Billy Smart's Circus puts reporter through her paces
Buy this photo » Reporter Emma Dunn tries her hand at juggling
THE bright lights of the big top are shining down on Billy Smart’s Circus this week as they entertain audiences just outside the Oasis Leisure Centre.
Jugglers, clowns, a hand balancing act and an aerial silk artist are just some of the stars who wowed the crowd during their opening performance yesterday, with shows continuing until Sunday.
I was lucky enough to go behind the scenes before their first performance, where I got the chance to try my hand at aerial silks and juggling.
Aerial silk artist Josie makes it look easy as she wraps her legs around the material and demonstrates her flexibility.
I, on the other hand, weakly pulled myself up on the silk and needed Eddy the juggler to prop me up as Josie helped me tie a knot with my leg.
After a small struggle all three of us managed to get me in an attempt at a pose, which was nothing like the stunning shapes that Josie had been making.
My next challenge was to have a go at juggling, but as I have no hand-eye co-ordination, Eddy decided I should try to take one of the balls while he juggled rather than attempting to throw all three myself.
I caught the ball twice before losing it completely and had to run across the performance space to get it.
So after trying just two of the acts at the circus it is safe to say I won’t be changing career any time soon.
Acts at Billy Smart’s Circus include an Australian flying trapeze act, Desiree’s hand-balancing act – in which she fires a bow and arrow with her feet – acrobats, jugglers, aerialists and a fireman who works his routine on a flaming ladder.
Performances this week will be at 4.45pm and 7.30pm today and Friday.
On Saturday there will be performances at 2pm, 4.45pm and 7.30pm, and on Sunday performances will be at 12.30pm and 3.30pm.
The big top, which holds 700 people, has already been to Coventry and Reading as part of Billy Smart’s first UK tour for more than 30 years.
Billy Smart’s New World Circus began in 1946 when the highly successful showman, known to his family and staff as The Guv’nor, bought a big top and added circus performances to his funfair as an extra attraction.
Over the next 25 years, Billy Smart’s Circus became a household name, touring under a massive 5,000-seat big top.
It toured Britain during the 1950s and 1960s and stopped touring at the end of 1971.
Mathieu the clown, who is one of the stars of the show, said: “We have a good balance between comedy, acrobatics, flying trapeze and a springboard act.
“We all work hard to make the show fast and enjoyable. It all moves very quickly.
“Audiences can expect two hours of real enjoyment. It is not only for children and not only for adults, it is for everyone. We make sure there is always something for everyone so everbody enjoys it.”
Tickets for adults range from £12 to £24 and tickets for children range from £10 to £18.
They are available from the ticket office outside the big top or visit www.billy-smarts-circus.co.uk.