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50 Years of Circus and Magic come to Weymouth
WEYMOUTH is welcoming ‘the future of circus’ with a show that packs 50 acts into 100 minutes.
Circuit regular Gerry Cottle is back in town with his new show, 50 Years of Circus and Magic.
The show at Lodmoor Country Park marks the veteran ringmaster’s 50th year in the business and is also a chance for him to introduce his young stars, who learned their skills at Mr Cottle’s training centre at Wookey Hole, Somerset.
The youngsters, aged between 16 and 20, make up part of the 60-strong cast of the show, and their talents include juggling, riding unicycles and acrobatics.
Mr Cottle, 67, said: “It has been quite difficult in this business since we had to get rid of our wild animals and we actually stopped using them long before we were forced to because we recognised that times had changed. But I think introducing lots of different acts, like we do in this show, is the way forward, and that young people are the future of circus.
“And of course, for them, it offers employment, the chance to travel the world, and it’s fun.”
Eighteen-year-old Ezra Tiltman joined the centre as something to do after school before moving in with the circus to pursue a career.
He said: “It’s very hard work, because if you want to be really good you have to practise all the time.
“But it’s also a lot of fun. My parents are happy to see me doing something I love in a career that has a future.”
Other acts include a daring high wire duo, Mad Max Norton the crossbow king, African acrobats, the Wheel of Death, illusionists the Magical Melvilles and clowns.
Gareth Ellis, known as his stage name Bippo, has lived in a circus from the age of 10.
The 23-year-old said: “I remember going to see a show when I was really young, and just fell in love.
“Then my dad got made redundant and so we decided as a family that we would run away and join the circus.”
He added: “This show is very different to other shows. There are so many different acts, it is fresh and young and alive.”
The show runs until Friday at 5pm and 7.30pm, on Saturday at 2pm and 5pm and on Sunday at 3pm.
Tickets cost £10 and are available from the on-site box office, which is open from 9am to 9pm.
For more information, visit www.gerrycottlescircus.co.uk.
• CONCENTRATE, don’t be scared and practise every day. That’s the advice of tightrope walker Ernesto Marino, who has a lifetime of experience.
Stood on a platform at 30ft and about to make my first attempt at the circus trick, there is little I can do about practise, so a few deep breaths will have to suffice. I put my hands firmly on the shoulders of Chico, Ernesto’s son, and step out onto the rope.
There was one question I was regretting asking Ernesto, originally from Colombia, when I was still on the ground.
He said: “I have seen someone die doing this. It was years and years ago. Three young guys were walking the rope, standing on each other’s shoulders, and the one right at the top did a somersault and fell. He died, right there in the ring.”
One step at a time, I discovered, is the trick. That, and clutch very tightly to Chico’s shoulders. In a surprisingly short amount of time, we reached the platform at the other side of the big top.
“Now for the part I didn’t tell you about,” Chico said with a grin. “We have to go back.”
Ernesto and Chico, known as Los Marinos, perform on the high wire with astounding grace, walking across blindfolded and doing tricks and stunts.
Still, I was proud I made it back to our original platform without falling. I had a harness on, so my fears of falling to a grisly death were somewhat unfounded, but, with the ordeal over, I asked Chico about his own lack of safety equipment.
“If I had fallen, I would have broken some bones,” he said. “But you just try not to think about that.”