The circus is a particularly small world. Today I went to a show (more on that later). Before even showing up I already knew one of the performers, the person selling T-shirts, and the follow-spot operator as well as several of the audience members. I also knew one of the teachers for the newest performer there as well as the person who had gotten that teacher to America in the first place as well as someone else who had trained under him. Now, mind you, this was a company that I had never seen perform before. In fact, I had never even seen any of these people on a stage.
There are many communities that are smaller and more confined than the circus. Circus transcends oceans and exists in some form or another in almost every country in the world. There is no single circus pope, nor is there any overarching organization. Many have tried, and while some may have succeeded to an extent on a national level, no one has succeeded in making circus a unipolar world. While there are definitely certain groups with more pull than others, there is no single one with all of the strings in their hand.
Despite this, we all still seem to no each other. I cannot remember the last time I added a circus person on Facebook with whom I did not share at least one mutual friend. I’ve been at this game for a few years now and have traveled across the country and this still holds true. At this point I have circus connection from Mexico to Ethiopia (and even those two know each other).
I ended up taking the subway back with someone I had just met and we talked the entire time about jugglers we each knew and the crazy things they had done. This between two people who had never met face to face at any point previously.
One of the upsides to having such a small community is that everyone behaves, because word will sure travel fast if they don’t. I have a friend who had to move from one coast to the other after he messed up. Now, several years later, he is just starting to get back to where he was.
It definitely keeps you on your toes. However, in a world with no governing body, it is good to see that there are still mechanisms for enforcement. If a venue underpays performers or a director puts them in danger, within the week the whole world will know.