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As a young boy, Silvers Circus Ringmaster and Illusionist, Simon Tait, remembers the magic of the circus and how it made him feel. He was especially enamored with the clowns! I too remember my excitement at going to the circus for the first time as I was obsessed with the Enid Blyton Circus Series and was convinced I was going to run away with the circus. As it turned out, I didn’t run away with the circus, I didn’t even ask them if I could – although I was called up from the audience to participate in the show!
The same cannot be said for Simon – he lives his dream every day. At 21, Simon was fresh out of acting school when a circus came to his hometown of Rockhampton, QLD. He remembered how much he loved the circus as a child and decided to take his then girlfriend to the show. “I was so excited to go the circus again, but then when I got there it was so muddy I almost didn’t go in. I was wearing new shoes and I didn’t want to wreck them! My girlfriend persuaded me to go and I saw the most fantastic American mime!” Simon approached the clown after the show and explained that he had just finished school and I wanted to become his apprentice. “He said that he couldn’t decide that and I had to go and see the manager of the circus. I did, he put me on and I haven’t looked back”.
Simon remembers the early days where he would go into town on a Sunday with a bag full of 20 cent pieces to use the pay phone to ring his mum. He says “there has been great change for both performers and circuses as a profession. Technology has eased that feeling of separation from family as everyone now has mobile phones and Skype.” This instant access, says Simon, has made a big difference to life on the road. Another big difference is caravan design. “Some of the caravans at Silvers are mini apartments! They have taken being comfortable to a new level. They have walls that slide out and spas. They are exotic.”
Now, many of the performers have family that travel with them. In fact, at the moment Silvers Circus is home to a few toddlers and infants. “It really is like a big extended family situation”, says Simon. “If you are working there is always someone to watch over your children. They get to see and do so much, get so much life experience. Apart from the fact that when they get to an age they can start performing and begin to make a wage.”
Simon’s own children grew up in the circus and were home-schooled. He says “If you are travelling with children, and if you want to go on a 12 month tour around Australia, you can do Distance Education with your kids. It is actually very, very effective. My children did Distance Education and when they went to normal school they were streets ahead of the other kids. I think it’s because you have a one-on-one situation with the kids. It doesn’t take a lot of time, especially with younger children, you only have to put in a few hours into school work for the same results because you don’t have 30 kids in the class.”
Having travelled so extensively with his family, I asked Simon if he had any holiday destination tips:
“Definitely the Northern Territory is something completely different to what we know here in Victoria and it’s such a beautiful, amazing place. Litchfield National Park in the Northern Territory is just heaven on earth. It’s beautiful.”
“Western Australia too, all the way down. Western Australia is just gorgeous. Perth is a beautiful to visit. The South West corner down near Margaret River has amazing forests with surfing, wineries and cheese.”
“There is a little beach called Twilight Cove, a little way out of Albany, WA. It’s the most picturesque beach I have seen. The water is so clear. It’s amazing.”
“Of course, the Islands off the coast of Queensland are fabulous too. Great Keppel Island, Magnetic Island and Green Island. They are all places you have to try and make your way up to.”
Even after 34 years with the circus, it is clear Simon loves the whole process.” It is amazing to watch the tent go up. It goes up like a machine. People are running around like ants and in 24 hours, the tent is up, the staging is set, the seating is in and the lighting and sound is in place. It’s amazing.”
“Technology has played a big part in how modern circuses are run”, says Simon. The tents, explains Simon, are designed so that the roof doesn’t lift off anymore when there is wind. The wind goes around the walls. “I’ve seen roofs come off buildings and the circus tent is still standing!”
Gone are the days where animals (except for three fan-tail doves) are part of the Silvers Circus acts. The focus is on the performers and with artists from all over the world Silvers are proud to present a wide range of acts in their shows.
Even a seasoned performer such as Simon still feels pre-performance nerves, although he likes to turn those nerves into excitement. “I love that I am able to take the audience’s hand and together we can run away with the circus!”
Simon believes that “the fantastic thing about Silvers Circus is that it is ‘the ultimate family experience’. It is perfect for everyone from 2 to 97. The teenagers are coming in in droves thanks to acts such as the Wheel of Steel and the Globe of Death (where three motorbikes travel at 60 km per hour inside a three and a half metre steel globe). “They miss each other by millimeters – I don’t know how they do it. I hold my breath every night.”
Indeed, these acts are amazing and Simon, himself, is a very impressive Illusionist!
My favourite part of the circus was when the doves turned into a girl!
But he’s not giving away any tricks of the trade. I caught up with Simon after the show and told him that I am always amazed by magic and it drives me crazy trying to figure out how it is done. “I’m not going to tell you either”, he said. To which I replied “I know, I know! If you tell me, you’d have to kill me”. Simon laughed and said “Yes, something like that!”
In truth, I don’t want to know. I never want to the circus to lose it’s magic. A magic that I feel as much today as I did when I was a little girl standing in under the big top.
At the entrance to the big top there are carnival games, a bouncing castle and concessions stand. After the show, you can meet one of the Globe of Death riders and have your photo taken. By far the best value show bag going around is the Silvers Circus show bag for $7! It will give your kids hours of entertainment!
Do You Want To Run Away With The Circus?
Silvers Circus are looking for a semi-retired couple with a caravan to join their team! You would travel ahead of the circus liaising with local Councils, putting up posters and preparing for the circus’ arrival. If this is something that you are interested in please contact Margaret on the numbers below.
Bookings: www.ticketmaster.com.au or 0413 880 044 or 0400 456 157
*Kidding Around Australia were guests of Silvers Circus, however, our opinions are genuine.
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