Bim Mason is the co-founder and Artistic Director of Circomedia, the Centre for Contemporary Circus and Physical Performance. A performer of 35 years professional experience with pioneering circus theatre groups Kaboodle and his own Mummer&Dada. He is a renowned for his work in street theatre and as a mask-maker, his Bigheads have toured worldwide. He has also acted with the Bristol Old Vic Company and toured three solo physical comedy shows. In 1992 he founded Peepolykus. Of the many physical theatre shows he has directed, three have received Fringe First Awards at Edinburgh - with Talking Pictures (1989) and with Rejects Revenge (1995 &1997). In 2000 he founded and directed Dark Horse (Herald Angel Award). Other directing work includes for Welfare State International, Peepolykus, Macadam Theatre, Wall Street Theatre, Green Ginger Microtheatre, solo mimes and large scale international projects. Bim has taught in Brazil, Israel and at many British universities as well as at Fool Time from 1986 to 1993. His writing work includes the book Street Theatre (1992) and Provocation in Popular Culture (2015).
"I am interested in popular forms of performance both for the joy in their expression and also as a means to connect and communicate with a wide spectrum of people. I have attempted to validate some of these forms by articulating the sophistication of their aims and methods. But I also seek the renewal of established forms by encouraging experimentation and bringing in fresh ideas and combinations".
I began with masks and this led into an interest in ancient folk performance such as Mummers plays and early carnival, accompanied by a love of the physicality of circus and the aesthetics of fairground. I developed an interest in Absurdism and the surreal, both for comic effect and for the disturbance. Latterly I have explored these phenomena in terms of an edge between structure and chaos.
I was fortunate to join Kaboodle, the first professional circus-theatre company in the UK, inspired by their production of Monkey, 1978. After an intense two years in London, working as jester, clown, fire-eater and theatre-maker, I travelled through Europe, East Africa and Asia for a year and a day, performing in strange situations and seeing a wide variety of cultures. On return, I toured as an actor with Lee Beagley's Theatre Exchange before training at Jacques Lecoq's school in Paris (83-85). Subsequently (85-92) I formed the Mummer&Dada company, touring with them in the summers and creating solo shows in the winters, while teaching at Fool Time, directing groups like Rejects Revenge and writing my book on Street Theatre. When Fool Time collapsed I founded the Peepolykus company and set up Circomedia in 1994. Other teaching and directing work continued (with Welfare State and setting up The Joy Society and The Bigheads) until 2004 when I began a Phd at Bristol University. This led to the publication of Provocation in Popular Culture in 2015.
Having set up the undergraduate courses at Circomedia (2007, 2009), I set up the MA in Directing Circus in 2017. I stepped down from being an Artistic Director and Leader of the MA in 2021, but continuing teaching as well as developing the political big heads.