IT may not have been as exciting as the Wheel of Death, or even the Globe of Death - thankfully! But my debut circus performance proved surprisingly more nerve wracking than I anticipated.
While some acts take months, even years to perfect, and that’s after they’ve mastered the basics, Planet Circus invited me to the big top at Lebberston for an afternoon to take part in a live performance with Chico Rico the clown.
“You are going to throw the plates to me. I will be dressed as Elvis,” said Chico Rico, who’s seventh generation Mexican of a circus family. It’s odd to me, but to him it’s the life.
“When you grow up in the circus, it’s like reading and writing; you start to do trapeze, juggling, acrobatics, the only reason that I’m a clown is because people say I’m good at it. I make people feel part of the show and everybody is very happy.”
My mentor takes me into the ring and despite no practice in the domestic situation, I can throw a dinner plate quite accurately, although our photographer and cameraman do take a few steps in the opposite direction.
Practice over with and it’s time to get changed. Amelia Pavlov, an amazing rope dancer at only 15 years-old, loans me one of her less revealing outfits - a black and white polka dot halter net with pink straps and pink netting underneath - oh I felt the part alright! Backstage I met up with the performers and considering they’re halfway through a six-week stint and with at least one daily performance, they had a genuine buzz about the upcoming show.
This actually made me all the more nervous; considering the amount of time and dedication that goes into each component, from wrestlers on trampolines to high wires and the Globe of Death bikers, I didn’t want to let anyone down. Just before my debut I ask Chico: “What’s the worst thing I can do?” He replies: “break the plate.”
He passes through the curtain before me, the ringmaster calls my name and there I am in front of a full crowd and all I can think is “Smile, wave and please don’t break a plate!”
It’s all going well, we’re about halfway through the fifteen and then I must throw one haphazardly. Chico misses, it breaks against the stand and in the process knocks another plate which smashes to the ground.
Chico laughs as we come off and other people congratulate me, but I broke the plate. They say: “Only two”.
I have since thought about this, and with all his year’s practice, Chico must be an expert plate catcher. So, was it my haphazard throw or a teaser for the crowd?..I’m not telling!