Pictures by Matthew Tennison
The charging thrill of theater enkindled something deep within Evan Young at just 15 years old. He first learned basic juggling in a Boy Scout meeting and landed a role in his high school musical, Barnum, showcasing his fun new hobby. It was on this very stage in Columbia, Missouri that he fell in love with showing off his unique talents to an audience.
Now, at 34 years old, Evan is an established, well-known street show performer. What started out as a hobby soon became something Evan wanted to pursue as a lifetime career. “I found a circus school in England through an internet search, and enrolled in their one-year program,” Evan explains
“I found a circus school in England through an internet search, and enrolled in their one-year program,” Evan explains during our interview. Circomedia, located in Bristol, is a school for contemporary circus and physical theater and draws in students from all over the world, including South America and Asia.
The school is divided into four specializations, with a strong emphasison collaboration among classmates:
1. Juggling, unicycling, and rola bola (balance board)
2. Physical theater, such as clowning, miming, etcetera
3. Acrobatics, tumbling, and acrobalance
4. Aerial arts, such as trapeze and aerial silks
One of Evan’s coaches really urged Evan to explore juggling and physical theater, labeling Evan as a verbal comedy performer rather than a circus juggler. “And he was right,” Evan says. “I’m a verbal comedy guy.” Circus jugglers are actually quite technical and have an extremely high skill level, and although Evan was not as technical as your typical circus juggler, he was very effective at mixing comedic performance with his talented juggling skills.
After circus school, Evan moved to Boulder, Colorado in 2002 to try his hand at street performing. He worked incredibly hard, six long days every week from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Some shows were incredible, and some were not, but this was the time period when Evan really learned the psychology of bringing a crowd together and entertaining them. It takes a very special set of skills to work a crowd while keeping their attention and making them enjoy a unique performance. “Street performers require a certain type of confidence to gather a crowd and hold their attention,” Evan says. “You have to create an expectation that something fun and interesting is going to happen, and the audience needs to have confidence that you’re qualified enough to bring that. They will need a reason to stay.”
He eventually moved to Lancaster to Jonathan Burns. Nowadays, you can find Evan at block parties, celebrations, and touring shows. Fine Living Lancaster magazine got to see him perform his “Kapow Show” firsthand after attending the Baltimore Comic Convention right in Harbor Place. We found out that he must schedule time slots with the Waterfront Partnership to perform along the water. During the busy season, he performs as often as three or four times a week!
Evan’s passion truly lies in street performance, because he loves the art of drawing and keeping a crowd. “The audience also has a role to play,” Evan tells us, “but ultimately it’s my job to connect with them. I love street performing because I work for the audience directly.” His street show experience makes him versatile enough to handle various types of challenges including gigs at indoor venues.
Evan makes his shows interactive and fun for everyone, whether you’re a lucky volunteer or you remain sitting in the crowd as a viewer, and has become quite the expert in fun and flashy circus stunts while keeping his audience laughing! What a great way to live, and a greater way to make a living.