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."

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Clown Gathering UK offers great show!

If you're in reach of Lowestoft at the beginning of March, be sure to grab a ticket for A Variety of Clown Comedy at the Seagull Theatre. The show, on March 1 and 2 is the highlight of Clown Gathering UK, when clowns who have come together from all over the UK and as far away as Canada for a week of talks and workshops step on stage to show the public what they can do.

Last year's revue provided a unique chance to see such a wide range of clowns and clowning styles on one stage, and this year's show looks set to do the same.

Tickets are available from the Seagull box office on 01502 589726.

For more on Clown Gathering UK, click here.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Today Ringling, tomorrow your horse, dog, cat and Big Mac

The announcement of Ringling Bros circus closing this year, makes it an apt juncture to re-read the words of tiger tamer Thomas Chipperfield in the Times, above. (Click on the image and it should come up big enough to read)

The end of Ringling has been claimed as a victory by animal rights campaigners. It was their lobbying that led to the legislation in key American cities like Los Angeles that made travelling with an animal show as big as Ringling untenable - and it was when they took the elephants out of the show that people stopped buying tickets.

But where will the victory lead?

As Chipperfield points out, circuses have only ever been the thin end of the wedge. The animal rights movement is an ideology that wants to outlaw zoos, horse riding, pet ownership, meat eating, leather and even wool production. Peta is open about it, although no one seems to listen, or maybe care.

Perhaps one day, when it's their dogs and cats and Big Macs at stake, the world will remember that a lion tamer tried to warn them that it was about much more than circuses all along.

And that the elephants that disappeared from Ringling last year were really canaries in a coal mine.

For more on the issues of animals in the circus, read Circus Mania - The Ultimate Book for Anyone who Dreamed of Running Away With the Circus. 

Monday, 16 January 2017

If the circus was a country...

I found these words by Jamie Clubb incredibly moving when I first read them, and at a time when the circus is hurting over Ringling‘s closure, now even more so...

Pablo Fanque
Britain's first black
circus showman
“Think of a society that, on a political basis, is both the capitalist and socialist's dream. Think of a society that employed ex-slaves ahead of everyone else and by its very nature is multicultural. Think of a society that has a hierarchy and even a system ingrained in culture and tradition and yet opened its doors to absolutely anyone who was willing to work hard and provide them with the realistic dream of climbing to the top of their professional tree. 

Mabel Stark
Tiger trainer
“Think of a society that always provided equal opportunities for men and women; a society that had a woman heading a strong family business years before women had the equal vote. Think of a society that provided highly profitable employment and success for the disabled when the rest of society only offered poverty or the workhouse. 

Alex Lacey
English star of Ringling Bros.
"Think of a society that brought animals from all over the world to people who never knew they existed and further worked with institutions that to this day work to conserve these species.  Think of a society that through exposing people to said animals brought awareness of said animals' plight in the wild. 

Billy Smart and Yasmine Smart
meet Princess Margaret
“Think of a culture that entertained audiences of all classes and creeds. Think of a culture that takes the form of a global family accepting leaders as equals of any sex, race, religion, philosophical position, sexual orientation or moderate political persuasion. Think of an institution that boosted the economy, never asked for government support or public funding, that worked off their own steam and integrated themselves into every community they visited, often providing job opportunities. 

“Think of a society that built buildings over a century ago that still stand today and brought elements that are part of the very fabric of modern entertainment. 

Daily Mail
"Then imagine if that culture is shunned by the country that invented it and suffers fashionable prejudice. Imagine if said society's very name prompts disdain to such a degree that it has become accepted as noun for general lowliness. These are my people. This is the circus community."

- Jamie Clubb
Author of The Legend of Salt and Sauce - The Amazing Story of Britain’s Most Famous Elephants

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Politics and the circus

Political circus is a common expression, but from public funding of the arts to legislation on circus animals, the changing tides of politics do blow like gales against the walls of the big top.

In this article on Blasting News, I offer my analysis of how last year's votes for Donald Trump and Brexit will affect the issue of animals in the big top. Click here to read it.

And click here for the latest news on changing attitudes to circus animals in Wales.