July 30, 2012

Looking for a job?

There's always room for stagehands with "The Greatest Show on Earth" - who could pass that up?

That's what I learned, among other things, when I embedded with Ringling's Fully Charged Tour for a weekend. Hung out backstage with the elephants, clowns, jugglers, and my dear friend who is managing this bunch right now.

So, they never have enough stagehands (in a cast and crew of 300 people!) and if by chance, you know, just saying, you ever wanted to run away with the circus ... there's always a job for you.

To be frank, I'm sure one has to start at the bottom of the stagehand ladder, which means picking up a shovel. Entry level means shoveling up poop, and all kinds - ponies, tigers, elephants, and hopefully very little from the clowns.

Oh, Miss Ice Charades, that was gross.

Yes, that was just a joke. The clowns that I met, a mix of Americans, Russians, a few Canadians and random other nationalities were all very sweet.

And, they promise they won't throw you off the train! Really, they were all the nicest bunch of folks.

Some other things I learned ....

*Don't stand between two elephants to get your picture taken while wearing a dress. Those elephant trunks can get frisky!

*Learn to kill time on the train as you travel from one city to the next at a top speed of 25 MPH. Yes, the next time you go on a road trip, stay at 25 MPH for five or ten seconds and feel their pain. It takes days to get anywhere.

*Most of that 300+ cast and crew (and the animals) travel by train. They have there own compartments - that make cruise ship rooms look spacious - 7 feet by 17 feet is one of the "family" sized compartments.

*The circus still is about family. The Fully Charged tour had its own school and nursery for the offspring of performers and crew. I didn't ask about the curriculum, but I bet juggling is in there somewhere.

*This was truly an international cast, here's a rundown: dancers are from Brazil (they're cheaper that way), the animal trainer - Chile, juggling groups from Russia, Czech Republic, Argentina, highwire act - Morocco, acrobatic acts - Mexico, China, Russia, aerial acts - Russia, Uzbekistan, Argentina, clowns - lots of Americans, but other nationalities too.

That's just a sampling ... I bet the backstage gets pretty lively during World Cup matches (or now during the Summer Olympics).

Stay tuned for the next post with more about the show!

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