Monday, July 18, 2016

Our Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey Circus Experience

We went to the Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey Circus last week at the Staples Center. It was opening night and I received a few media passes in exchange for a review on my blog.

The show, the stunts and the comedy were ALL truly spectacular. After all, the circus known as "The Greatest Show on Earth" has to, in some way, live up to the expectation of its name alone. My baby Toby was totally in awe with the performances! My 3-year old Benny had tons of questions like, "Mama, what happens if she falls?" and "Mama, is the floor slippery?" 

The Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey Circus offers a close-up look at human agility and ability. From the most critical viewpoint, there's no question the show is fantastic and has an immensely talented cast of performers. It's a colorful, vivid and fast moving experience. 

This year's show, "Out of This World", is a space-themed adventure where audiences get to see a lot of bright, neon action! Imagine such feats as stuntmen dressed as astronauts, balancing beams atop a moving wheel and giant planet-looking spheres draped in unique, bold, space colors that suddenly unveil female contortionists inside... It's awesome!
I watched a giant pig go down a slide, which made me laugh out loud and seeing the clowns run around with their hats on fire made my son Benny have one of those never-ending and contagious laughing attacks. 
Now to the not-so-good part: Getting into the circus, which will offer nightly performances in three different arenas through August 7, may be uncomfortable and distracting-- and not necessarily in a bad way, although at first it may feel intrusive. I'll explain.

When we arrived at the Staples Center in Downtown LA, a huge group of animal rights protesters stood in front of of the main entrance trying to get everyone to think twice about going inside.
Their argument: wild animals should not be forced to perform and travel in what they describe as "cruel" conditions.
Side note: The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, PETA, took the Ringling Brothers Circus to court over their use of elephants during circus acts and as of this year, the circus no longer featured the pachyderms.
Nonetheless, there's still a lion and tiger act that's quite impressive but had me sweating and feeling WAY. TOO. NERVOUS. 

The lion tamer, a wildly brave Alexander Lacey, was probably nervous too, on opening night.
I wasn't the only person to sense this but the cats were getting aggravated and starting to act aggressive. A lioness at one point growled and clutched its fangs at Alexander. One of the tigers was refusing to cooperate. As the performance progressed, the cats seemed increasingly irritated.
The truth is, the big cats are simply out of their element. 
I kept thinking "OMG. How traumatizing for kids if the cats decide to rebel and attack their tamer!"

Throughout his performance, the tamer had a whip and lashed it out frequently, which made me wonder: How often does he give these wild cats a physical reprimand during rehearsals? 

For as much as the circus provides a chance to get a close glimpse of human interaction with wild animals, I kept telling my husband that I feared it was only a matter of time before one of those animals snaps, causing chaos and tragedy in front of thousands. What was once perhaps a passing thought started becoming a very permanent idea: the circus is not a place for wild animals. 

With this in mind, I'm not dissuading anyone from going to the circus. The horse show will make anyone proud of what humans can achieve with domesticated animals. The popcorn and snacks for sale carried up and down the stands make it fun and a perfect excuse to have a cheat meal. 

The circus is such an important element of American entertainment history (Ringling Brothers is 142 years old) that it's worth giving your children the chance to experience it, just be understanding of the protesters outside. They've definitely got a point too. 

Ticket information here.


Unknown said...

Great post! I am a circus fan, but I haven't seen this one in many years. A company that doesn't use animals is Cirvus Vargas, a CA original. They're smaller and use a tent they purchased not too long ago. Anyway, it's usually very cheap on Goldstar and the seats aren't far at all. Thanks for posting!! :-)

Anabel Marquez said...

I've never been to a Circus Vargas show. I must check it out! Thanks Arthur!!