Day 40: Circus of the Shy

Circus of the Shy
Matt Zurbo



Hi, Kid! Yes, you. Don’t be afraid.
(Kid walking left to right, melting ice-cream in hand, startled face looking at reader)

Are you awkward, nervous? Does the limelight make you scared?
(Ringleader whispering from behind letter box)

It does? You do? No problem! You’ll fit right in!
(Card passing from Ringleader’s hand to kid’s, small type: Circus of the Shy.)

Ssh! You’ll find us sneaking into your town when no-one is looking.
(Train in night, every window has the very edge of circus characters and animals with a finger to their shh-ing lips.)

We set up where we won’t cause a fuss.
(On weedy lot behind the industrial estate, maybe the BIG circus poking over other side of estate)

Cost of entry? An embarrassed smile!
(Characters and a few animals peering from behind tent entry, Boy puzzled.)

This way, please…
(Usher’s hand, with torch, reaching up from behind wooden seats.)

Look! Nervous juggling girls!
(Girls dancing, juggling, twirling plates behind startled looking customers with popcorn and hotdogs in their hands.)

Strong… but clumsy!
(The muscle woman’s an embarrassed klutz.)

Not all lions are brave…
(Clowns can just be seen by their hands and legs and hats, with the odd scared eyes, holding up a baffled looking lion so nobody can see them as they walk across the ring.)

Watch the Fabulous Barone Brothers… in the dark!
(Trapeze artists, head torches on, arms out like blind.)

Popcorn, anyone?
(Hotdog stand, with wooden leaver and gears hand, holding out popcorn, man controlling it has face mostly under the counter.)

Abracadabra, I guess…
(Magician legs wrapped around top of tent pole, where nobody can see him, producing a scared rabbit from his hat.)

(Small girl in ballerina costume, huddled in bottom of a closet, singing into a microphone.)

Oh, no! It’s the local bully!
(Brash kid, boy and girl, just as cocky, backing him up, all three standing in tent entrance, chests out, like they own it.)

Hey now! He’s laughing at Joe’s stutter!
(Joe is bearded lady. Other two in background, riding startled baby animals.)

Boo! What a meanie! Everybody hide!

Somebody do something!
(Kid, looking nervous.)

Please! Won’t anyone be brave! Just this once?!
(Bully doing muscle pose while standing on top of scared animals and muscle woman, circus crew and audience all recoiling in fright. Clowns hiding behind hay bails, bums in air.)

We need a hero! You don’t have to be big or strong!
(Bully scoffing all sorts of food from the hotdog stand, kid from start of book nervously reaching for wooden leaver as if it was a time bomb. )

(Show off falling through wooden trap door beneath them )

Polite applause only, please.
(Kid looking super embarrassed as people’s hands clap from just above the seats they’re hiding behind, whole circus crew looking bashful and/or awkward, poking their heads out a bit from hiding spots to direct warm smiles to the kid.)

Phew! The crowd’s gone.
I bet you didn’t think there’d be so many people just like you…!

(Kid, in circus ring, talking and milling with circus performers. The seats behind them – where the public would be – are empty. A clown on a big uni-cycle is juggling, confident within his own crowd.)

Ssh! A modest exit…
(Kid sleeping against test-your-strength pole, magician’s hat on, while circus performers and animals tiptoe away behind him…)

You’ll always have a home at the Circus of the Shy, kid!
(Scared looking clown at very top of frame, awkward hands pulling back a first of three water balloons he has dropped is landing on and waking the kid.)

See you next year! (Well, if you don’t mind, that is…)
(Kid left alone on footpath. Ringleader can just be seen hiding behind street light, where kid can’t spot him, waving goodbye )


The End




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