I once worked a circus touch tour for children who were visually impaired—an opportunity before our show for those kids to touch the things everyone else sees later.
I was chatting with a very kind, eight-year-old girl, and she was feeling my big clown shoes and my silly wig and hat. When she touched my face, her fingers were so sensitive, she could tell where the colors changed in my makeup.
Later, our handlers brought out the finale of the event–one of our elephants–and I was overwhelmed at the thought of how special this moment would be for my new friend.
With tears in my eyes, I asked her, “Are you ready to touch a real, live elephant?” She shook her head and said “No, thanks. He stinks.” It was a reaction any child might have had. So why had I been so surprised? That day, she taught me a valuable lesson:
She was a child first. She just also happened to be blind.
My goal at any event is to entertain through play. I want to perform
with my audiences, not just
for them. From calling back and forth with 500 kids
in a school assembly, to getting a tiny smile from a scared toddler in a balloon line, it is those playful connections that I cherish most in my work.