Crawley Circus Festival 2014

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The Hawth, Crawley

8-Aug-2014 to 10-Aug-2014

Right, what can I remember...


I arrived on site at around 19:30ish to find Kevin, Simon, Yumi, Paul, Louisa (not Laura), Cat & Karina already set up, Jenny & Matt joined us shortly afterwards. I quickly pitched my tent, had I been more bothered I would have spent more time clearing the hazelnuts from the ground which proved to be very painful when knelt on over the course of the weekend.

I said that it would take 40 minutes to place our order for pizza so I was very surprised when Simon stopped the clock at under 15 minutes, however we did have to restart the clock again when the first pizza place wouldn't pick up the phone, in the end I wasn't far off with my estimate. Come on people we can do better than this!

It was a very wet evening so we all bundled together in the gazebo where we drank the night away, many of us enjoying Paul's homebrew. Cat, Karina, Matt & I spent much of the evening playing Gloom, a card game where the objective is to make your family members as miserable as possible before killing them off while trying to make your opponents' families happier. This is definitely a game for people with a morbid sense of humour. I particularly enjoyed the alliterative story telling required to explain the actions of the cards being played. I was particularly proud of one of my family members breaking through a balcony, bouncing off the boardwalk on Broadway & breaking her bones.


My eyes lit up as Kevin pulled out a large black cannon ball from the back of his car. He then threw it at me & I managed to catch it in a panic, only to find it was an inflatable rubber ball. Bastard.

Several kids were enjoying accidentally riding various wheeled contraptions into the large puddles around site. A number of the dogs being walked through the woods were enjoying a paddle too.

We announced the availability of Cinquevalli's cannon ball for perusal on the workshop board ("TWJC present a lump of metal") & had half a dozen or so juggling history spods join us to have a play with it. We looked at old photos, talked about early photography & discussed manufacturing techniques which was all very interesting. All the while we kept passing the ball back & forth, clearly everyone wanted to try a neck catch but no one did. Well one of us had to do it.

Various teams from Southend Juggling Club were working their way through a scavenger hunt. The night before I'd heard a rumour that one of the tasks on the list was to kidnap someone so I was very hesitant to get near any of them. However, it turned out that they were showing interest in me because one of the items on the list was, "a zen wrestling match with Jon Relf". I managed to win 2 out of 3 matches.

In the afternoon it was off to the obligatory stealing workshop with Steve & Amie, plus added assistance from Lucas. Not sure we learned much, but that's not why we go. I did employ some of my new salsa dancing skills to come up with a move where I stole a club by the body high up in the pattern continuing the motion into a spin & dropping the club back into the pattern backwards over my head which felt nice.

The Show

Our compère for the evening was Ian Marchant who was smart & efficient plus brought out some very nice balancing & combination tricks in between acts such as balancing a tennis racket on the face while spinning a ring around one foot, while spinning a ball in one hand & juggling two balls in the other. Ian completely upstaged the finale with a balance involving two cues & a billiard ball on the chin while spinning a ring around the foot & two rings around each arm. Top stuff.

Frederike Gerstner & Ben Nicholson each presented a toss juggling & manipulation act, Fred with clubs, Ben with clubs & balls. Both included lots of very nice moves but also had a few too many drops & fumbles.

Graeme & Naomi were great on the trapeze. They were very dynamic with lots of fantastic moves smoothly executed but there was no finish, the music faded & the curtain came down which was a bit odd.

Silvia Pavone performed an ace hoop act. Great costume, very good isolations & solidly performed combination moves. Acrobaffinity performed an excellent Indian themed duo acrobalance routine including a few moves I hadn't seen before. Very enjoyable.

Pete & Russell performed various whip cracking stunts with progressively longer whips much the same as they did at the BJC, but this time with viking themed costumes.

Yam Doyev presented a very impressive, high strength strap act, but also had no real finish.

Closing the show were Pete & Russell again this time with knife throwing, finishing with Russell against the board with pigtails pinned up so Russell could cut them off with his angel throwing axes. Nice but a bit of a let down after Ian's finishing trick.

The star of the show was Florian Brooks who was impeccably dressed & moved with style & grace throughout. His first act was a hat & cane routine that was slick & polished. I find a lot of hat & cane routines are tricks with a hat plus tricks with a cane, but Florian combined both props very well with many tricks involving catching the hat on the cane in interesting ways. His second act was a club juggling routine with the same immaculate presentation. The juggling was flawless, not a single drop or even fumble that I could see. His finishing trick was a spectacular 5 club helicopter cascade.


I missed the start of Renegade because I took the opportunity to have a shower. When I joined the audience I found it was being dominated by SJC. Bungle celebrated his 30th birthday by revisiting 10 years worth of Crawley renegade acts which was a tour de force of nostalgia. It included the much loved fire breathing rubber chicken, the Roxanne drinking game, the human BB gun target & my personal favourite: the obscenely suggestive carrot peeling contest.


It was another stormy night & sadly the Crawley marquee lifted & went through the side of Paul's tent in the night. I was fortunate though & just managed to get my tent dry & packed away during one of the sunny spells. Win!


Rain forced the games indoors this year. We made the mistake of setting up camp a bit too far back in the tiered seating, walking up & down the stairs in between games was quite tiring! There was a lot of frowning at various games this year. Everyone was using their knees to get under the pole during the 3 ball limbo & the winner of the slowest unicycle race was just riding side to side rather than riding in a straight line slowly.

I thought the stage would be a useful tool for the numbers game in that I could drop superfluous kids off the side of it when they weren't needed unfortunately I didn't get far enough to be able to make use of this tactic.

I dropped very early on in the five ball endurance for no good reason. I wisely gave hopping gladiators a miss this year owing to a dodgy knee, but very much enjoyed Jack's full on opening charge. I was taken out by a wild Glyn after I cornered him at the edge of the stage during three club gladiators. Simon later avenged me though in the game that took place outside later on though.

As ever, many thanks to Carolyn Murphy & Dave Law.