Lockdown leaves circus up in the air

The show must go on … unless there is a nationwide lockdown.

The Great Moscow Circus was in the middle of its New Zealand tour when the lockdown came into effect, stranding the performers and their families in Ashburton. But circus owner-director Harry Weber said things could have been worse.

Circus owner Harry Weber and son Diesel (2) practise for the show. Photo: Ashburton Courier
Circus owner Harry Weber and son Diesel (2) practise for the show. Photo: Ashburton Courier
“Fortunately we are in a beautiful place that Ashburton is, in a nice park here, it could be a lot worse. The community has been very nice to us, the manager from New World has been great, just people are very nice, naturally all done by email and Facebook,” he said.

A disappointment for the family was discovering the flying fox missing from the Ashburton domain site, where the circus was based.

“One of the first things the kids did when we got here was run out to the flying fox, but that’s gone now.”

They were keen to bring the show to Ashburton this year, as it was cancelled last year due to lockdown.

The show, which changes every two years, was due to finish this year. There were 50 people involved including performers, children and partners.

Harry, who was born in Germany, is a seventh-generation member of the Weber circus family. He and Kiwi wife Marie have eight children who all perform in the circus. Twelve Ashburton shows had been cancelled due to the current lockdown.

“This has affected us greatly but also the people of Ashburton because we had kids with their birthday parties coming to see the circus. I can put myself in the kids shoes being all excited to come the circus.”

Harry Weber would like the circus to stay open after lockdown is lifted.

“Once we open up again we are hoping the council will allow us to stay here for an extra week after lockdown, so we can honour tickets and let all these people, especially the kids, come and see the circus.”

His family and other performers have kept occupied during lockdown practising and training. The children get plenty of playtime and walks around the park.

When not in lockdown the family have a full schedule with the circus on the road 48 weeks of the year, touring throughout New Zealand and internationally.

They have also found time to star in their own reality TV show called The Circus which aired on Bravo, showing the life of the circus family and earning them the ‘Kiwi Kardashians’ nickname. Season one is available online at ThreeNow.

 - Daniel Tobin

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