Nostalgic big-top show brings the golden age of the circus to Jeddah

Jeddawis are all agog as they get to enjoy the performances of Circus 1903 as part of the Jeddah Season festival. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 11 July 2019

Nostalgic big-top show brings the golden age of the circus to Jeddah

  • Circus 1903 recreates the experience of entering the big top during the golden age of circus

JEDDAH: Jeddawis were given the rare chance on Tuesday to travel back in time and experience the kind of circus thrills and excitement that audiences would have enjoyed in the early 20th century. It was all courtesy of the talented performers from Circus 1903, a touring show from the United States that is being staged for the first time in Saudi Arabia, in North Obhur, as part of the Jeddah Season festival.

“It’s wonderful that it’s very different from other circuses. We are trying to present a time period of the early 1900s and what it was like to see live circus back then,” said Chipper Lowell who appears as the ringmaster. “Everything — from the style and look of the stage, the costumes and the music — that just really makes you feel nostalgic for what an old-time, classic circus would be.”

Part of the show included a life-sized puppet elephant and her calf, called Peanut. Lowell explained that life-sized puppets were being used instead of real animals as they wanted to present a more theatrical version.

“Because it’s very hard to get the same emotion you felt with real animals than it would be to have choreographed movement of the little one, Peanut, learning how to do a trick and the mother watching,” said Lowell. “The only thing that would duplicate that would be if it was animation, like the ‘Lion King’ and things like that. We want to present a very theatrical version of the animals in the show and that would be the exact same every night.”




Jeddawis are all agog as they get to enjoy the performances of Circus 1903 as part of the Jeddah Season festival. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

The staging of Circus 1903 is another sign of the opening up and development of the entertainment industry in the Kingdom, which is increasingly attracting international shows and performers.

“We feel honored, because we know that this door is opening that will allow a lot of different shows like this to come in and find new audiences,” said Lowell. “It was amazing for us because it’s our first show today and to hear the audience, they really got into it and loved it and applauded and wowed at each trick. It’s going to be fun and I can’t wait to see what other shows will be coming in.

“I’m from California and this is my first time in Saudi Arabia. It’s changed how I think about the people a lot — everyone has been very nice and kind. It’s been a really nice eye-opening experience, and great to see where things are heading in the next couple of years.

NUMBER

30 or more performers are featured in each Circus 1903 show.

“Cinemas reopened recently, too. That’s incredible; I tried to see a movie and I couldn’t because the screening was sold out. It’s an exciting time, to be able to see all the different forms of cinema, live entertainment, interactive entertainment — this is far better than watching something on TV because you’re there in the moment, you can see it live, it’s happening and we get to experience all the appreciation and applause from the audience. It’s really fun.”

Audience members we spoke to after the show seemed to agree.

“It was amazing,” said Razan Al-Ghamdi. “My favorite part of the show was the beginning, when they appeared in costumes from that time period. It was a great atmosphere.”




Jeddawis are all agog as they get to enjoy the performances of Circus 1903 as part of the Jeddah Season festival. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

Circus star Balazs Foldvary, who performs using a Cyr wheel and a German wheel — types of hooped acrobatic apparatus that he balances inside while making them move with dance-like grace — said that his first performance in the Kingdom had been a wonderful experience.

“It was great,” he said. “The audience were great as well. I think it was a very good first show. Everybody was very polite and nice and provided us with everything we need.”

Aerial-pole performer Denis Degtyarev added: “It’s a big pleasure to be here. The audience was perfect today; we felt their positive reaction so much.”

Circus 1903 performances continue until July 18, at 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. each day.


Saudi health minister promises to procure tested COVID-19 vaccine

Saudi Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah. (AP)
Updated 20 October 2020

Saudi health minister promises to procure tested COVID-19 vaccine

JEDDAH: Saudi Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah on Monday said the Kingdom will procure vaccine for the novel coronavirus once it is confirmed to be safe and effective.

He said research on the vaccine is underway in a number of countries and the Saudi health authorities are following the developments.
The number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases continues to decline in the Kingdom with the recovery rate from the illness rising to 96 percent. The minister attributed the decline on the “commitment to health precautions.”
“I also thank my fellow health practitioners for their wonderful efforts,” Al-Rabiah said.
Commenting on the second and stronger wave of COVID-19 in some countries, he said it was due to a lack of “commitment to social distancing” and failure to wear masks and taking other precautions.
He ruled out any leniency on part of the government in its fight against the virus. The minister said it is necessary to abide by precautionary measures to keep the virus at bay.

FASTFACTS

• Saudi Arabia recorded 381 new infections on Monday.

• With 16 new fatalities, the virus-related death toll has risen to 5,201.

“We (all) are in one boat, and the failure of some affects everyone, so we must work together” to check the spread of the virus.
He also advised people who show COVID-19 symptoms to visit Tetamman (rest assured) clinics.
“Appointments can be made through the ministry’s Sehaty app, and anyone who has any questions or wants to consult a doctor can call 937,” the minister said.
Saudi Arabia recorded 381 new infections on Monday. The total number of COVID-19 cases has reached 348,583 since the beginning of the outbreak in the Kingdom.
The Health Ministry said 16 more people died due to complications caused by the virus raising the death toll to 5,201. The ministry also reported 357 new recoveries. The total number of recovered cases has now increased to 328,895.