A circus theme took over Rooster and my life since our visit to Peru, Indiana. Imagine our surprise when the Cirque Italia came to town. #Cirque Italia #Peru #Indiana #Circus City Museum
Cirque Italia Came to Town
My life seems to be revolving around the circus these days. It all started last winter when Rooster and I visited the Circus City Museum in Peru, Indiana. Rooster and I couldn’t believe our eyes when we drove down the highway and saw a giant circus tent erect in the parking lot of a local business. The Cirque Italia came to town. I was ready to type “the end” to the first draft of the fourth book in my Hen House series.
About the story that won’t leave me alone.
A story idea wouldn’t leave me alone after our visit. It haunted me for over a month. I couldn’t get away from the concept of all these circus people spending the winter in conservative central Indiana. You might find the local Methodist minister’s wife might be standing in line behind the bearded lady at the grocery store.
I couldn’t get the image out of my mind. The mixture of people would be so odd it staggered my imagination. If you added the element of these circus people all had superpowers, which make doing the death-defying acts possible, the story takes on an added dimension. I couldn’t resist putting my fingers to the keyboard and seeing what sort of story took shape. I’m over thirty-thousand words and twenty-five chapters into the book. For now, I’m calling the book Circus People.
International Circus Hall of Fame
Rooster and I went on an excursion to investigate the International Circus Hall of Fame less than a month ago. We stood on the actual ground where three circuses spent the winter. It was the headquarters where these traveling shows received their marching orders in the spring. It was a wonderful experience touring the old barns.
I got so much useful information from the gracious people I met there it made our trip a wonderful adventure. Imagine our surprise when we were cruising down the highway and spotted what looked like a circus Big Top. The blue and white tent stood out against the dark clouds in the Indiana sky. We drove into the parking lot where it was built to investigate. They didn’t show up with a parade of elephants and clowns, but the Cirque Italia had come to town.
The advertisement displayed on the outside of the semi-truck trailer advertised the show as a water circus. Rooster and I didn’t have the slightest concept of what a water circus would entail, but we knew we had to see what this Cirque Italia was all about. I did a little research and discovered the show was a European styled circus performed on a water stage, which holds 35,000 gallons of water. This show was billed to be the world’s first traveling water circus. This piqued my curiosity even more. What would go on during the performance of a water circus?
Would the ats take place in a giant water tank? How would the people doing the acrobatics hold their breath long enough to entertain us? I had to have the answer to all these questions. We watched an online video. This circus seemed to perform in a Cirque du Solell style. This was enough to convince Rooster to purchase the tickets for the show. He always wanted to see a live performance by Cirque du Soleil. The price of admission seemed like a bargain to him.
Rooster bought the tickets
I was as nervous as a kid on Christmas morning the night we went back to attend the circus. There was magic in the air when we strolled into the large blue and white tent. Our tickets specified we had seats near the top of the bleachers on the left side of the stage. Rooster and I recognized the center ring rigging from our visit to the International Circus Hall of Fame. This giant metal frame looked like it came out of a child’s giant Erector Set. The big top supports differed from what we saw near the barn at the International Circus Hall of Fame.
This apparatus glowed green before it changed to a bright blue. Merchants moved through the crowd selling light sticks, drinks in multi-lighted cups, and cotton candy. The light sticks came in all shapes and sizes. Some of them had a wheel attached, which spun around, throwing off an array of colored lights. There were so much spinning lights in bold colors in the audience; they became a preshow spectacular themselves.
Clown with a twist
The show began with a clown-like character announcing where the exits were. He informed us that the audience couldn’t take pictures of any part of the show. This was a disappointment to me. I love to capture events with my camera. Acrobats performed death-defying aerial acts as soon as the clown-like character left the stage. There were contortionists, jugglers, a robot-like being doing a light show, and several aerial acts. The stunt done by these artists was amazing. The clowns on stage performed like clumsy businessmen in the version of the Cirque Italia that came to town.
These performers convinced me circus people do have superpowers, or at least a large dose of bravery the rest of us don’t possess.
Fake animals at this circus
The European style circus had a Circus Du Solell feel, but it was performed on a stage surrounded by water. The lighting illuminated water which fell from the ceiling to the stage. Streams of water sprouted up from the floor like a fountain in a village square. As far as I could tell, the performers didn’t need air tanks to breathe, but there were times when the audience found themselves holding their breath.
The only performers to get into the water were the clown and the ringmaster. They did a humorous skit involving the Titanic and The Baby Shark Song. This served to keep the audience entertained while the stage was rearranged for the next death-defying act.
When I was a kid, my family didn’t have the money to go to the circus. The price of admission was more than my mother could spare out of our meager budget. We did gather around our black and white TV every time one of the major networks broadcast “The Biggest Show on Earth.” The Cirque Italia Water Circus had many of the same elements of the old-fashioned circuses of my childhood only with a few distinct variations. This circus was modern and sleek.
The clown and the ringmaster
The clown didn’t wear greasepaint. He did have wild hair and big red shoes. His job seemed to be to irritate the ringmaster with his antics. The man functioning as the ringmaster didn’t seem to be directing the movements of the circus. He was busy playing straight man to the clown’s antics.
The Cirque Italia was animal-free unless you count the baby elephant, which was a guy dressed in an elephant suit. The same can be said of the dinosaur. The main element about this modern circus that made it different from those in the past was the technology. Therefore, no live animals performed when the Cirque Italia came to town.
Light show as part of the act
It was impressive the way words scrolled across the tents ceiling canvas. The lighting was computer programmed to change at the perfect time in the performance to illuminate the action taking place on the stage. It heightened the sense of drama and suspense as the aerialists moved through their routine suspended high in the air. I would show you the effect it had on the performance, but we weren’t allowed to take pictures.
Rooster got a little bored
Rooster and I enjoyed our circus adventure. He said there were points in the show where he got bored, but the kids around us seemed to enjoy the action. I think he expected something more for his money. We paid twenty-five dollars apiece to see the show. It would have made it worthwhile for him if there had been at least one tiger or a scary clown in the act. (We all know Rooster is cheap. He wants something dramatic and out of the ordinary before he thinks he’s got his money’s worth.)
This circus brought home to me the importance of preserving America’s circus history. The folks at the International Circus Hall of Fame are making an amazing effort to do that. I’m going to include their go fund me web address in this blog because I believe they have a worthy cause. Donate if you can. I don’t know where my year of circus encounters will take me in the future, but so far, it’s been an interesting adventure. With that final thought, I’ll say goodnight.
Who is Molly Shea?
Molly Shea is an accomplished fictional short story writer from Indiana, who writes short stories and novels about a fictional town called Tecumseh. To read more of her short stories and adventures click here.
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