Here’s the Flea Circus treatment that I’ve been working on. I’m not sure if it’s quite finished yet - what do you think?
Flea Circus begins at night. A ruffled ballerina is thrown out of the door of a grand ballet school. She lands in a puddle. Later, downing her sorrows in the local pub, she meets Birdy, an ex-trapeze artist. He wears a grubby feathered coat, with a pair of wings attached to the back. He comforts her and realising her talent, brings her to join his circus. He gives her the name ‘Flea’, because of her nimble tapping feet. The Flea Circus campsite sprawls outwards from a ramshackle caravan in the centre. A canvas awning covers a communal area. The ground is covered with richly coloured rugs and throws. The area is lit by candles, fairy lights and a fire, on top of which is an iron pot of chunky vegetable stew. Performers practise fire pois, juggling and contact ball. Esmerelda, a young fortune teller sits by the fire, stirring the soup. As Flea arrives, Sachi, a dark haired hula hooper, stares suspiciously.
Around the fire, Flea shares her story. Back at the ballet school, Flea is in a class of perfect pink ballerinas. Lined up by the bar, Flea is struggling to perform an attitude en pointe. Her leg wobbles. A strict ballet teacher with a solemn face glares at her. The ballet teacher is Flea’s mother, Margaret. The class continues on to different moves. Close-up of Flea’s feet, tapping in ballet shoes. Margaret stands in front of her, hand on hip. Close-up of Flea’s face, defiant. Close-up of Margaret, angry. Flea’s body starts to move with the tapping of her feet. They stare at one another, Flea’s tap-dance gradually getting faster. “Stop it” says Margaret. Flea carries on dancing. “Stop it!” Margaret repeats “Stop it right now Amelia!” Flea tap dances around the room, with a powerful grace. She grins at her mother, whose face reddens with anger. Margaret lashes out and grabs Flea’s arm. “GET OUT!” she yells. The smile is wiped off of Flea’s face as she is dragged down the corridor and thrown forcefully out of the grand wooden doors. Again, she sits outside in the puddle.
The next morning, Flea wakes up to a view starkly contrasting the warmth and colour of the previous night. The fire has gone out, leaving a pit of of grey ash. The tents are ripped and tatty. Dirty washing lies on the grass. Performers lie drowsy in sleeping bags, the previous days’ colourful make-up smudged and hair messy. Behind her, Birdy and Esmerelda discuss the arrival of Fagin, the ringmaster. Esmerelda has concerns that Fagin will be displeased with Flea’s arrival, it lacking his consent. He has a fiery temper. Flea looks concerned.
Later in the day, the circus rehearses their acts in the bigtop. Spotlights create colourful lens flares, and striped white and red canvas is visible in the background. The performers wear formerly grand costumes in deep reds, purples and greens. They are tatty and faded with age. Flea appears wearing a rose coloured satin ballgown, the skirt shortened, reminiscent of a ballerinas tutu. Sachi hoops, lost in the moment. Esmerelda juggles, her jewellery jangling. Red, fire performer wearing a blue bandanna, does fire pois. They request a performance from Flea, who begins to dance in a modern combination of ballet and tap. Suddenly, everything stops. The jugglers drop their juggling balls and those talking are quiet. A door in the background slowly creaks open, light spilling through. A man appears in silhouette, wearing a tophat and suit jacket, holding a whip. He walks further into the doorway and stands still, watching. He cracks the whip, viciously. The fire pois held down at Red’s side goes out. Birdy’s glances at the door nervously. “Flea,” he says “this is Fagin.” Cut to black.