Pantomime by Laura Lam
February 5, 2013
The circus was a place for outsiders, and the R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic in Pantomime is no exception. Immigrants from the former colonies of Ellada, such as Byssia and Kymri, are members of the circus as workers or tumblers. There are people from different social strata, different sexualities, “freaks” who would be sent to the workhouse, or people with nowhere else to go.
When Micah Grey first joins the circus, he’s one of the latter. A runaway who can’t live rough on the streets any longer, he jumps onto the trapeze to prove he has what it takes. The ringmaster allows him into the circus, but for him, it’s not a safe haven right away.
Circus folk, according to my research, are and were fiercely protective of their little world. Strangers were viewed with mistrust, often hazed to see if they truly had the mettle to stay. For the circus was not an easy world. Their lives were filled with long hours and backbreaking work, and they had to trust each other with their lives. Once you were in, you were in, and the circus could become an extended family.
This haven had a hierarchy, but it was different from society’s at large. Racism was slightly less of an issue in the circus, and in back lot photos you’d see people going for a picnic on a Sunday, both black and white. However, workers and performers were often firmly segregated from each other, and there were still performers who wore blackface. Racism may linger in the circus today; it was only in 2010 that the Ringling Bros had their first African-American ringmaster, for instance (source: Hey Rube Circus). The circus is a world of contradictions.
In the close confines of R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic, racism or prejudice is much lower than the rest of Ellada at large. The people who work in the freakshow are accepted for having horns or an extra pair of legs, and no one thinks anything of it. People will be annoyed that some of the Kymri tumblers won’t bother learning enough Elladan to be understood, but they won’t be hated by virtue of being Kymri.
They’d much rather turn their attention to that new member of the circus and find out if he has what it takes to stick it out and be welcomed into their inner circle.
For more on life in the circus: Being Circus: Life in the Family Business.
Be sure to check out the rest of the tour:
(Thanks to Kenda at Lurv a la Mode for creating the button!)