Tent of Terror
Nikolai the Magnificent
Rings of Fire
It is early 19th century Russia — a small band of misfits travels the countryside entertaining Czars and Czarinas in their royal palaces. As they continually dazzle their audiences with feats of splendor and amazing acrobatic routines, the performers become known through all of Russia. With their reputation spreading so swiftly, it becomes time to expand the exhibition and head for the countryside to perform for the masses.
Vast audiences of farmers, craftsmen, merchants, women, and children look forward to the circus, which lifts them out of the dreariness of their everyday lives. Each village takes part in the production by creating their own unique structure to provide for the all of the performers and animals. With such an elaborate array of animals, wires, nets, poles and fire, accidents are bound to happen. This is where my tale begins.
A Little Russian Circus is set in four movements, each portraying a part of the performance. “Tent of Terror” begins with a blast of trombones setting the stage as the lions, tigers, and bears (Oh My!) charge into the tent. The audience gasps and grips the edge of their seats, unsure if they should flee the apparent stampede. Soon to follow are elephants, rhinos, and, of course, what circus would be complete without clowns. The audience’s terror soon turns to amazement as they are shown a display the likes of which they have never seen.
“Nikolai – the Flying Bear” is considered to be the finest act in the circus. Of course, the bear doesn’t really fly; he merely swings from trapeze to trapeze. If the audience could see a little better, they might notice that the bear is not a bear, rather “Nikolai” is actually two dwarfs stuffed into a bear costume! Fortunately, the ruse is complete and the audience is never the wiser. As “Nikolai” prepares for his triple leap, the crowd grits their teeth in anticipation.
Sitting center stage, a small, lonely clown plays an accordion no bigger than eight inches. Covered in a soft bluish light, “The Clown” plays a beautiful soaring melody, only to be interrupted by a bizarre cast of characters in all shapes, sizes, and colors. These strange clowns dance and tumble all about, riding unicycles, bicycles, tricycles, and all types of wildly painted wagons as their offbeat music plays. As these quirky clowns finally exit, the music fades and our small clown is left alone and sighs to himself.
“Rings of Fire” begins with an eruption of sound representing exploding balls of fire and light as massive rings placed all over the arena are set ablaze. As the lions and tigers reappear and begin to leap through the rings, the audience cheers madly. The tension builds to an extreme as one of the lions collides with a ring and knocks it over. The rest of the rings begin to topple like dominoes and set off a chain reaction as the fire spreads from pole to pole and starts to climb the walls of the tent. The room quickly becomes an inferno and the audience, performers and animals flee the impending disaster!