Ominous: Big Apple Circus in the yellow, or is it my computer?
THIS IS NOT A HAPPY DAY. I'm cooped up on a tragic California afternoon, when so much is on fire, up north and down south, splashes of sunshine against my large window gracing me from the unhealthy air out there. I’ll skip the afternoon walk, and let this one roll, and turn the TV back on. I marvel over the heroism of the fire fighters, by the thousands displaced, taking it on the chin, so many and maybe all being extra good to each other, knowing what means the most in life, the old and the young bringing tears to my eyes. A whole town, gone. Others in the balance, forever, I fear.
WHAT MOVED ME to this keyboard was a You Tube I chanced upon featuring clips from the Big Apple Circus’s Grand Tour of 2015. What a feast of tent-filling action. This is what I live for. Inventive all over. Lots of movement. No wonder the New York Times raved. I offer it to you below.
NOW, SIGH, to the present tense. I shall strive for positivity. When I think of circus in bits and pieces today, I think back on the little John Strong Circus tent. It would fit in quite dandy now, as the tops grow smaller, the ballyhoos more eager than egotistic. Our local community ring, the free-to-see Circus Bella, advancing up and over to Treasure Island for a month-long holiday run, and under their first little big top. And they’re not giving this one away (more, maybe stronger acts touted), tickets going from $39 to $150. What a daring leap from free. Out of the diaper stage, at last. I'm feeling a rare Bella bounce, relearning to be John Strong grateful.
NO LONGER RINGLING or Beatty-Cole. Now UniverSoul, the new Big Show? Or would that be Big apple? They, the latter, are hiding their wares behind a screen full of lovely yellow, or that’s what I keep pulling up when trying to reach inside their website. It’s happened before. What is going on, or coming off, over there? Too much unwanted drama, perhaps. I know, for one thing, that a lawsuit has been launched against Big Apple Circus by two of those who helped sell the Big Apple Circus Board on selling to the Sarasota partners. The two, in the beginning promised prominent operational roles, were gradually sidelined and then fired. Not a pretty picture.
OF REVIEWS FOR Big Apple’s latest, I could only find two legit notices, one from New York Stage Review, the other out of the Philly’s Inquirer. Both were pleased, though not steeped in awesome adjectives. “Colorful and fun,” the kindly kudos. One critic laughed a lot at the clowns, or his kids did; the other did not laugh at all. Grandma still missed, and how sad I feel over what happened, wondering, if you will allow, if it had to happen?
ALL GOOD NEWS feels more terrific in these tentative times, like feeling good about Kelly Miller advertising in Circus Report for marketing people to front the 2019 tour.
BIG JOHN STRONG WOULD fit in, peachy well, under the small tent he pitched (or thumb tacked up) at country fairs, offering for free the fundamental magic in a charming showcase, he being the talky star. “Got a big hand, Cindy!“ I just loved hearing him say that, when a young juggler kept three sticks in motion, a clown, the kiddies in tickles When once Big John spotted me on the planks (how I wished he hadn't), the way he announced me, I felt like a potentate from foreign shores. I was somebody then.
CIRQUE DU SOLEIL, still posturing and preening in heavy-handed narrative, putting up its Volta tent over in San Francisco, for a long three-month haul. I might pass. Sounds like some very good acts, but even the Canadian critics were down on this show when it opened, fed up with another dull story line mucking up and retarding the program. The Globe and Mail declared the "thrilling Volta is crippled by its story." You won’t see any of the acting stuff on TV ads. You'll see CIRCUS. So I have little will to drag my self over to SF, and there be dragged through another schizoid Cirque combo.
SO WHAT WILL I have seen this year? I sat on rough dry grass over hard clumpy dirt in a gritty Oakland Park to watch Circus Bella put on a cute little show -- The Cutest Little Show on Earth? -- I'm trying. At least they are high on Joy. In these darkened days of diminishing glories, Joy is a comforting element. The John Strong factor. Got a great hand, Bella!
I'LL ADMIT TO BEING envious over the circus fan (CFA-er) who has built into his/her DNA, the capacity to enjoy almost anything that comes their way titled circus. I’m thinking how Plato’s theory of forms may explain for this phenomenon.. But more on that trenchant topic some other time.
IT IS STILL sunny bright outside, lending local peace, in a land perpetually on fire. Somebody needs to cut down half the trees and all the dry brush, mandate stone or steel houses, restrict population, order power lines under ground. Mother nature may once have set off the sparks; now humans are doing what appears a far worse job.
Let me send you off on a joyful three-minute sampler of Big Apple Circus's Grand Tour, from 2015:
Got a great big hand, Big Apple!