Giffords Circus HQ – Fennell Farm – is once more a hive of activity, with rehearsals for their new show The Hooley well underway.
The usual menagerie of wonderful performers have flown in from all over the world – from Russia, Latvia, Cuba, Spain, America, Italy as well as the UK – and have already quarantined ready to rejoin the circus in time for their first show next week.
“We are all so excited and eager to get back to performing – desperate even. we can’t wait for the hooley to begin”
The Hooley stars faces new and old, including Tweedy the Clown, Nancy Trotter Landry, Lil Rice, Rebecca Musselwhite, and Duo Imagine, with live music from the Giffords Circus band. There will be flying fairies, naughty leprechauns, wild horses, Celtic music and dancing and the most joyful Irish shindig.
“It promises to be the most magical and poignant show to celebrate our 21st year,” promises director Cal McCrystal.
Yet this year will be different in so many ways. Firstly Giffords lost its founder Nell Gifford to breast cancer in December 2019, a loss the whole company is still reeling from, secondly Covid closed down their whole tour last year, and thirdly because, having had a year off, the circus troupe is back with a renewed respect, love and passion for what they do.
“People want to get caught up in the wonder and magic of Giffords, and Nell wanted that. so it’s more a celebration that we are back together and keeping the circus going that she loved so much”
Giffords poster girl and revered circus performer Nancy Trotter Landry (see main pic) explains: “We are all so excited and eager to get back to what we do – desperate even,” she laughs.
As the pseudo ringmaster, performer extraordinaire, acrobat, singer, musician, comedian and Tweedy’s sometimes side kick, Nancy has a lot of strings to her bow, but cannot wait to get back into the infamous Giffords circus tent to perform in front of a live audience.
“The Hooley was thought up by Cal and Nell before she died, so we have all come back really focused. There is a real ‘Let’s Do This’ mentality this year because we are all eager, desperate even, to perform again, to have some fun and do The Hooley justice,” Nancy adds.
“This year is feels like a real privilege to be performing again so we are all really excited”
“Disbanding the circus last year and all going our separate ways was very confusing for everyone so there is a renewed sense of purpose.”
So how do they feel about carrying on without Nell? “People want to laugh again, and get caught up in the wonder and magic of Giffords, and Nell knew that and wanted that, so it’s more a celebration that we are back together and keeping the circus going that she loved so much .”
Read our interview with Nell’s sister the author Clover Stroud here: https://www.oxinabox.co.uk/i-just-miss-her-clover-stroud-on-motherhood-grief-her-new-book-and-life-after-nell/
Starting off in a limited seating capacity until the rules relax further, dates are already selling out fast, as the usual Giffords mania hits and its fans can finally get their fix.
“The Hooley is a brilliant show. Cal is Irish so he and Nell had a great time planning it together before she died. So we just want to do it justice. This year is feels like a real privilege to be performing again so we are all really excited. We can’t wait.”
Giffords Circus The Hooley UK tour runs from May 19 and runs until September 26. It will be visiting Fennells Farm in Stroud, Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe, Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, Daylesford Organic farm, Stonor Park in Henley Barrington in Oxfordshire, Minchinhampton and Stratton Meadows in the Cotswolds as well as dates in London and Wiltshire.
For all dates and venues, and to book its travelling restaurant Circus Sauce, please visit http://www.giffordscircus.com