The Cirque-Théâtre was build in 1892 at a time when the textile industry was in full swing in the French town Elbeuf, nicknamed the “City of 100 chimneys” because of its many factories. Private entrepreneurs financed the Cirque-Théâtre with the intention for it to be a place of entertainment for the population of Elbeuf and the surrounding area.
It was named the Omnia Circus Theater from 1892 to 1942. Circus and music hall shows, operettas, plays, boxing and wrestling matches, film screenings and also political meetings took place inside the Circus-Theater. In 1912 the OMNIA company (from the Cinéma Montmartre et Extension) rented the place and then became the owner in 1926. The Cirque-Théâtre could then accommodate up to 2,200 spectators.
Following a fire Elbeuf’s Eden cinema moves and takes up its quarters at the Cirque-Théâtre from 1942 to 1957. The building is transformed into a “dark room”: the stage and part of the stands are walled up, the dome is masked by the addition of a false suspended ceiling. Having become a black box, the circus now named Eden Cinema can accommodate 1,200 people.
The City of Elbeuf acquired the Cirque-Théâtre in 1957. The old stables, located behind the building and the stage area were transformed: they saw the development of the activities of the Labor Exchange (future Maison des unions) and a major gym club. In the 1980s, rock and jazz concerts, theatrical and musical rehearsals took place occasionally. In those days the City of Elbeuf also announced its ambition to renovate the Cirque-Théâtre.
The unsatisfactory security conditions of the place led to its closure in 1995.
The Anomalie Company, which then shot the show “Le cri du chaméléon” by Josef Nadj, signed a four-year agreement with the City of Elbeuf and was given the Cirque-Théâtre as its place of residence in 1996. In 1998, the circus was listed in the inventory of historic monuments. Then in 2000, on the eve of “The Year of the Circus Arts”, the public partners launched the rehabilitation project on the basis of an artistic project dedicated to contemporary circus arts. The Cirque-Théâtre d’Elbeuf association was created to prefigure the reopening of the renovated place. As a “Regional Center for Circus Arts”, it took over the building as a place of residence for companies and a place of training for its circus school until the end of 2002. Pending the rehabilitation of the place, the shows were hosted under marquee and in partner venues.
The place was under mayor renovation and reconstruction for three and a half years from 2004 to 2007. The performance hall was renovated and the rear areas rebuilt in the spirit of the new project, including an artists’ house and a rehearsal room, in particular.
At the reopening in 2007 the Cirque-Théâtre d´Elbeuf could accommodate up to 900 people. It became the National Center for Circus Arts in 2011. Since then it is developing an international artistic activity centered on creation, production, programming of shows and artistic education.
2 Rue Augustin Henry
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