Do you remember reading books about circus performances, or even watching movies about circus shows when you were little?
You imagine yourself being a spectator in the circus; watching elephants balancing themselves on one leg and tigers jumping through rings of fire, circus performers flinging themselves on a flying trapeze or clowns juggling countless balls at once.
Growing up in Malaysia, you might have been disappointed because you know you may never have the chance to watch a live circus.
However, with the Great British Circus’ arrival in Malaysia, your childhood dreams may just come true, albeit a little later than you imagined.
According to Circopedia
, the circus, which was founded in England, is essentially a visual performing art and therefore unfettered by language barriers. As a result, it is easily exportable to countries with native languages different from the languages of the performers.
Keeping this tradition alive, the Great British Circus, which is actually a homegrown circus brand owned by Amazon Fauna Sdn Bhd, found a strong footing Malaysia and struck a chord within circus lovers’ hearts.
recently spoke to the director of Amazon Fauna Sdn Bhd, Lee Kien Long, to get behind the scenes of the Great British Circus.
Living the circus life
Lee said the Great British Circus found its footing in the country because of the dream of one man.
“Lee Kok Onn is the Great British Circus’ founder and the mastermind behind the company. Having worked in the entertainment industry specialising in shows and exhibitions like funfairs and reptile shows for more than 30 years, Lee has some nostalgic memories about circuses and he wanted to bring the experience to Malaysians.
“Some of you may remember that the last famous circus show in Malaysia was the Royal London Circus show. That was more than 10 years ago. Circuses have been away from Malaysia for quite some time," he told us.
According to Kien Long, Kok Onn wanted to revive sweet memories to the older generation by bringing circuses back into their lives.
"At the same time, he wanted the younger generation who had never seen a live circus performance before, get a first-hand experience watching a traditional, live circus show.
“He started the Great British Circus in December 2014 in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, and never looked back ever since,” he said.
What’s in a name?
Many of you may wonder why the company is called the Great British Circus if it was founded in Malaysia.
Lee explained that the name was derived from the fact that they have work cooperation from circus partners in the United Kingdom.
“Even though the Great British Circus is considered an international show, we are a circus brand that is born in Malaysia, for the people of Malaysia,” he said.
However, Lee shared that starting a circus business is not an easy task to do.
“The preparation work itself took half a year and it costs a lot to make it happen,” he said.
Lee said despite the challenges, they managed to pull through and put up great circus performances.
“We work with a lot of artistes from various countries namely Ukraine, Colombia, United Kingdom, the United States of America, Australia, Peru, Ecuador, Denmark and Russia.
“People can expect various kinds of acts when the visit us. We have your regular clown shows, ring mistress, silk act and dances," he said.
However, Lee revealed that Malaysians usually come back for three specific shows.
“One is the flying trapeze where you get to see performers flinging themselves on hanging ropes and bars and get caught by other performers. Then, there is the ‘Wheel Of Death’ where giant wheels will move while the performers run on them," he said.
However, their most popular show is the ‘Globe Of Death’, Lee said.
"The 'Globe Of Death' is where one get to see performers riding motorcycles in high speed, inside a circular cage,” he explained, adding that they do not use animals in their shows.
Lee said the circus has travelled to many places, leaving a trail of great shows in its wake.
“We have performed in Tawau, Sandakan and Miri. We ended our East Malaysia tour in May 2015. We started performing in West Malaysia beginning December 2015, particularly in Klang, Selangor and moved to other places as time went on,” he explained.
Lee said the circus, despite being new and an unfamiliar territory for Malaysians in general, received tremendous response from everyone.
“Based on our observation and review, the show is very popular among families and kids.
“The Great British Circus has operated in Malaysia for the fourth year now. The response has been fantastic since we started. The response is exceptionally good during holidays.
“We do change our show from time to time so that people can expect a variety and not see the same show every time. We are happy that we are able to entertain people,” he said.
The love that the Great British Circus has from the people is evident on their Facebook page.
People who sat through the show are singing praises about it on their official Facebook page and have been giving it five-star ratings.
Lee, grateful for the kind of response they've been getting, said that they have plans to bring the show to other countries.
“We will continue touring in Malaysia for awhile. However, we do have plans to bring the circus to neighbouring countries in the future,” he said.
For those of you who want to catch the circus act, make sure to visit the Aeon Big Ampang’s car park, where they will be stationed until 11 March
Ticket prices start from RM30 for children and RM50 for adults.
For those who could not make it this time around, make sure to get updates on their next location, through their Facebook page, Great British Circus Malaysia