I love a circus. The excitement of stepping inside a Big Top that’s appeared on the site overnight. The buzz of the audience and the thrill of the whole family enjoying the show together and waiting to see what happens next. I can still clearly remember my dad taking me to see my first circus as a child in Rotherham’s Clifton Park and the plastic flag that I got to bring home with me at the end and played with for ages afterwards as I reenacted the show at home for my sister. Things have changed a lot since then (not having live animals in shows for one) but there’s still an old fashioned thrill in going to the circus and it’s one that I hope to share with my kids when Chaplin’s Circus comes to St Albans this Easter time.
Chaplin’s Circus is a bit different to many in that it was set up by a former millionaire lawyer who turned his back on the city (wise man) to pursue a dream. Gary Stocker collaborated with a friend and fellow street performer to set up Chaplin’s Circus, but he himself had been entertaining people with street performances on and off since he was 14 and performed in Covent Garden.
Last year Chaplin’s Circus toured around Southern England, but at Easter they’re setting up home in Highfield Park St Albans from 28th March to 6th April where not only will they be putting on their unique show, but also running free workshops.
The show itself is narrative driven, telling the story of a 1920s circus with only two hours left to repay its debts to the bank and avoid closure. Everything is riding on the success of just one performance and the Ringmaster has an exciting plan to bring in the crowds and reverse the circus’ fortunes. Things aren’t straightforward though as the circus’ creditors seem determined to make it fail.
A show in two halves, the first half of the performance sees the audience backstage at the circus, seeing a very different side to the traditional circus show. For the second half though the Big Top is rotated through 180 degrees for the more traditional style circus, as the finale of the overall story.
Gary himself features in the show as the “Great Herrmann” the human cannonball that is fired across the full length of the stage into a barrel of water. A sight worth seeing – even more so when you remember that this man is a former city lawyer!
Chaplin’s Circus also uses West End performers in their shows which in St Albans will include China Soul, singer and daughter of David of TV’s Starchy and Hutch fame.
On a local level I’m also delighted to hear that Chaplin’s Circus are going to be supporting Home Start St Albans, a charity that I know is close to the hearts of many local mums and families (and indeed one that we also chose to support at the local playgroup I run too) and this is in addition to running free circus skills workshops, teaching juggling, hula hooping, ribbon twirling, plate spinning, mime, diabolo, magic tricks, rope walking, balloon modelling, devil sticks, face painting and uni cycling. In other words loads for children of all ages. Places for these can be booked here. Also see the note on the bottom of their page for anyone wanting to book Scout or Guide places for children doing their circus skills activity badges.
Owner Gary Stocker says “This year our focus is on charities which help support young families and single mothers, in particular. We believe that as a business we should make a positive contribution to each community that we frequent and this is one of the ways we hope to realise that vision”. Something I passionately agree with.
So, if you’re looking for something to do with your family this Easter in St Albans then please head to Chaplin’s Circus, have fun as a family and also help support Home Start St Albans too.
Tickets are available online here and for the April dates there is also a Kids Go Free offer where if you use the promo code KIDSGOFREE then there is one free children’s ticket for each full price adult ticket. (Valid online only and on valid on all seating tiers).
Show dates and times are as follows:
- Sat 28th March 2015 1pm; 5pm
- Sun 29th March 2015 11am; 3pm
- Mon 30th March 2015 5:30pm
- Tues 31st March 2015 6pm
- Wed 1st April 2015 6:30pm
- Thurs 2nd April 2015 6:30pm
- Fri 3rd April 2015 3pm; 6pm
- Sat 4th April 2015 3pm; 6pm
- Sun 5th April 2015 2pm; 4:30pm
- Mon 6th April 2015 11am; 2:30pm
For more details please visit www.chaplinscircus.com
Disclaimer: I will be receiving tickets to one of the Highfield Park shows in exchange for this post and I’m really looking forward to going. All opinions are my own and totally believe Home Start to be a fantastic St Albans charity.