September 23, 2008

Clowns Told to Keep It Quiet

A CIRCUS performing in Birmingham has said its clowns had been silenced by a licensing law which bans them from playing their trumpets.

Zippos Circus said it has been told by the city council that the show is breaking the law and will be shut down unless the clowns dropped the three-minute musical part of their act.

The circus has fallen foul of the Licensing Act 2003, which forbids the playing of live music without a licence.

Proprietor Martin Burton said that applying for a licence is time- consuming and expensive, and called for circuses to be exempted from the legislation.

"I'm a big fan of silent comedy but this is nonsense," Mr Burton said.

"Live music is an essential part of traditional clowning, and for us to be told that they can't play instruments, even in the three minutes of the show which features trumpets, is laughable.

"The Licensing Act came about to regulate binge-drinking in this country - something which incidentally it has singularly failed to do - and it is entirely inappropriate that circuses should be governed by it."

The show opened on Thursday in Birmingham's Edgbaston area, and it was the only place the clowns' trumpeting had faced objections since the tour began in London in February.

Following the final night in Birmingham on Tuesday, the circus will move to Sheffield from September 25 where it is hoped the clowns' trumpets will sound out once more.

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