Vivid blue placards sprouted on lampposts in the place Dom DeVic and at the entrances to the Soreze and Revel a week ago. Clown faces beamed down on us warming the spring air.
The Gipsy Prin circus rolled into town in six big red trucks Thursday night and set up camp at the Place de Stade (soccer field). They pastured their animaux exotiques at the sloping edge of the field -- a pygmy billy goat and his dainty dames, three Shetland ponies, a water buffalo, a flock of chickens and roosters, a black angus bull, a llama, an American bison, a donkey, a shaggy miniature highland bull, a spotted pony, a longhorn bull.
As I was leaving Rue Ferlus to visit D in Rue Balette with two pieces of tarte aux pommes to share with coffee, I heard a ruckus around the corner on the Allées de la Libération. I thought maybe they were broadcasting a soccer game at the Brasserie, which had already placed some tables under the plane trees so their patrons could profiter du beau temps (enjoy the good weather). As the hoopla followed me up the street, bouncing off half-timbered houses behind me, I realized that the hubbub was coming from a panel truck with a PA system weaving through the streets, calling people to come to the circus this evening at the football field, Mesdames et Messieurs! Venir au spectacle de cirque, ce soir, au terrain de foot!
D and I checked the schedule for the ciné Get in Revel and the version originale du film (in English with French subtitles) was not starting until Sunday night. Why not walk over to the circus at 1730? And so we did, promptly at 5:25 pm. Les jeunes femmes du cirque (young women of the circus), their waist length hair tied up in pony tails, were darting between the trucks, opening storage compartments, pulling out silver boots and spangly costumes. They threw startled pony looks at D, me and a father with two small girls. !Quel genre de personnes sont ceux qui viennent tôt? (What kind of people are these who come on time?!) We wandered around the perimeter of the field watching the animals graze until the box office opened.
There were only twenty people in the bleachers for the show when it started. Some of the acts introduced by the pert ringmistress were: performing pony and miniature pony, strong man, clown/strong man, tightrope walker, wobbly ball balancer, two lady unicycle riders,a billy goat tower, a baby clown with strong man (big Cute factor!).
The last act was three pythons, 6-8 feet, that les femmes du cirque wound around their shoulders like exotic boa's and brought into the audience to allow us to touch their warm, thin leather skin.
It looked as though the oldest member of le cirque might be 34 years old and in some ways the Gipsy Prin Circus was reminiscent of a kid circus, that is, a circus that kids might put on. The level of performance of this smalltop troupe might be laughed out of even the smallest towns in the US. We have different standards for entertainment here in Soreze. It’s more about: Can we walk to it? Is it in one of the surrounding towns? Is it an excuse to get together with friends? Will it support an artist we know or even one we don’t? Everyone in the audience left with a chuckle in their mouth. Les artistes de cirque were waiting outside the tent to bid us each adieu. La petite dame de chèvres were glad of our parting rubs between their nubby horns. As we walked back to Rue Ballette, Venus lumineux brillait dans le ciel bleu pastel au-dessus du nouveau sourire de la lune. (Venus shone bright in the pastel blue sky above the new smile of the moon.)