This circus was French... and it was small - in fact, it was the smallest Big Top any of us had ever seen. I had jokingly said to C that there would be 200 small kids plus parents and us ould wans from Ireland - I was wrong. 200 small kids would have burst the tent at the seams, never mind their parental escorts. We did a rough count and reckoned there were about 80 people present all told.
|A section of the crowd|
First we had Mademoiselle Laura, who did stuff with hula hoops. Laura had been selling tickets five minutes earlier, but she had taken off her red gilet and seemed a bit under-dressed for the time of year. To keep warm, she's wearing a lot of hula hoops in this photo.
Then there were the horses. First a little skewbald guy who didn't want to be there. He went around with a mulish expression, and half-heartedly bucked every so often, much like many riding school ponies I've seen. I get the feeling he's been in this job for too long. Anyway, he did his tricks and trotted out with a relieved expression on his face.
|Four feet (he wasn't keen on this at all)|
|Take a bow... he was good at this!|
|Two feet on podium. Note Mademoiselle Laura is working |
away in the background, getting the popcorn machine going
|Wow, she is bendy|
|Ringmaster/animal trainer/dad is spinning |
the rope here while Laura does stuff.
Actually, this was pretty impressive!
Here's the dromedaire doing his trick
|Two feet on.. wait, I'm seeing a pattern emerge here|
dressage camel doing his flying changes) but I suspect it was over the top for most of the people present, especially seeing as the majority were less then five years old.
Anway Rambo finished with his trick, and strolled majestically out.
|I started to get "arty" with the photos.|
The "two feet" trick was beginning to pall
|Oh look! Two feet on a podium!|
The donkey's final trick was that he's an absolute sweetheart. He went around the ring and stopped in front of all the small kids and stood patiently while they petted him.
|I want a Donkey!|
The final exotic animal came in - a llama from Peru. He seems to be young and doesn't have any trick(s) yet, so the wooden podium stayed where it was, ringmaster/animal trainer/dad continued his discussion about animal gaits and then small clown led the llama out.
The final act was... TaDa...... Mademoiselle Laura again, in another aeriel performance, this time in a ring dangling from the Small Top's top.
|Anne's comment : I bet she'd be good at Pilates!|
Within an hour, the small top was down, with an extra man appearing from nowhere to pitch in with the family and help disassemble and pack up.
Did we enjoy ourselves? Well, yes. It was a small operation, to be sure, but it gave us a brief glimpse of the life of a small-time circus family as they travel through France, working hard at the only life they know. At €5/head, it was well worth the money, but there is no way these guys will ever get rich doing this - at best they made about €500, having spent two days in Céreste.
Will €250/day keep the show on the road? There's a lot of hay to purchase : the animals were all well fed, and apart from the grumpy skewbald, all seemed reasonably content. There's three large trucks to keep fuelled. There's four (we think) humans to feed.
Will Mademoiselle Laura stay with the show? She's the centrepiece, and she also chips in and does whatever needs doing along the way - I bet she even drives one of the trucks.
Will people continue to go to the circus? This is a big question for Irish circuses too. This one is in Céreste once a year - with such a small population, will audience numbers be sufficient to keep them going? It's hard to say, but the small kids loved the show, with one small boy remaining in his seat long after the goodbyes were said, in the hope that something else would happen!
I wish Le Cirque est Roi well, and I hope that they continue to introduce les animaux exotics to small children for years to come, with Mademoiselle Laura continuing to bring a bit of sparkle to small country towns for another few years before she is drawn away by the lure of a bigger Big Top.