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The show will go on
By Megan Affonso
The Great British Circus has had an eventful week, with protesters from International Animal Rescue demonstrating outside the circus site.
I went along to watch the performance itself, and to speak to the circus director Martin Lacey.
Driving down a little country lane on Saturday 15th September, I was expecting to be mowed down by a barrage of protesters telling me not to watch the Great British Circus. I was therefore very surprised to arrive to only one or two families enjoying a picnic outside the Big Top.
Roll up, roll up!
Members from International Animal Rescue had seemed to finish their protest, and I was curious to watch this circus, as this was the first one that I had been to which had animals on display.
The International Animal Rescue argue that circus animals are kept locked up, being moved from town to town in cages purely for the entertainment of the public. On arriving, I spoke to Martin Lacey, the circus director, who explained to me that he is a Government Registered Wild Animal Trainer, and has built a solid relationship with the animals that he has bred and trained.
I met one of the show’s camels, who was much larger than I expected, but dressed in a beautiful red shroud, which was unfortunately not shown during the performance itself. After trying to walk off several times with me in pursuit, the camel eventually stood still for long enough for me to have a picture taken with it.
I went into the Big Top, and several camels and ponies were being ridden by children, who made up the majority of the audience, along with their parents.
Not so funny business...
The show finally began, and I was treated to a very mixed range of performances. The circus clown and dancers were unfortunately not quite as good as I had expected or hoped, but this was made up for by the other acts, amongst which were trapeze artists, balancing performers, a juggler, and illusionists.
Two ponies, Little and Large, gave a short performance, where the aptly named Little ran through the legs of Large, and both ran around the performance space, performing twirls and standing on a small podium. The camels and llamas did the same, walking around the performance space and twirling in turn.
The trapeze artists gave a scary but brave performance, high above the heads of the crowd, and the balancing performers Duo Stefaneli displayed sheer body strength, lifting each other in awkward positions and supporting each other, sometimes by just one hand and at one point, by just the neck!
The second half started with the circus crew setting up a huge enclosure around the performance space, and the director Martin Lacey willingly getting into a secure cage with five tigers and no form of protection. Instead of getting torn to pieces as I feared he might, he showed a great relationship with the tigers, who followed his instructions well, jumping over each other through hoops and standing on podiums.
I was not expecting much from the juggler, but was pleasantly surprised when he performed amazingly, juggling up to five different objects at one time, and throwing several hats up into the air and managing to catch them on his head. The illusionists Duo Lumei performed a sequence of dress changes, managing to make several complete costume changes in a matter of seconds before our very eyes.
Overall, the circus was very enjoyable, although there was more human performance than animal performance, which I was not expecting to be the case. I was stunned by some of the acts and animals, and spirits of the circus performers did not seem to be dampened by the week’s previous events.
last updated: 18/09/07