Crawley Circus Festival 2006

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The Hawth, Crawley

11-Aug-2006 to 13-Aug-2006

It was another fantastic festival. It is a shame that this year will be most remembered by the attendee's as the one where some people were arrested. Just to make sure things are clear & get the negative stuff out of the way first, here's a brief rundown of what happened. A few days before the festival a group of squatters had set up camp in the woods behind the theatre. The theatre staff had tried unsuccessfully to get them evicted from the start. On the Saturday night some of the squatters came on site & at least one got extremely drunk & started hassling people (including us while we were passing before he was physically carried off by one of his friends back to their encampment). One of the squatters later came across one of the Southend jugglers & took a bite out of their cheek. This was reported & the police then decided they had grounds to evict the squatters. Four cars sped on to site with lights flashing, the police jumped out & ran into the forest. A number of arrests were made & the squatters were moved on in the morning. All very exciting.


It was another good turnout from TWJC including Dave K, Andrew, Simon, John, Bob, Anna, Beth, Karina (her first festival yay!), Jenny, Nicky & Myself (but no Kevin). The site was supposed to open at 6pm so Nicky & I were first to arrive at 5pm thinking that would be early enough to find a good spot but apparently not, all the large grassy areas were already full up. We met up with Dave Law before he got too busy & suggested building an Ewok style village in the trees to accomodate the ever increasing attendance figures. We took over a large part of the periphery instead. True to form Andrew turned up in a tuxedo (well almost) & drew a few puzzled looks while he battled to erect his tent. Mr K. showed off his lovely new car which has a very funky glass roof.

Once we had all put up our tents as well as our sobriety allowed we started drinking in earnest which naturally meant the traditional Chilli Vodka as well as a fantastically potent cider from Middle Farm. With the help of menus from the ever so organised Lynne we set up our pizza party. As ever I ordered the biggest available (I like to save a slice or two for breakfast the next morning) & no one thought I could eat more than half. However, I am not one who is easily beaten by a meal, & I put on quite a show.

After that most of us took up a corner of the marquee where Andrew & Dave maimed each other with their club passing & I tried to improve my handstands without throwing up. The last thing I remember was waking up in the marquee to find most people had gone to bed.

The next day saw lots more juggling in the marquee. We also spent a lot of time making & drinking tea. Simon came up with a really nice three ring multiplex bounce into a four ring fountain which was pretty neat.

Later on almost all of us went along to the club takeout workshop which has become a regular fixture at Crawley & also one of the highlights for me. Dave & I laughed, giggled & generally made quite a disturbance. We knew most of the tricks from previous years but it was great to get a refresher course & we came up with a few new ideas which we will hopefully bring to the festival next year.

Also sometime on Saturday we were enjoying a drink at the bar when I heard the sound of what could only be Speed Stacking. Videos of kids building & collapsing pyramids of cups in lightning quick times have been around for a while but this was the first time I got to have a go. The special stacking cups, the stack mat & the two hand operated timing device all seem a bit daft/geeky but they certainly made a big difference. The idea of stacking as a 'sport' still seems odd to me, but as a game it sure is entertaining. It certainly is a lot tougher than it looks too, collapsing is pretty easy & really satisfying but building the stacks is really hard to do quickly.

The Show

First on stage was Rowena Deletant performing on the Chinese Pole. Great character, great movement & an excellent high energy opening to the show. Zack Turner won a place in the show after a very promising performance in the BYJOTY competition at BJC 2006 & I was looking forward to seeing a more polished stint. He certainly didn't disappoint, putting in a much more consistant routine with up to 3 diabolos. His technical skills are undoubtedly world class already but he still seems a little naive on stage. Make him perform & perform & perform! This guy will be a legend.

Nicky (a relative newbie to the juggling world) had commented earlier in the day that there weren't many top level female jugglers around. Frederike Gerstner supplied a great comeback combining dance with club swinging & juggling. Very elegant & smooth. Returning again for a second year the Horsham Gymnastics Club put on a top display of tumbling & acrobalance. I still need to get my handstand solid.

Enthusiastically embracing the wild west theme were Pete Gamble and Russell Wells with a great comic whipcracking act, not sure how much of the comedy was intentional as the performers seemed to be as amused as we were. It was all great fun. Circomedia stars Steve and Emily performed their acrobatic disco act which I have now seen three times, obviously not as fresh as the first time I saw it but still entertaining all the same.

One of the best acts of the show were Katarina & Johan on the aerial cradle. Katarina played a porter carrying the luggage for Johan fabulously dressed as a transvestite with truely enormous platform shoes. Up in the air they performed a huge array of aerial acrobatics with flair. Excellent use of Britney Spears at the end too! The person who I was looking forward to seeing most was Maksim Komaro of Peapot fame. Lots of complex & mindbending tricks with buckets & balls punctuated with amusing shouts of annoyance everytime anything went slightly wrong. Cool green shoes too. Closing the show was Luke Wilson who I recently saw in Ireland where he suffered a dip in form. This time round though he put in his best performance I have ever seen. It was really great to see just how sensational he can be.

Many people were miffed at Miguel & Marcella who most people assumed were the comperes simply because they were onstage in between each act. They didn't introduce any of the acts or do any talking for the most part, instead they performed a number of skits as comic interludes. I don't think they were ever intended to be comperes. They did a very good tennis bag skit, but other than that they were pretty unfunny mostly because they really flogged a tennis with plastic cups routine to death.


Regular Crawley host Richard took control of Renegade again, but sadly he either left out his impression of the Rangdo from The Adventure Game or I missed it. A group of girls ripped into Miguel & Marcella from the Public Show & showed that if you are going to use phallic props you might as well make the most of them. Boo & hiss to juggling ferrets. I know they didn't actually throw them but still, not cool. A guy had his chest waxed leaving lots of red looking bald spots over his torso. Bungle presented the etymology & usage of the word 'fuck'. Tim juggled while wearing a full Indian face mask(?!). After all the acts had dried up it was time to tempt Richard with some chilli vodka. We had two varieties this year, the strong stuff & the 'mild' stuff, but Richard wasn't having any of it. In the end Andrew downed both shots one from each hand one after the other. He's my hero.

After the renegade had finished we refuelled & did some more juggling. Outside the marquee a table was set up for beer pong. The rules of this game were in dispute but the variation being played saw two sets of six pint glasses arranged in triangles at either end of the table each containing about a quarter of a pint of er... mixed beverages. Two players stand at each end of the table & take turns to bounce a ping pong ball down the table towards the oponent's end. If the ball lands in a glass the opponent has to drink the contents & discard the glass. The loser is the one who runs out of glasses first, then they have to finish off their opponents remaining glasses. There were other rules as well but they seemed to be arbitrarily enforced/ignored. As you can imagine it was quite a brutal game.

While the rest of our group packed it in for the night Simon, Andrew, Dave & I carried on trying to do some passing. Danny & Richard joined us a bit later for some bigger, if not better, patterns. Later still we were joined by some unicyclists who found Dave's attempts at breakdancing very amusing.