LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, BOYS AND GIRLS... welcome to the big top blog of Douglas McPherson, author of CIRCUS MANIA, the book described by Gerry Cottle as "A passionate and up-to-date look at the circus and its people."

Friday, 10 January 2014

Eva Garcia inspires behind-the-scenes circus book

Bravery, brilliance and beauty
inside the Big Top
- Circus Mania

in the Norwich Evening News

The bravery, brilliance and beauty inside the big top was the headline of this feature by Derek James in the Norwich Evening News, in which author Douglas McPherson reveals the inspiration behind Circus Mania.

Today most of the animals have gone but the circus has survived and delights a new generation of fans with humans taking centre stage as exotic acts from around the world fly around the big top.

The Great Yarmouth Hippodrome
- Britain's oldest circus building
where the story of Circus Mania began
Our very own circus master and showman Peter Jay has proved beyond all doubt that the circus can survive without elephants, tigers and lions, as thousands of people of all ages and all walks of life queue up to enjoy his colourful shows at the Hippodrome in Great Yarmouth.

The story of the circus and how it has managed to keep going and adapt over the centuries is a fascinating one which has now been taken up by Norfolk writer Douglas McPherson.

His new book, Circus Mania, is a behind-the-scenes journey through the world of circus from Norfolk’s very own piece of circus history, the Hippodrome, to the world famous Cirque du Soleil.

Along the way Douglas talks to clowns, sword-swallowers, trapeze artists and tiger trainers about their lives, culture and history.

“Circus folk are a breed apart,” says Douglas. “I wanted to tell their story, because it’s seldom been told before.”

The inspiration for the book came when the theatrical newspaper The Stage asked him to review the Hippodrome show back in 2003.

Inside the Great Yarmouth Hippodrome
- where the ring becomes a pool!
(a picture from Circus Mania)
“This was the first time I had been to the circus for decades and I didn’t know what to expect. I certainly didn’t expect the steamy humidity of a jungle, the pungency of chlorine... and synchronised swimmers,” he said.

“What Jay delivers instead of horses and lions is spectacle. He dresses the circus up with an exciting blend of ear-splitting chart music, nightclub lighting and MTV-style dance routines, fountains and swimmers.

“But behind all the razzle-dazzle are human circus skills that rely on one thing alone: the almost unbelievable skill, strength and bravery of the men and women who perform them,” says Douglas.

He talks about the Valez Brothers who took his breath away on the Wheel of Death and then he meets Eva - Eva Garcia.

Eva Garcia
"You really have to love it
to live in the circus."
“Hers is a graceful act, equal parts artistic and gymnastic, a gravity-defying ballet performed in the air high above our heads in the roof of the Hippodrome.

“She is a stunningly attractive woman, who’s green eyes and exotic features are evidence of her mixture of Spanish, English and Irish blood - and, perhaps more than anything, circus blood,” writes Douglas.

Eva tells him: “There are a lot of good things about the circus. But then there are a lot of bad things.

“It’s very tough, mentally and physically. You really have to love it to live in the circus.”

Eva told Douglas she had worked out she had another ten years of performing ahead of her. And she adds, with a laugh: “You still have to have good tricks, but these days you don’t have to kill yourself.”

Douglas said it was a good quote which came out in his story in The Stage the following week.

“Whether Eva gets to read, however, I don’t know. The day after the interview, Eva falls 30 feet during her act. She dies instantly,” he writes. “The word bravery is bandied about lightly in the arts. Often it refers to nothing more daring than an unusual choice of song.

“For the circus breed it is a nightly way of life and, sometimes, death.”

The show must go on forever
How the Mail on Sunday
reviewed Circus Mania
Circus Mania - The Ultimate Book For Anyone Who Dreamed of Running Away With The Circus was described by the Mail on Sunday as “A brilliant account of a vanishing art form.”

Click here to read four 4-star reader’s reviews and buy the paperback or ebook from Amazon.

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