7 p.m. – the time the show was scheduled to begin, but our seats were vacant and I was waiting with the tickets outside for my dear late friends who were my partners in attending the circus that night.
Prior to arriving at the venue I tried to remember as a kid that one time I saw the circus. But apart from broken stadium style wooden benches and a couple of jokers on stilts, I couldn’t recollect much, or at the least I couldn’t confirm if the other things that I remembered was what I saw that day in the circus or on D.D. Metro in the years to come.
Finally not too late they arrived, and as we entered, the show had already began with the Swinging Trapeze, which didn’t have much to display but did give hope for better acts to come… Next to come were the Jugglers who dropped more than they could juggle and after which the Circus Parade followed with absolute poor marching and music. There was just no presentation skills in almost anything they did. And then I realized that it was only the broken wooden benches that were real in my imagination. Everything else that I was now looking at just didn’t conjure with my memories.
A Circus is also sought by some as to be a subservient place, where they believe that animals are ill treated and the circus artists are living below a standard thats unacceptable to them. Where there is very less pay and sometimes no food.
But like most of us have the opportunity to choose to practice or perform a job that we like, not all of us have that freedom. And for most of them its more than just a place that offers shelter.
For sometime as I watched the performances I got lost in the structure of the circular dome tent which had a revolving stage in the center and colorful spotlights in plenty. The arrangement was not the best as I could judge from the little experience that I have in theatre lighting. At most places the poles holding up the lights blocked major sections of the audience view. Our 300 R.s. tickets, which were ‘Executive Class’ didn’t make us feel a bit like it.
Back to focusing on the Hooping now by a Swedish and Russian performer which did seem interesting, Along with a Kenyan troupe who seemed to be having the best time on stage showing some great fitness and danceing by skipping the rope on their butts, but didn’t really help in bringing much excitement to anyone around.
Mostly every act and performer lacked what a performer really needs – Showmanship. The lack of fitness in the Indian performers along with horrendous costumes, which could be at times x-rated just didn’t help. They seemed to have lack of practice and were out of shape, and at times that has been uneventful for circus artists.
But then it struck me as I glanced through the audience and saw that on a weekend there were barely about a hundred people watching the circus. The money that would come of the ticket sales would definitely not be a wholesome to distribute to over a hundred performers. What could really be their pay? How often would they get a chance to buy newer equipment and costumes? What happens when they are traveling and not performing? and many more questions bombarded inside my head for which I couldn’t find answers.
The Circus has been around for centuries since the time of horse carriage acts in Ancient Rome, but is slowly and certainly a dying art. And we all are partly to be blamed for it, We might have found better things to entertain ourselves with today but what we did wrong, was that we failed to convince ourselves as we grew older that the Circus never meant harm to anyone. As kids we all flocked to the tents and ate our candy floss in delight. But then we condemned it when we had no more pleasure to derive out of it. It does sound like perfect human nature.
I went to the circus, because I wanted to once again experience a memory that had now become vague, and so I did, but also experienced much more.
The Indian Circus might just not last for another century, and thankfully I won’t be around to see its end.
Its a tough choice that these artists and people make, where they don’t live but survive only for entertaining us.