Friday, November 07, 2008

MARK LAVENDER: Circus Musings



"The THEE-UH-TAH, the THEE-uh-tahhhh, what's HAPPENED to the THEE-uh-tahh?"

That plaintive question can be applied to the circus in America and elsewhere...
What's happened to the circus?

There are many good folks who are endeavoring daily to carry on the traditions... and there are again, so many good folks, good acts that have passed and are passing into history... and there would seem to be fewer and fewer new folks carrying on in that tradition of excellence.

We could blame many different causes... radical racketeering type groups, burgeoning regulations, the economy, lack of interest in traditions, modern media and entertainment....even laziness... but, circus hasn't disappeared... not yet... not by a long shot.

Granted there are some out there who might appear to be clueless as to what makes for a skillful and classy show... granted there are those who just "walk through" the steps in performance... granted there are some out there who are just plain discouraged.

But showmanship requires vision, nerve, skill, ability, the will to produce and display performances that enthrall, captivate, and inspire.

The circus needs a true sense and spirit of showmanship in order to shine.

The circus needs a true sense of community and belonging, a sense of SHARED VISION and FOCUS.

Without focus on the goal, the results are paltry.
Without shared vision and focus, there is no professionalism.
Without the professionalism, there is no excellence.

The circus is about, should be about one doing the very best to deliver performances that grab the senses, the imagination, and inspire dreams.

These things elevate the circus to an art. In its best sense, the circus should be about artistry.

To merely put on a costume and display skills is amateur at best, and can waste one's talents ...

To show spirit, heart, joy in living, and joy in presenting your skills and talents... as a gift for your audience, not just as mere entertainment, but to uplift... inspire... and create wonderful memories...

We hold our good memories dear and close to our hearts and we long for the "good old days" when such memories were gifted to us through the fine and wondrous performances displayed by talented, energetic, and polished artists of the times when the circus came to or near our towns.

Those wonderful memories were created in the present tense back then. Wonderful memories are created today, in the present tense... for today... for the future.

It would just seem that there are fewer memories around, being created for the future.

We may hear sad and wistful comments in various places longing for acts "like we used to have" back in the day and we may bemoan the difficult atmosphere that exists where it is harder for circuses to do what they have done in earlier years. We may even bemoan the pedestrian efforts of some who proffer what they would pass off as showmanship.

We have given in to despair in some ways... we have become fatalistic, complacent... even.. well, even lazy.. this laziness grew over time within the circus community.

It can be reversed IF we want it to!

There needs to be a renewed attitude among showpeople that says, "Watch me! You ain't never seen anything like this before, and you may never again!"

This attitude demands practice and polish and the will to never settle for anything but the best you can do.

But this is not the end of it... not the end of the circus... I don't believe it for a minute.

Maybe circus is just in partial hibernation or retreat, for lack of a better term...

The circus is never over unless and until EVERYBODY gives up on it... and you can bet there are plenty of folks out there who are not willing to let that happen.

There CAN be a renaissance of the circus tradition... there can be a rebirth of this worthy art form.

Good memories are created in the NOW.

It's up to any of us out there who haven't thrown out their "give a damn", whether you are one who would be an artist or an audience.

Give a damn.

~Mark Lavender

1 comment:

John Peters said...

Nicely stated Mark!

John Peters
Jupiter, FL