As a Tiger in the Jungle

A beautiful, heartbreaking performance that covers the very real issue of child exploitation in the circus

As a Tiger in the Jungle

This piece is a true story of how twins Renu and Aman are freed from their captors ‘somewhere in India’ and now living freely with the performance skills taught to them, often through brutal means. They take us on a journey asking questions about life and how surviving child slavery had led them to be in charge of their own destiny.

Themes of sadness run throughout as the audience learn of the twin’s tragic background of their mother’s sacrifice to the tigers in an attempt to protect them. You then learn that ‘tiger’ is a code word for ‘human trafficker’.

Brighton’s Open Air Theatre complimented the show well, by helping to replicate what I imagine their tropical practice ground to be like. It captures the essence of India simply, using coloured cloths, classic Indian music, stylish gestures and movements from the cast and vibrant flowers used in striking ‘ritual’ performances as part of the children’s training. There’s a cage on the ground that acts as their bedroom and a spherical cage which is used as an aerial acrobatic performance piece. One is impressive the other is heart- breaking. 

The concept of ‘risk’ also ran throughout the piece. It could be interpreted as ‘fear’ from the child’s perspective, yet ‘entertainment’ from an unsuspecting audience who are clueless to their life behind-the-scenes.

Their movement and skills as performers are spectacular, yet I was struck by the cruel irony of receiving this ‘gift’ against their will as little children. But now that they are free it is theirs to own. Renu’s powerful speech confirmed this, and demonstrated a marvellous taste of their strength and resilience. 

“Inside me, I am only me” 

There are clever moments of silliness where the characters play, and the whole show ends with a very powerful, emotive solo from Aman giving a very real demonstration of his incredible physicality. Again though, for me, it served to drive home the sadness of how these children - now fully grown adults - gained such beauty. It’s stunning and so sad at the same time. 

The company works to support a charity called ChoraChori which fights back against the trafficking of Nepalese children into Indian circuses. They subsequently helped to pass a law via Indian Supreme Court and a partner charity ChildLine India ruling that children could no longer be used as circus performers (Hurrah!). The poignant story of Renu and Aman now helps raise money for the charity’s continuing goals to improve the safety of children in Nepal. 

Header Image Credit: Brighton Fringe


Alice Wyatt

Alice Wyatt Associate

Freelancer from West Sussex with a focus on the Arts, youth engagement and getting stuff done. Formally a Youth Network Leader.

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