Hundred years ago, Flea circuses roamed the land, maybe skipped old mattresses -- better luck in sawdust and spangles, and one of the star miniatures, Flossy, who flossed about for Barron's Flea Circus, at Olympia, fled the show for where? A mystery fit for Agatha C. Posters flung into action promised "liberal award" for the safe return of the errant one, said to be of the "piebald" tribe. Did she run away or, as some opined, take refuge in a "thick head of hair." Maybe she found a man-flea and the two eloped ... That fleafull poster (yes a word I fleefully gleefully hatched for this rousing opener -- are you still with me?), lost in the archives of North Ireland's Public Record Office, recently discovered. Now on display in Proni's headquarters in Belfast's Titanic Quarter -- just in case you were planning a little weekend in Ireland and needed a cultural diversion away from the pubs..
Baraboo rising! New museum monarch Scott O'Donnell talking up the return of the living big top, fanfaring about canvas being "the pre-eminent way to experience the circus..." Ah, Sir Harry of Kingston will take heart in hearing such words. He, like many, prefers to watch a circus under a tent. Into the Irvin Feld Exhibition Hall will go something interactive called "Caught in the Act: Legends, Myths and Mysteries of the Circus." Legends -- also the word heading up the new Feld-Ringling opus about to hit the sawdust -- or asphalt -- down there in the re-birthed land of Ringling. To be called simply Legends. And, already, it seems to be bringing out a softer warmer persona from the Feld of Felds. Sir Kenneth chirping to the local press over his undying love of elephants. Does it so well, hard to reconcile with evidence to the contrary of Ringling pachyderms getting mistreated, cursed at and slapped by bull hooks..
Can you feel his joyful connection? Wonder if it's real ...
"The first time the elephants come out, there is an audible gasp and cheer," exudes KF. "It's a sight. It's a feeling and it ultimately gives you an emotional connection. There's nothing like it."
About Feld's critics, among them Bob Barker, who allege he's got the elephant compound in high gear and generating lots of publicity merely as a front for insuring "a reliable supply of animals for his circus." Grants Mr. Feld to a reporter daring to ask, the breeding of pachyderms was "part of the motivation,' adding "but the center has turned out to be so much more," including research his company is undertaking "out in the world." In fact, says he, all of this scientific stuff could prove to be a more enduring legacy than Feld Entertainment itself. Well, for sure, it might trump the Monster Truck follies division.
Zippos zips zippily on across the Pond. From London town, Douglas McPherson checks in, informing me that "Martin Burton says they're playing up to 8 shows a day in Hyde Park, and getting 9,000 people under canvas each Saturday." That's hot. But eight shows? Must be an extreme John Robinson (truncated show) or one of those new-age flea circuses. Flossy, come back -- you could rock the tent!
....Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? Maybe that's what Flossy thought when she snuck out from under Mr. Barron's thumb. Heck, maybe she's put herself up for a performing contract to the highest bidder on eBay.