COWARDLY SURRENDER? How could I ever have missed this. Last year, The Feld family feted the eyes of PETA with a sample of what their new animal-free circus will look like. PETA was so impressed, they “gifted” the circus with virtual control of their own website! Okay, Mr. Feld, now you hold the keys. Will you spend space apologizing for the thousands of circus animals over the years, allegedly mistreated?
The preview was a kickoff for the return of Ringling in 2023. Yes, it really really seems to be happening. New format designed to "break down the barriers between the performers and attendees."
In the words of show producer Juliette Feld Grossman, they're offering “a 360-degree environment that is going to surround” the audience with sound. So, it’s a sound show? No, no, much more than that. “Audience-generated comment’ will be in some way included “for the very first time.” And Maybe the last. Wasn’t this along the lines of something they tried in their last opus, Out of This World? I wonder if any cries of “where are the animals” will be auto-deleted before they can be heard.
Alexander Lacy, with Ringling's last, Out of This World, in 2017, a crowning moment in circus history.
Kenneth Feld put it this way in a press release, “We are innovating all aspects of the live show and modernizing the franchise,” purpose being to build “for today’s audiences, and will last another 150 years.”
I remind myself that the Felds have a genius for taking existing properties (Ringling, mice on ice, dump truck divas) and arguably bringing them into greater prosperity. In the key of ground-up originality, they have a genius for elaborate overkill.
What to expect? They may bring off a phenomenal new mode of acrobatic entertainment — or one of the biggest still bombs in showbiz history. I fear they have lost themselves in their own theoretical brainstorming sessions. I detect desperation blinding them to a far better course that would have salvaged diamond elements of the old show, still readily accepted by the public at large.
So PETA was, it would appear, silenced into a grateful shock. Proclaimed they in a written statement, “Ringling is returning with a bang, transforming the saddest show on Earth into a dazzling display of human ingenuity after 146 years of animal abuse. PETA is cheering the animal-free revamp and will gladly hand over their Circuses. Com to celebrate the spotlights turn toward talented human performers who chose to perform.”
Reality check: Circuses.Com does not bring up a website, but it opens
Peta.org, and therein, PETA acknowledge its offering Ringling use of
circuses.com. I can't find it.
At Royal Hanneford earlier in the year. Despite the hateful rhetoric of the do-gooders, there is abundant evidence that Americans still embrace traditional tanbark thrills.
Horse riding? It's an accepted sport and recreation. Dogs? The Felds should take a good long look at episodes of America's Got Talent.
Kenneth Feld could become the poster child for suicidal big top self-evisceration. Remember the vastly diversified Greatest Show on Earth itself? This new all human focus risks an overly serious tone – a tone previously lightened by clowns and animal critters running about the ring. For the nation’s most revered circus to be bending to such sterile purity is disheartening. Dogs and horses are sill in motion on some shows, and will not be easy for any group to hound out of the rings. The Big cats, too. The crowds still love and look for our furry friends sharing the spotlights. Feld's gutless dismissal of the entire menagerie suggests Cirque du Soleil on steroids, lost in arena land. Not the most original thinking.
Looking up in wonder. The original seven-high pyramid. Looking down at the current grind, from the Big Apple Circus website.
NIK’S THIRD BIG APPLE DATE: Down here closer to an authentic circus ring, Big Apple is daring to present a dog act, yes, the dogs rescued from a shelter. And Nik Wallenda seems bent on turning his family’s wire walks into an annual must see at Lincoln Center, although a photo he is pushing leaves me cold. I scan cyberland for evidence of BAC releases hitting major news outlets, and find nothing. High wire antics don’t play so well under little tents. Website tickets going for $29.95 to $160.95.
I have an advance proof copy of Karl Shaw's The Killing of Lord George, and am keenly perusing a vivid and gritty journey through unvarnished Brit big top history. Most surprising thing for me; that the Brits may have been out for more blood in the big cage than we over here, and that Brit circus owners may have endured even bloodier encounters with thieves and con men along the road and around the tents.
END RINGERS: Die, clown, die: Yet another clown-driven blood bath is bringing more mayhem to movie houses. Audiences, I read, "are vomiting and fainting amid screenings of the new clown slasher film Terrifier 2." Getting harder to recall when white face joeys with red noses warmed the hearts of Americans.
Lou, Felix, Otto! Steve & Ryan! What have they done to you? Where are you? Can you hear me? Please,come home! Can I send out a rescue team? No, No, please, I'm on your side! Don't! Don't Oh God! ... Somebody call me a doctor!!!!! One .... One ... one hund ...hund ... hun ... hu ....h ...