Monday, January 31, 2022

Packed Houses Greet UK's Down-to-Basics CIRCUS SPECTACULAR ... Shocking Photos of Unmasked Patrons!

Ain't that Beautiful, ALL those mask-less faces! -- or did you take them off just for me, people?  I LOVE IT! Here they are opening night at Telford.  And, down, there they we are opening night in Bradford a bit back.

I feel your joy.

Gosh, have I just re-entered planet earth?. ALL THOSE SMILING FACES!  Humanity's return.  I am near tears. Look at them, real looking people, relaxed, eager, happy. 

Tis a wee lad who runs this charmer, and his name suits the cause: James Shone.  His photo won't download or I'd flash him to you.  This kid  has the makings of a bold stroke dynamo, daring to pitch this:

Join us for the Greatest Show on Earth!

Over here our obsessive "science-based" control freaks seem close to requiring that we all have mask-implants.  I think there are lost or maybe found souls I see on the streets of anonymity who may never show heir mugs again, who revel in a shared oppression,who may prefer keeping their visages to themselves.  They scurry about as if smugly connected to a new world disorder. 

Saturday, January 22, 2022

The Rebirthing of Kenneth Feld? Big Show Boss Tosses Aside Adding Machine for Director's Beret (so he says)

Erase from your mind the classic Kenneth Feld image -- obsessive nerd with adding machine at desk awaiting daily phone-ins from fretting event directors reporting on the day's ticket sales.

Enter the new, artistically repentant Kenneth Feld, the Big Show's Big Picture Man. Hey, I read all about it in The New York Times. To breathlessly quote:

"My strengths are really in the creative side, coming up with big ideas, knowing how to get them done. But the day-to-day and the administration are something that I wasn’t good at, because I didn’t have the interest. I started restructuring the company around ’94, and I found out that you never stop. And I now have an outside president and chief operating officer who take care of all of the day-to-day, and we have constant communications and meetings. But I don’t get involved in the detail the way I used to."

This he explained to the Times Adam Bryant for a Corner Office Q&A profile in last last Sunday's edition. Interesting story worth a read. We might have a little more fun with it here somehwere up the road.

I am fairly shocked, after all the years reading about the Feld of Felds referring to his happiness at the desk pouring over stats and invoices, ordering up fireworks between hiring and firing. Just being a common ordinary anonymous producer in the background, humble worker bee operating a huge honey hive, if you will.

Listen on!

"As a result of that, I’ve been able to become a lot more objective in looking at the business — what’s happening today, but more importantly, what do I think is going to happen next year and in the next five years. "

He paid tribute to his president and chief operating officer, Michael Shannon, hired only a few years ago following a 10-month search, whose name appears directly under Feld's on the corporate masthead.

I know people buried out there in cyberspace, pro people in the "know"who would have me believe that this Mr. F. is a career iceberg doomed never to change course. That he lacks the infectious enthusiasm and, well heck, the warm fuzzy humanity of his late father Irvin.

I don't know. I've always seen KF as a sinister version of detail-obsessed James A. Bailey. But in his own reigning right, he is one shrewd operator who absorbs exterior trends into his own shows, something like Billy Gates imitating Steve Jobs. 'ya know, that mouse thing. He may have found a new role model in Cirque du Soleil's Guy Laliberte, who is well known for having a very strong CEO at the desk while, he, Guy, serves as "The Guide" in birthing new baby Cirques.

The biggest status quo buster to the Feld empire was that one-ring thing, a crushing occurrence under U.S. big tops which forced the Felds -- one father, three daughters in all, so far -- to regroup, rethink and reproduce, out of which emerged one brilliant solution in last year's Boom-A-Ring fling in Coney Island. I'm waiting for another Boom-A-Ding-A-Dum-Drum thing as talented and tight and taut and straight ahead and ticklingly fresh ...

A fresh metrosexual makeover for the numbers cruncher-turned-impresario? Perchance a cape? Perchance a photo sit for Maxwell Coplan?

Enter Ringling's new "Guide" -- Kenneth Feldiberte.

[photo above by Tony Cenicola/The New York Times]

 From 10.30.10

Sunday, January 16, 2022

clowns at gas pumps Just what we need when we needed so much less ....Good grief, does it ever end, this riisula sla from king

Forget bog rolls and petrol, Northern Ireland is suffering from a shortage of... clowns!

The news comes from David Duffy, co-owner of Duffy's Circus, as Northern Irish circuses return to the road after the lifting of lockdown restrictions, several months of after big tops elsewhere.
"Because the circuses in England and Europe have been operational for the past six months, that huge pool of EU artists are already back at work  and we haven't been able to get visas for non-EU artists," said Duffy, who has resorted to advertising for trainee clowns without experience.
"We're trying to reach out to any folks who feel that they could give it a go," he said.
So what does it take to be a Joey?
You have to be really adaptable and able to think on your feet, said the circus boss.
"When you go into a circus ring and you've got 700 or 800 people looking at you, then no matter what sort of mood you're in you have to light up that circus ring.
"A clown can be the loneliest place, because you're in there on your own and you have to be able to read your audience. In a few short minutes you have to get a rapport going and interact with them and feed off them."
In England, meanwhile, the Circus of Horrors has adapted to the fuel crisis by having Anastasia Sawicka pull her van to a filling station with her hair - a publicity stunt that got the show's current tour into the national press.

The Horrors also called on their KillerKlown to scare panic buyers away from the pumps!


Saturday, January 15, 2022

Circus Anonymous... Is This Who We Now Are? Where We Have Gone? ... Shadows Hidding Behind Shadows ... The Last Sparks of Lost Glories Venting in the Dark ......

Brother, can you spare a name?

The voices attached to names are mostly gone, some writers, some bloggers:  Ernest Albrecht, The Biggerstaffs, and all the pros who moved  and sold the shows, Big Cage stars like Wade Burke, Concession men like Dick Dyes, old times veterans and then up and coming clowns Steve Copeland and Ryan Combs.

The voices afraid to be known, lurking among the ruins with opinions, some spot on, others settling scores, maybe.

Once upon a better season, a number of proven troupers posted comments, maybe only once, but once. Names like John Ringling North II, John Herrriot, Paul Binder, Steve and Ryan even.  Some of the knowing still check in known then, be they James Royal, or Douglas McPherson across the Big Pond, or Don Covington, the last soul on the lot keeping us connected and informed with the links he sends our way.  

Back in 2016 -- a golden age compared to now -- there were maybe a dozen circus blogs up and running. Now, what, one?  two?  Lonely out here on the darkening blank lot, the last tent having been struck, the last wagon maybe now at the runs waiting to be pulled up to the flats for the last haul home.

Anon (Anonymous) checks in now and then.  All Anons might be the same for all I know.  I print the ones I can who park their profanity or vile at the marquee, and take what I can. 

It was always a hush-hush world among the fans, more than the pros.  And it still is.  At least, a few are able to rouse themselves to issue a thought, an irk, a jab, an insight even -- careful to stay safely out of sight. 

And barely on goes the no-show ....

Sunday, January 09, 2022


...  on your comment at the end of the post that follows this one --  "The Impresario Enters"

Thanks for your contribution.

I was about as awed by Cirque du Soleil in the beginning as you are now.  It’s future will be most interesting to follow.  Will the public, already suggested, tire of the artsy allusions to dance and theatre?  Perhaps they will not, as long as the show gives them a sufficient number of A grade World class acts.

In the big picture of circus performance  history, I see our having lived through five epochs:

1. 1770: The one ring circus as invented by Philip Astley in England.
2. 1881: The three ring circus of Barnum & Bailey in America.
3. 1919: The Russian one-ring circus elevated into a quasi-ballet, without ballet, which would significantly influence what came about from Cirque du Soliel, whose founding artistic director acknowledged that much.
    4. 1938: John Ringling North’s brilliant transformation of the three ring circus with unified costume design and interlocking production numbers.
    5. 1984: Cirque du Soleil’s transformation of the one ring circus into a new kind of  border line circus. There can be no doubt its impact on public perceptions

Paul Binder, in my view, upgraded the art and showmanship of the one ring format – as had Louis Stern and Irving J. Polack before him in the mid-thirties with their Polack Bros. Circus. A pity Paul is gone.

Irvin Feld, you might argue (not I, exactly) glorified the format of John Ringling North, to which he was slavishly devoted.  I believe his son Kenneth has been  more inventive.  Sometimes, perhaps too much for his own good.

Will true circus (animals, acrobats, clowns) fade out completely?.  I doubt it.  Will they ever make a comeback? For that to happen, I believe we would need a big spectacular statement from the likes of a Kenneth Feld with vast resources, combined with a public so fed up  with woke culture, that going to a traditional big top will be one way of rediscovering and reclaiming lost traditions of  enduring value.  This could very well happen, but it might not be during our time. 

Wait to see what the Feld of Felds does, if he follows through on his promise to revive Ringling.