Oct 29, 2023: Tbilisi Circus Experience

Mziuri Park – Tbilisi, Georgia – 5pm

5pm: Tbilisi Circus

Sunday funday. After getting some work done and talking with family in the early afternoon, I headed out to Heroes Square to watch Tbilisi Circus. There isn’t much advertised about Tbilisi Circus that I could find online, much as I tried. Apparently, it was started in the late 1800s and was very popular up until it closed at the end of the 1900s because of civil conflict. A Georgian billionaire bought it in 2007 with the intention of renovating it and giving it a new lease on life, but then tragically died during the 2008 political conflict. So, Tbilisi Circus sat closed down for a few more years until finally being restarted by the tycoon’s sister in 2013, and it’s been a major hit ever since. It only plays in October each year, I believe. I wanted to learn more about the performers but there’s no information about that online. I think they hire a lot of international performers, or perhaps it’s made up of Georgian performers who trained overseas, because as far as I can tell, there is no circus school in Georgia. I’ve searched online and on Instagram (the businesses here tend to advertise on Instagram and Facebook mostly, it seems) and could only find a circus program for kids and adolescents, not adults. It’s a bit strange to me that that large rotunda building just sits empty for the rest of the year then, since Tbilisi circus only runs in October. It would be very cool if they used that venue as a circus academy! I’d definitely attend.

I was definitely very excited to watch this show. It only cost 15 gel (around 18 gel after transaction fees), which is really a steal for how many amazing acts they put on. It was dazzling performance after performance, with some pause for comedic clownery. There was a pairs roller skating act where the woman spun from a rope around the man’s neck. So impressive. There was a steel trapeze act where the man balanced on his head while the trapeze swung above the stage. Awe-inspiring. There was some tumbling, high flying and silks, as well as tightrope walking. The fact that the show lasted for two and a half hours, including a twenty-minute intermission, and only cost 15 gel was incredible. I love that the circus remains pretty accessible so that even those on low budgets can come out to watch the incredible acts. It also makes it family friendly so that large families can come watch it together. I think the front row seats were more expensive.

I liked that this show was like a traditional circus show, with slapstick comedy and clowns and people in crazy costumes. It was reminiscent of The Greatest Showman in some ways. However, there were some things that I think should have stayed in the past and should not have been done. The show was behind in the times in including a chimpanzee act. I felt really bad for the monkey because it looked kind of thin and malnourished (although I was sitting way at the back) and didn’t look very happy. It was clearly very well trained because it knew the whole routine front to back and could do crazy flips and balancing acts. I’d never seen a chimpanzee act like that before so it was really novel and jaw-dropping, but I felt really bad for the animal too because I really don’t know how they treat these animals behind the scenes. Do they just keep them locked up in cages when they are not training? What do they even feed them? Thinking of how orcas shouldn’t be kept in aquariums, I think similarly animals in general shouldn’t be used in shows and performances. There were horse acts as well, with performers carrying out stunts while riding the horse at full speed around the ring, but there may be more acceptance about that because horses have already been domesticated. I hope these horses aren’t maltreated either though. I really disliked that they still used these loud whips to command the horse to stop. I never saw them hit the horses with the whip except one time, but it was discouraging nonetheless.

There was a very wild part of the show, the last act of the first half, when the ringmaster allowed random people from the audience to ride the horse around the ring and try to stand on its back. They put a harness around the people attempting the stunt without experience. Some of the people were so desperate that they even tried to clamber onto the horse while it was already running fast. I don’t know why they didn’t wait for the professionals to slow the horse down first. But, some of them looked like they were about to be trampled by the horses’ hind legs. One of the guys managed to hide the horse backwards, which was pretty cool even if it was by accident, but he ripped his pants right down the middle at the back. It was so comedic how the guy dashed out of the ring as soon as the ringmaster informed him what happened (I guess he didn’t notice it while riding the horse) but got sent flying backwards by the harness. Poor guy. I think he was properly mortified. Then, there was an older man that was allowed to try, and he was crazy. He tried to mount the horse while it was running, never giving up even when it looked like he was going to be trampled by the horse. After his second attempt, somehow his pants fell completely off. It was like straight out of a movie how the ringmaster and the older man’s granddaughter (or daughter? She looked like a young adult) pounced on him. Supposedly they were trying to help him, but they all just tumbled to the ground and it looked like they were trying to hold him down… It turned into a weird brawl. Then, undeterred, the older man leapt up to try and clamber on the horse a third time! The granddaughter marched up to him and began hitting him with her handbag. Even from the back of the hall, I could see how livid she was. She kept punching him with her handbag, and even rounded on the ringmaster to land a few punches on him too, before forcing the older man off the stage. I suppose she was angry that the older man had so recklessly endangered himself for a stupid stunt, and also angry at the ringmaster for allowing the man to even try, putting him in the line of fire. Was wild to watch that whole domestic violence scene unfold from the stands.

Overall, it was a crazy show with a lot of high-class acts. There were a few stumbles and mistakes but the performers carried out with true professionalism. Unfortunately, I don’t think I will watch them again though, not until they remove the chimpanzee act.

8pm: English Stand-up Comedy Night (Halloween Edition)

The show ended at 7:30pm. After, I went to World’s End Bar to catch the stand-up comedy show at 8pm. I only went because it was advertised as a Halloween edition, so I was really hoping the comedians would come up with new material focused on spooky themes… Unfortunately, while there was new material being delivered, the only Halloween jokes were made at the beginning of the show by the host, and fleetingly by one Australian comedian who was dressed up as Waldo from Where’s Waldo?

I’d been telling myself that I should try performing my first stand-up gig for the Halloween edition. I’d written a few Halloween-themed, spooky jokes, some darker materials. In the end, while I actually felt like maybe I did have the guts to go up on stage once I got there and was in that atmosphere, I hadn’t prepared enough for my set. I want the first time I go up to be a true effort. I want to have my jokes scripted and prepared, not just the words said but how I deliver the jokes down to my mannerisms and facial expressions. I want to really act out the jokes, not just say them. So, I definitely need to put more time and effort into memorizing the jokes and thinking about how my actions can reinforce the humour. My last chance is the next show on November 12, or else I probably won’t get to try again until next summer. Right now, I think I’ll come back to Georgia for six months again in 2024, but who knows. My plans are always changing, even right up till the last minute.

Wrapped up the night with a serene walk under the tree-lined avenues and a full moon, and getting Basil chicken again at Tom Yum. Yum!



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