A circus “jumps “ (travels to a new location) many times over the course of a tour, and it always lands on its feet. Business continues as usual. Yesterday the troupers worked through their notes and warm-ups with their usual intensity and focus and I wandered off for a much-needed shower and shave. I had just was walking back from the concrete shower house across pavement hot enough to cook an egg, when I noticed that I’ve been on tour long enough for the days to start to run together. It’s taken a number of adjustments, but I’m getting the hang of this.
I joined up with Smirkus directly after returning from a semester abroad where my day-to-day habits were much different than the routine in which I currently find myself. This is not a separate country, but a lifestyle and an art form that I’ve neither fully understood nor experienced until now. From an artistic perspective, the circus represents an interesting intersection of choreographed dance, acrobatics of various kinds, and melodramatic theater. The result is something in the realm of the fantastic; something that appeals to the less scientific and more whimsical side of human nature. Maybe that’s why it’s endured for so long. This visual art is not theater, dance, or gymnastics; it is a circus and like all circuses, it attracts all manner of people wonderful in their own right, to create something for the enjoyment of everyone in the tent.
The physical space I occupy has since shrunk. I’ve fully accepted the fact that my bedroom walls are paper-thin and the trailer rattles and shakes when the costume designer does laundry next door until 1 am. My neighborhood is a cluster of such trailers gathered in a circle around a soccer tent shading beach chairs, a cooler and a radio. My kitchen is a trailer and my dining room is a tent with picnic tables. My desk is a milk crate on the floor. If I want legroom while I type, I sit on the floor and open the cabinet under the bunk and extend my legs inside while I sit with my back against the wall shaking from the laundry machine and dryer on the other side. After the events of the fourth of July, the crew has been scrambling to supply power to all parts of the site and when the power is out and the air conditioning with it; the heat is everywhere. It is suffocating.
Naturally this lifestyle isn’t for everyone. But such a commitment offers its own rewards. Talk to any of the kids clustered next to the ring before or after the show and you’ll understand what keeps the staff and troupers coming back year after year. For me, the highlight of my day is right before the show when the nerves of the troupers are primed like charges and they throw their hands in the middle for a final cheer and my spirits rise with them as the camera shutter snaps and I run back to the computer to perform my own part.
Evan Johnson, Communications Intern