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Circus Roncalli!

21/12/2015 - 13:29-0 Comments by | kenya flag

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Roncalli circus – Circus Roncalli, as it is called. It is a German circus founded in 1976 and still going strong, almost 40 years later. As I learnt from Wikipedia, the name’s similarity to the popular Pope John XXIII (1881–1963), whose legal name was Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, contributed to the success of the circus.

The opportunity to attend came in the form of a German friend of mine who got some free front-row tickets in her mail.  She lives near the circus venue, and as compensation for any noise that might arise during its performances, the circus distributed free tickets to every house in the venue’s vicinity.  Yes, really! And so it is that she, I and two other friends found ourselves at the circus.  She had last attended one as a child of 3 years old, while I had never been in one – in Kenya there aren’t really circuses – so this was the perfect opportunity to do something somewhat novel.  The other two friends had been at a circus somewhat more recently than us but didn’t mind attending again.

As we walked in, the clown at the door asked us to stroke a small plastic piglet in his hand “for good luck”.  My friend was suspicious of this and asked if the piglet bites as part of its tricks.  The clown looked at us with wide, innocent eyes and said “No, of course it doesn’t!” and urged us to try, with the most sincere look on his face (come to think of it, many clowns seem to have wide, innocent eyes – hmmm – is this a requirement for the profession?  Food for thought)….. Well, back to the piglet.  The first of us stroked it, fine.  The second of us, no reaction. Just when the third of us touched it, it gave a super-loud squeal and shook violently, making us all jump backwards in startled surprise! You can picture the clown laughing at us, and us laughing at ourselves after the surprise wore off.  That was a fitting preview of the night ahead of us.

From the majestically high dome of the circus tent, to the live band, playing sometimes pompously, sometimes wistfully above us, the proud-looking horses and dogs doing tricks on stage,  close enough for one to feel their breath and smell their animal scent, the glittering lights, the clowns in their multi-coloured outfits, the supple acrobats twisting themselves into all sorts of unbelievable poses…..it was a truly stimulating sensory experience.  At the beginning the four of us were looking at each other somewhat sheepishly, perhaps all thinking “this is a kids’ event”, but by the time the 2.5 hours were over we had been totally sucked into the spirit of fun and laughter.  As I sat there enjoying the spectacle, it occurred to me that a circus is a good example of intercultural entertainment – you don’t need to understand any language in particular to enjoy the tricks.  So long as you can see, you will have fun.

As part of the last dance by all the performers, one of my friends was picked out to do a waltz with one of the circus ladies (a hazard of being in front row seats) – good thing he had attended some dance classes before!  When at the end, the maestro came out to bid us goodbye, there was a general reluctance to leave – it was obvious that many of us were trying to linger in our seats, to savour a bit more of the fantasy world that we had so enjoyed.  If Circus Roncalli visits your city or a city near you I would recommend trying it for yourself.

Tags: English Blog Post, Holidays & Events, Leisure Time

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