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BOSWELL WILKIE CEASES TOURING (article first published : 2001-10-21)

The sawdust, the spangles and the magic of the big top will no longer bring joy and laughter to the whole of South Africa and neighbouring states. The world famous Boswell Wilkie Circus has ceased the touring side of the business, due to difficult economical times.

W.H Wilkie brought the internationally-renowned circus to South Africa more than 46 years ago. Since then it has become an institution and has been most innovative in South Africa where it pioneered for desegregated audiences and became the first to defy the ban on Sunday entertainment. W H Wilkie, who died at the age of 91 in 1998, adjudicated at the world famous Monte Carlo Circus Festival and was highly respected by the world circus community. His children Robert and Susie have carried on the tradition.

The big top has now been moved to the circus farm at Randvaal to be used for corporate functions and Christmas parties with facilities to hire artistes, tents and equipment.

“As the saying goes "once a bit of sawdust gets into your blood it stays there forever",” says Karen Wilkie. “With so much sawdust in the veins of the Wilkie family, they will not easily give up and they are working on a project to give children, particularly the previously disadvantaged children, a chance to learn circus skills and possibly develop talent that may otherwise never be unearthed.

“Youngsters will be trained in a professional environment in juggling, comedy, acrobatics, tightrope walking and so on. They hope to have groups of up to 20 students aged from nine to 15 at a time who will have workshop courses of about two hours twice a week spread over three to six months at the circus farm.”

Performances will be given regularly under the wings of professional performers to boost the confidence and morale of the children. With the aid of equipment, costumes, make-up artistes, music and sound systems provided by Boswell Wilkie Circus they will have a opportunity to show off their talent and developing skills. Sponsors will be approached and schools will be invited to select and nominate potential candidates.

More details from Karen Wilkie on 083 226-1213 or e-mail: circus@icon.co.za or visit circus.www.icon.co.za




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