Last summer, our editor Liz gushed about the wonders of Circus Smirkus, the amazing single-ring circus whose performers are all kids. And for those of us in the New England or upstate New York areas, every summer brings us another chance to catch this innovative circus, now approaching its 25th year.
But for those of you in other parts of the globe, and for those of us who adore these young performers and want to see more, more, more, there is a way to bring the circus right into your home.
The new documentary Circus Dreams, A Movie Journey from Mud to Magic, is a behind-the-scenes look at how Circus Smirkus goes from concept to reality every year. Filmed by documentary filmmaker Signe Taylor, the focus is on the people of the circus, from the kids who end up on stage, to the adults who struggle mightily with meager budgets to insure that the show must go on.
Beginning with auditions for that summer’s show, I realized just how much is at stake for these kids. The tension and the longing is almost
palatable as you watch them wait for the call that could change the course of their summer and possibly their lives.
Equally intense is the realization that each year could be the last for a circus that relies so heavily on ticket sales to keep it from closing.
There is much to love during this 82-minute documentary, but perhaps the characters that caught our hearts the most were two girls trying to break into the male-dominated world of clowns. Goofy and lovable, but also strong and passionate, it is so interesting to watch how they fit into the all-boy cast of clowns.
Circus Dreams features several clips from the circus itself, but the documentary is more about the people who bring this circus to life. There is nothing “too grown up” in the content, though I think kids under the age of seven or so may not quite follow the story line. But for tweens and beyond, it’s a wonderful look at how far a dream–and hard work–can take you. . . even if you never have aspirations to walk the high wire. -Christina
Circus Dreams is currently scheduled to air on local PBS stations in April. Check here to see if your local affiliate has signed on or email them to request they air it. You can also purchase copies of Circus Dreams direct from their website.