The Circus Animals' Desertion


The Circus Animals’ Desertion is a poetic response to the imagining of nations, inspired by the writings of Ireland’s national poet William Butler Yeats. It sets Yeats' romantic notions of nationhood against the brutal realities of extreme nationalism, radicalisation, xenophobia and oppression engulfing the world today. 

The Circus Animals’ Desertion takes the form of a collective dream, abstract, contradictory but ultimately a true expression of human nature. Through mask and dance a panoply of characters, creatures and objects populate the stage to create a world which is at once strange and yet devastatingly familiar. 

Sampling texts and imagery from Yeats’ plays and poetry as well as archive recordings and interviews, the piece is performed by an international cast of dancers and live musicians.  

Running time : 1h10


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  • 2016-10-04 00:00:00 2016-10-08 00:00:00 - Dublin Theatre Festival, Samuel Beckett Theatre, Dublin - Ireland


Written and Directed by Feidlim Cannon and Gary Keegan

Performers : Deirdre Griffin, Saara Hurme, Rebecca Journo, Eddie Kay, Martin McCann 
Musicians : Jane Deasy, Lioba Petrie, Maud Ni Riordan

Voiceover : Shahab Coohe
Music : Sean Millar
Choreography : Jessica Kennedy

Set and Mask Design : Ger Clancy
Costume Design : Sarah Foley
Lighting Design : Stephen Dodd

Projection Design : Kilian Waters

Sound Design : Jack Cawley

A co-production with Brokentalkers, Mermaid Arts Centre and Project Arts Centre, Ireland. Funded through an Arts Council Theatre Project Award. 

Brokentalkers are Project Artists, an initiative of Project Arts Centre (
This project was developed with the support of the Abbey Theatre, Dublin (