A few weeks ago, a traditional circus came to the town near where I live. Traditional, as in holding/imprisoning and exploiting exotic animals to make money. As you can tell by my choice of words, I in no way support animals in circus's or in Zoo's. The animals that came to town with this circus, included 3 male lions, a Tiger, 2 camels, 3 Shetland Ponies and some Geese. I was quite shocked to learn that the circus was allowed here and instinctively knew that I could not be silent.
I was not alone in my silence and before long protests where arranged and happened every night before the circus started. We arrived with signs protesting about the animals being used and we handed out information to those wishing to attend.
The first night we stood outside the circus grounds and I could hear the lions inside their cages, they were very vocal, but the sound they made was that of a defeated animal, not one who is wild and proud. It was really hard to hear, what should have been a loud, powerful roar, that should raise hairs on your skin, was now a shallow sound. It really broke my heart to have to hear that.
That's me on the right, holding my youngest daughter with my oldest two in front.
Those people who did choose to come to the circus, seemed embarrassed passing by us. The circus owners, themselves lectured us about how having cats and dogs as companions was the same as having lions and other animals in a Circus. They were not open to any dialogue and eventually turned up their speakers to drown out our protest and called the Policia Locale, who promptly told us to move on as we were obstructing a business. Yes indeed the business of exploiting and abusing animals.
And yes I realize that this is their livelihood, but what are we meant to just turn a blind eye and allow these things to happen. Too many unjust things happen in the world and people stay silent. But if something like this is happening in my community I will not be silent, I want my voice to be heard. So I went with my children and we stood there trying to explain to others why it is not okay to exploit other beings. Some of it fell on deaf ears, but a few people did turn around.
But protesting alone is never enough, it may help to get the message out, but change needs to occur, a way forward that still supports the idea of the circus, but just a different type of circus.
So last week another circus arrived in town. Nicole & Martin! This circus is a family run. travelling theatre , with no animals, just two parents and their two sons. They put up their White Tent and tell tales, based on Grimm stories with a combination of music, circus, theatre, acrobatics and comedy. They are a non-profit theatre company that began in 1999 out of a desire by two adults Nicole and Martin to create a travelling theatre that knows no borders, be it nationality, language, age or background.
And they have succeeded, they have performed in 12 different countries and in eight different languages, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese or Dutch.
I went to see a show Called the Fisherman and his Wife, above is the only picture I took inside the tent, it is at the very beginning and after that I was kept too entertained to take anymore.
The fisherman sits and waits for a fish to bite. To his amazement the fish that he catches is an enchanted one: one that grants the fisherman and his wife many wishes... What their wishes are you will find out from the fisherman’s repeated, and repeated, and repeated trips to the sea… Nicole and Martin conjure up an entire glorious play out of a single wooden box: the ocean, the long table in the castle, an emperor’s finery and even the sun itself. This joyful and popular show is a rollercoaster theatrical journey from one wish to the next, until the biggest wish of them all
This very talented family, whose two boys, aged around 7 and 10 use very little props and rely on their vast skills to entertain the crowd. The mother and father both play numerous instruments, sing and perform acrobatics. All they used on stage was a chest with a few different pieces of material to set the scene, two boxes, a length of bamboo, their instruments and a huge gong and with just those things they entertained a crowd that varied in age from 0 to 100. I was transfixed by their performances, where I laughed and cried and cheered loudly. This is what entertainment is meant to be. This is exactly the sort of circus we need to be supporting.
This circus is done from a place of love, from a passion that this family holds in entertaining others and also having a lifestyle that allows them to travel and share their gift with others. We do not need to be using animals to entertain, we as humans are more than capable of doing just that. I could write and write about the horrors that animals have to endure when kept in captivity and believe you me there are many. But instead I want to shine a light on a solution, on something we should all be supporting.
So if you see this theatre company in your town, please go and support them. It's a win, win all round, because you will be transported into a magical fairytale and entertained and amazed and you will also be helping to support the only type of circus that should exist right now.