Given a choice between homework and juggling, most kids will lean toward the latter, tossing one, two, then three napkins into the air before Mom can even finish her question.

Then again, most kids aren’t given such offers. But that doesn’t stop them from daydreaming about an eventual escape to circus life, where they’ll wear big shoes and red noses and play fetch with their pet elephant.

They’ll need skills, of course, if they plan to knock on the Big Top door, asking for a job in the center ring. Saturday’s Circus Arts Family Festival might be just the ticket to a long and successful clowning career — or at least an entertaining afternoon.

Taking place at Yarmouth High School’s Performing Arts Center, the circus-centric festival gives aspiring performers a chance to try their hand at juggling, clowning, chin balancing and mime during the one-hour session of workshops.

The workshops are hosted by Maine’s own Circus Smirkus 2010 Big Top Tour Troupers: Jared Mongeau of Cumberland and Aaron DeWitt, Shane Miclon and Collin Miclon of Buckfield, as well as local clown Michael Trautman and variety artist Mike Miclon.

“If you’ve ever had a desire to juggle, do slapstick, balance things on your chin, you’ll have a chance to do that,” said Joyce Mongeau, one of the event’s organizers and mother of Jared.

And while attendees are tossing bean bags into the air or miming to one another, they’ll also be supporting local Circus Smirkus performers.

Funds raised during this event help cover the tuition for Maine’s four Smirkus Troupers as they travel this summer, living out their dreams to “run away to the circus.”

The proceeds also benefit the Yarmouth Clipper Daycampers, giving Yarmouth children the chance to see a Smirkus show during The Smirkus Freeport Magic Matinee program in August.

But it’s also about inspiring the next generation of jugglers, acrobats and clowns.

“With the workshop, I really hope that we get some kids who say, ‘This looks fun,’ and try it out and get hooked on it,” said Jared Mongeau. “That’s what happened with me. I was able to meet teenage performers and that’s what made me want to do this more and more.”

Now he’s one of the ones doing the inspiring. And no doubt plenty of Saturday’s attendees will head home with visions of clown cars dancing in their heads.

Following the workshops, the lively and talented instructors take the stage for a one-hour circus arts performance that’s sure to delight audience members young and old. Who knows, Mom might think about running away to the circus too.

“It’s not only to help these boys in their path and helping to raise funds and get the Yarmouth campers to the show but also that community connection,” said Joyce Mongeau. “The Portland area community gets to know these Circus Smirkus Troupers and can help send them on their way and then see them again in August (at The Smirkus Freeport Magic Matinee).”

Because of the expected turnout, organizers have planned for two identical sessions: one at 10 a.m. and one at 1:30 p.m. The first hour of each session consists of workshops followed by a one-hour performance.

Snacks will be available for purchase, should any of the young clowns get hungry (the mimes will likely motion to their bellies or take bites from a nonexistent sandwich).

“I think that families will take away a lot from the show and the experience that they’re going to get,” said Mongeau.

And kids of all ages will get a chance to run off to the circus. But they’ll be home in time for dinner.

 

Staff Writer Shannon Bryan can be contacted at 822-4056 or at:

[email protected]