Chautauqua Goes to Jail

It's not often that I get to go to jail*. Well, chalk up another life experience to running away with the circus!

On Chautauqua tour, we do a combination of big shows in local theaters and smaller shows in community spaces (assisted living facilities, children's groups, and jails). My first three tours, we never made it to a jail show, for whatever reason. This year, however, we have 2! Let me tell you, they are awesome!

At the first [minimum security] facility, we had no stage, no lights, and no microphones. The audience sat in the grass or stood. Backstage was behind a tree. But despite all that, it was easily the best show I've been involved in. The inmates really really appreciated it. They clapped, hooted, and laughed when appropriate and were nothing but the best audience one could hope for. The audience participation bits were even more hilarious than usual because everyone knew everyone else. So much of a show is in the enthusiasm of the audience. This enthusiasm was off the charts.

While the scene and stage was very different at the second [medium/maximum] facility (we performed indoor in the chapel with the audience neatly seated in chairs], the enthusiasm, behavior, and appreciation of the audience was just the same. There was a lot of laughing, smiling, and cheering going on. Afterwards, we all formed a line to accept their hearty handshakes, joke about the show, and mingle. It was great.

Yeah, going to jail is pretty awesome. Here's hoping it becomes a part of every Chautauqua tour!

(To read more about this year's Chautauqua's tour, check out our official blog here)
Monday July 2 2012File under: circus, travel

Toggle Comments (2)comment?
on Tue 03rd Jul, 2012 05:08 am PDT Horge said:
Did you manage to introduce any kind of shank-juggling routines?
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on Tue 03rd Jul, 2012 05:47 pm PDT Katy said:
Jail is for short term stays and for people who are awaiting trial whereas prison is for people who have been convicted and are serving longer sentences (usually over a year). Jails are usually run by the county/city and prisons are usually run by the state/feds. I just thought I would mention because it's not really related to political correctness as no one seems to care about offending a convict (untill their out of jail/prison of course)...just sayin'
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