Friday, January 11, 2008
The Magical Circus of Sāmoa
We went to the circus on opening night in Apia. I bet you didn’t expect such a tiny island to have its own circus, but Sāmoa does.
Right away I was enthralled with the size. Everything felt so tiny. It was a one-ring affair. As we crowded into the “big top” and squeezed past people to get to our seats, I couldn’t help being acutely aware of the smallness. The ring in the center felt like the size of someone living room. I know that it was bigger than that, but it felt that small and intimate. The other side of the tent was only a stone’s throw away. Everything felt very cramped.
We also caught on quite quickly that all of the performers played multiple roles. The guy that does acrobatic moves while dangling from a strap high in the air? He also drives a motorcycle in the metal cage. The girl that was in the juggling act? She also does acrobatic moves while dangling on a rope. The guy in the back working the lights and the soundboard? Oh, he was also in one of the magic acts. And all of them were out in the fairway at the entrance selling popcorn or manning the photo keychain booth. I definitely got the feel that this is a small, close group of people who live and travel together.
Cale kept pointing out that this was probably what circuses were like back in the dizzle. Back when they traveled by train and actually put of tents, instead of putting up shop in Market Square Arena or the Hoosier Dome (sorry, RCA Dome). The only thing this circus was missing were animals. No animals.
This circus does travel. Up next they will be in New Zealand. I started to wonder about being a tiny traveling circus in the South Pacific. If you were a tiny traveling circus in the states you could just move around by train or trucks and RVs. Not too expensive. But for the Magical Circus of Sāmoa to travel they have to leave the island and then the only option is boat or plane. I doubt they can get their equipment on a plane, so they must travel by boat. I wonder how costly that is. I mean they have a metal cage that three motorcycles ride around in. That thing has to be heavy and awkward to ship.
The circus acts mostly consisted of stupid human tricks. Not that they were stupid, it is just what those sorts of tricks have been called since Letterman started that segment. There were acrobats and people that could balance on their head on a drum. There were knives thrown and clowning around. That sort of stuff.
Something that was interesting was that the ringmaster said that in honor of Sāmoa and Cuba’s new relations, they had some Cuban circus performers with their troupe and that the theme for the evening was “Viva Havana.” They also appeared to have some performers from Brazil. I dunno about these international performers — the girl from Brazil was apparently named Nadia, a very Brazilian name if I ever heard one. Nobody looked particularly Cuban or Brazilian. There was the guy named Pedro...so….
I was enjoying the show, but it had been a long, long day and my back was killing me. I left at the intermission and sat outside reading a book. I came back in time for the finale, the motorcycle cage. That was actually very exciting and nerve wrecking. It got my pulse racing to watch these three guys on dirt bikes racing around inside that tiny cage.
Posted by Cale