French circus company Circa Tsuia have arrived in Poole's Hamworthy Park for their performances of Now or Never this weekend. If you're heading down to the park over the next few days you won't fail to notice their collection of caravans and tents as the company bring circus traditions into the 21st century by making the park their home for the duration of the run.
This morning some of the Lighthouse marketing team had the privilege of watching as the company pulled together as one to set up their impressive red, white and blue Big Top. It was by no means an easy feat - despite the sunshine the wind was beginning to get up and company site manager Babs explained to us how even the slightest breeze can make the whole process quite hazardous - once the canvas starts to billow it becomes increasingly hard to control. It takes a huge team (I counted 13 people) to winch the canvas up into place and secure it safely to the ground with tent pegs. I use the term 'tent pegs' lightly - these are in fact 1.5m long metal rods which are driven 3/4m into the grass - not easy in the hard-baked summer ground! Take a look at our pictures and a great time lapse video taken by our Digital Officer Jodie, which shows you exactly how it all comes together.
Babs give us a tour around the site. She explains how the circus is a close-knit community who live together, work together and travel together. The performers are incredibly hard-working - all of them are involved in erecting the big top, and as well as showcasing their incredible circus skills (which include acrobatics, cyr wheel, trapeze and trick bicycles) they also all play at least one brass instrument during the performance. It takes the best part of a day to set the big top up fully - sadly we can't stay for it all, but what we did see was pretty impressive. It's hard to believe that at 9pm last night they were taking the big top down in Oxford and that by midday today they already had the main structure and canvas roof set up in Hamworthy Park. It's a real team effort.
The company all cook for each other and eat together in a large canteen tent - we are treated to a very strong, very black French coffee and are advised to choose the small mugs to drink it from! Many of the performers travel with their families, and children are home-schooled in one of the circus tents each day by a resident teacher. We pop our heads in to say "bonjour" and they are completely unfazed by our presence.
Whilst on site we take the opportunity to display some vinyl banners, drop more leaflets into the nearby cafe and give some out to the families enjoying the play area and splash park . Babs tells us the lovely paddling pool has been a big hit with the French children!
A music rehearsal is scheduled to take place on Thursday afternoon with talented young musicians from the Jazz Orchestra at Queen Elizabeth's School in Wimborne, who were selected to join the circus for their performances in Poole. We'll be aiming to bring you a sneaky behind-the-scenes preview, so watch this space!
There's still time to book for Now or Never, which takes place from this Friday - Sunday in Hamworthy Park. Book oline or call our friendly ticket office on 01202 280000.
If you're thinking of coming to see the circus, here's some handy parking information which may just help you plan your journey:
There is a small car park next to Hamworthy Park. Limited additional parking is available at Carter Community School from 30 minutes before and after the show. There is no fee but donations are welcome. The school is a 10 minute walk from the Big Top in Hamworthy Park.