Sunday, January 6, 2013

Ask The Experts: George Peck

--> “Pa and I put in a good deal of time during the afternoon and evening performances in the dressing-room, near the door leading to the main tent. That is the nearest to being in an insane asylum of any place I was ever in. The performers get ready for their several acts in bunches or families, all in one spot, and they act serious and jaw each other, and each bunch acts as though their act was all there was to the show, and if it was cut out for any reason, the show would have to lay up for the season, when in fact each one is only a cog in the great wheel, and if one cog should slip, the wheel would turn just the same. These people never smile before they go in the ring, but just act as though too much depended on them to crack a smile. When a bunch is called to go in the ring, they all look at each other as though it was the parting of the ways, and they clasp hands and go out of the dressing-room as though walking on eggs. When they get in the ring they look around to see if all eyes are upon them, and bow to people who are looking at something going on in another ring, and who don’t see them, and then they go through their performance with everybody looking somewhere else.

When the act is over the audience seems glad, and clap their hands because they are polite, and it don’t cost anything to clap hands, and the performers turn some more flip flaps, and go running out to the dressing-room, and take a peek back into the big tent as though expecting an encore, but the audience has forgotten them and is looking for the next mess of performers, and the ones who have just been in go and lie down on straw and wonder if they can hit the treasurer for an advance on their salaries, so they can go to a beer garden and forget it all.

An average audience never gets its money’s worth unless some one is hurt doing some daring act.”

- George W. Peck, Peck’s Bad Boy With The Circus (1905)

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