"Special breed" thrilled to be back in their (socially-distanced) big top

Elaine Courtney, quick-change performer with Continental Circus Berlin, has been performing since the age of six.

By Phil Hewitt
Saturday, 15th August 2020, 11:31 am
Elaine Courtney, quick-change performer with Continental Circus Berlin
Elaine Courtney, quick-change performer with Continental Circus Berlin

Now 52 and single mum to a 16-year-old, she admits this year has been hard. Circus is her life.

“We just want to work and make a living. It’s what we want to do – and we are doing everything we can possibly do to make it safe,” she says.

Elaine is delighted to be back on the road as Continental Circus Berlin hits the south coast, with dates in Eastbourne from August 7-16 and then in Hastings from August 18-24 – in a brand-new show with all the thrills delivered in a climate-controlled, socially-distanced theatre-style big top.

“It’s really strange because we can’t interact with the public. I always like to get close up with the public because they can connect with you so much better, rather than being at a distance.”

But it’s a small price to pay if it means they can get back to business: “We are doing everything with all the sanitisers and all the controls. I really think someone should tape it and put it on Instagram and Facebook to show people that we really care and that we really are doing our best to keep everybody safe.

“We are doing our best to stay open. Five months is a long time to go without getting paid.”

Trapeze was Elaine’s act for many years, but in recent years she has swapped to quick-change.

“I have got a daughter and I decided I wanted a safer act. But I found it comfortable being in the air. I did it for a long time. I always knew if there was a problem I could sort it out on the trapeze. Quick-change is more difficult. But it is fun.”

The fun stopped earlier this year, though.

“Circus people work very hard. It is second nature for circus people to work really hard. It is what we have always done. We like a day off, but we are like a special breed in the circus.

“We love what we do. When we couldn’t continue working, at first it was like torture.

“In the morning I would go for a run just to keep sane and I would work out and I would go for a walk in the evening, just to keep my brain active.

“Everybody knows that exercise is really, really good for your body, but it is also really, really good for your head. It keeps your head happy.

“When people are used to working every day, you don’t really realise it until you stop, and when you stop it can so easily be boring.

“It is like when people retire and they think it is going to be the best thing that has ever happened to them, but then they hate it because they haven’t got anything to live for.

“Work gives you something to do. It gives you a purpose… and it is great being back at work!”

Tickets on: www.circusberlin.co.uk; box office 0203 375 3970; ticketmaster 0844 546 5555.

Princes Park, Royal Parade, Eastbourne BN22 7PY

Fri 14th 3pm & 7.45pm

Sat 15th 2pm & 5pm

Sun 16th 2pm & 5pm

Hastings, Glyne Gap Field, Bexhill Road, TN40 2JU

Tuesday 18th 7pm

Wednesday 19th 3pm & 7.45pm

Thursday 20th 3pm & 7.45pm

Friday 21st 2pm & 7.45pm

Saturday 22nd 2pm & 5pm

Sunday 23rd 2pm & 5pm

Monday 24th 2pm & 5pm


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