Sunday, August 10, 2008

Send In The Clowns

Noah and I have been talking about circuses for a couple years, but he has never been to one, so when I saw the Ringling Brothers were coming to town, I decided it was high time.

I picked a day when Michael could stay home with the twins and we got tickets for a matinee at the San Diego Sports Arena, which is now rather oddly named the "IPayOne Center".

After purchasing the tickets, I surprised Noah with the news that we were going to a really great circus and the questions about what we would be seeing began. So I went to YouTube to show him videos of the show, and was rather dismayed to find that most of the videos were about some allegedly horrible treatment of the animals by the circus staff. Apparently they have had a few deaths of young elephants, stemming from a drowning, and broken bones from falling off a pedestal during training. It was interesting... upon our arrival, we were immediatly offered a flyer touting their Center for Elephant Conservation.

We really did get a lot of entertainment for our money. They keep the ticket prices really reasonable because they sell stuff inside the arena for ridiculous prices. I had promised Noah some cotton candy because, well, its the circus, and its only right to eat cotton candy. But when I found out the bag cost TEN DOLLARS, even Noah completely understood why I balked. "But it comes with this foam circus hat!" the guy says. Can I get it for cheaper without the hat? Uh-uh.

I promised Noah lunch out with Mommy after the circus instead.

The coolest thing about the event was that if you showed up an hour and a half before the circus even began, you got to walk around outside and see the animals up close, and then go inside and go down on the floor and see jugglers close up, stand at the feet of tall guys on stilts, get your pictures taken with the clowns, and even try on circus clothes! It was a really wonderful experience. We had had a blast before we even found our seats!

The show itself was outstanding. Coming from a theater background, I know what it takes to produce a play in one theater, how much more it takes to put that play on tour, but THIS!? Just moving the animals alone... building the stables, laying down the sawdust, transporting and delivering food for the animals, tearing all that down and moving on... plus the show itself, with so many life threatening acts that require safety precautions to be checked and rechecked again and again. Plus costumes... the hanging, focusing, removing of lights, the construction, tear down and storage of sets...


I asked Noah if he were to run away with the circus, which job he would want. He chose the "confetti shooter". I'd want to be a clown. That could put a chink in my marriage, though. My husband thinks clowns are evil.

And the calibre of the performers was very high. All kinds of acrobats. The act that really astounded us both was when they brought out this spherical cage, and they put four motorcyclists into it. They rode so fast that they would do "loop the loops" upside down and not crash into each other. Then they added another cycle and another until there were seven! And the cage was pretty small! Here is a video of the act. You can see it pretty well. Check out the guy who leaves the formation to drive on a perpendicular axis to the others (is that mathematically correct?). You might want to turn down your volume before watching the video but its a great feat!

The show was so great that if they added a few other spectacular human events, they could probably forgo the animal acts. I know those are old-time circus fodder, but I think we are getting enlightened enough to let go of that kind of entertainment in exchange for letting those animals live a life more closely resembling their natural lifestyle. Even if they are being treated with the utmost care, which seems to be in question.

If they did that, I think they just might possibly qualify to be the Greatest Show on Earth.


gpc said...

Circuses always made me anxious and sad because the animals were forced to do things that animals don't naturally do. I am so glad we are moving beyond that. (and Michael might be right about the clowns!)

But my kids loved the circus and saw only the daring and the glitter. How cool that you got to walk around and see things up close. How awful that a teaspoon of sugar now costs $10 when it's spun into cotton candy!

gpc said...
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Snowbird said...

Sounds like you guys had a great time. Geez, $10 for cotton candy??? I remember when it was no more than $1.00! Maybe the Sports Arena should be called the "IPayTen Center".

Ya know, I've never been thrilled with clowns myself. Maybe that's why I'm not a big Halloween costume person. I don't like dealing with someone who hides behind a mask!

I'm so glad that you guys had a fun time and how grown up of Noah to forego the cotton candy for a lunch out with Mommy.

emily said...

i'm kinda blown away that the cotton candy cost $10. i mean, i know they want to mark it up, but jeez! that is insane!

the pictures are beautiful - and the video with the motorcycles? WOW! awesome. definitely some great memories made.

Cindy said...

Sounds like fun! Glad you and Noah got some fun time together.

I have mixed feelings about the circus and animal treatment too, but I'm certainly not ant-circus... just concerned, you know?

By the way, I just finished reading "Water for Elephants". It's fiction but based on the circus in the 1940's. Don't know how much of it was true (again, it was fiction) but a lot of interesting tidbits about the behind the scenes of circuses.

MariBy said...

Time changes a lot of things (look at how much we recycle even compared to 5 or 10 years ago!) there are only a few circuses around now, and maybe that's a good thing.

I'm glad that Noah enjoyed the one-on-one time with his Mom. :)

Nicole D aka Mama de Trois said...

I'm so shocked after watching those videos. Makes me never want to go to the circus again :(
I feel so bad for the animals..