Free the Stage: The JKU Launches the New "Circus of Knowledge" Program

Guest appearances by Klaus Maria Brandauer, Anne Bennent, Johannes Krisch, Larissa Fuchs, and TEXTA will kick off the debut season at the "Circus of Knowledge".

TEXTA; Credit: Zoe Goldstein
TEXTA; Credit: Zoe Goldstein

Airan Berg, the Circus of Knowledge director, has put together an exciting and inspiring program designed to appeal to young and old alike by introducing visitors to the circus ring featuring performances based on science and art. Guests can expect to enjoy three premieres and countless collaboration efforts and initiatives with local artists.

Circus director Airan Berg remarked: "Theater, music, dance, and literary readings - there will certainly be something for everyone! I look forward to seeing many visitors and working with the various artists and researchers who will breathe life into the 'Circus of Knowledge'."

Three fundraising events will take place in April, featuring performances focusing on current events that take a look at war and peace. There is no admission, however, donations are welcome and the proceeds will go to support displaced Ukrainian students in the JKU’s MORE program.

Opening its doors for the first time on April 20 at 7:30 PM, the circus will free the stage for actress Anne Bennent (Salzburg Festival, Schiller Theater Berlin, Burgtheater) who will read from diaries written by Ukrainians in the war zone. The legendary Linz hip-hop band TEXTA will follow, performing their unique set.

The program continues on April 23 at 7:30 PM featuring actor Johannes Krisch (Tatort, Landkrimi, Narziss, and Goldmund) and Larissa Fuchs (Theater an der Josefstadt, Berliner Ensemble) reading from "Die Kaminsky Taktik" by Christopher New. Published in 2005, the novel focuses on the author’s wife’s family. New’s wife, Christa, was originally from Hallstatt, Austria, and during WWII, her mother was the only Jewish woman living in Hallstatt. To escape and survive, Christa’s mother staged her own suicide. The reading will be accompanied by cellist Nikolai New (Haydn Quartet), the grandson of the story's protagonist.

To culminate the April events at the "Circus of Knowledge", on April 30 at 7:30 PM, actor Klaus Maria Brandauer will read texts about war and peace, landscapes, and people under the motto "Echo aus dunklen Räumen".

Due to limited space, those interested are asked to register in advance to attend. See:

Beginning in May, guests can attend performances and, unless otherwise stated, simply pay a voluntary contribution. Airan Berg explains: "The 'Circus of Knowledge' is a unique space in Europe and we want it to be open and accessible to everyone. It is an inclusionary idea mirrored in the ticket prices as starting in May, there is no set ticket price, but rather guests can pay as they can."

Between May and June, visitors can enjoy the following performances:

Paper Theater: The Lives of Great Researchers

This new, unusual series will debut during the Long Night of Research on May 20, giving the audience an opportunity to experience parts of the lives of important scientists in a unique way through the art of Kamishibai, a 1,000-year-old form of Japanese paper theater. The first performance will focus on British mathematician Ada Lovelace (1815 - 1852). The audience can learn more about Lovelace’s life and work at the Circus on May 20 at 5:00 PM and again at 6:30 PM (ages 6+), admission is free!

JKU Rector Meinhard Lukas enthusiastically remarked: "Never before have the times and tales of great scientists been told like this. It is a fascinating, inspiring, and surprising format for visitors of all ages!"

The series will focus on approximately 20 researchers and scientists and the program will be continuously expanded.

Shadow Theater: The Life and Times of Johannes Kepler

The JKU’s patron saint also plays a special role between May 19 – 25 as shadow theater performers present "MondTraum & PlanetenKlang". Visitors will be whisked away to polymath Johannes Kepler’s world to experience a fantastic journey through time that tells the tale of his life and work (ages 8+).

Dance & Robotics

Between June 9 - 11, the Circus stage will be free for "Split Subject" by Silke Grabinger & Amir Bastan. SILK cie, Creative Robotics, and qapture invite you to a special kind of dance performance featuring robot dog, Spot, conquering the circus stage (ages 12+).

A Stage to Support Diversity

During June, a collaboration effort with the Linz-based inclusive cultural festival SichtWechsel will feature blind accordion player Otto Lechner making a guest appearance at the "Circus of Knowledge" on June 25 (7:30 PM) and June 26 (11:00 AM). As part of the debut "Rubisco-Variationen – die Sonate der Photosynthese", he, Anne Bennent, and Anne Tismer will attempt to give a human face to the process of photosynthesis. Faculty members at the JKU’s Department of Physics contributed to the piece by providing their scientific expertise (ages 12+).

Dance, Participation & Biology

In cooperation with the JKU’s Department of STEM Didactics and Helix Projects Linz, the 2022 science book of the year by Michael Stavaric and Michéle Ganser, "Faszination Krake", will be brought to the stage as part of a dance and video performance on June 28 & 29, beginning at 5:30 PM. The production not only includes JKU scientists and researchers, but also about 80 children (ages 6+).

JKU Academics & Scientists Conquer the Circus

JKU Rector Meinhard Lukas explains: "I am very pleased that especially at the start of the program at the Circus of Knowledge, many JKU faculty members are taking part, thereby taking advantage of a unique opportunity to make their research more tangible and comprehensible in a low-threshold, innovative way."

Up until July and under the motto "Free the Stage for Computer Sciences", the JKU COOL Lab (Linz School of Education) will organize, among other things, close to 50 workshops and performances, giving young people an opportunity to learn more about the magical side of computer sciences and experience how exciting the world of algorithms can be (free admission!).

See: to learn more about the performances and to sign up in advance to attend.

With all of this in mind, free the stage as a unique theater venue opens its doors and invites young and old alike to experience the magic of science and the magic of knowledge!

About the "Circus of Knowledge"

opening ceremony in which Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen also attended. The Circus of Knowledge, a place to support magic and curiosity, was built across from Schloss Auhof at the JKU as an open, inclusive and participative space to also break down barriers and make academia, science, and art accessible to young and old alike in a low threshold way. Visitors will be encouraged to experience performances by using all of the senses. Designed by architects Luger and Maul, the "Circus of Knowledge" was created to look like a classic dairy barn. The multifunctional wooden building can seat up to 300 people and the ring can simultaneously face both inward and outward. The stage doors slide open to look out at the courtyard. Funding for the "Circus of Knowledge" was made possible by former JKU Rector Richard Hagelauer. To mark his retirement, he provided the funds to build the “Circus of Knowledge” from his department’s externally acquired funds.