Festival fun from Steve

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Skills and laughs are the mix in the family-friendly entertainment Steve Rawlings will be offering at this year’s Petworth Festival (Leconfield Hall, Saturday, July 16, 7pm).

Whether juggling ping-pong balls with his mouth, setting his head on fire or flinging blazing torches, furniture, giant cartwheels and tenpin bowling balls in the air, Steve is a performer who demands attention.

All are skills he honed on the streets before coming inside from the outside - circus skills, but not presented in a circus fashion.

“It’s not me coming out to spangly music in an aren’t-I-clever kind of way! I do them as a stand-up,” explains Steve from a cruise ship docked in Toulon. He likes his cruise work: “Essentially it is me having someone else’s holiday!”

It all started when Steve taught himself how to juggle, and from there he went off busking in Covent Garden where performing in front of crowds taught him the rest, allowing him eventually to move inside.

The point about working on the streets is that people vote with their feet. If you don’t keep them interested, they will wander off. It’s as simple as that.

“If people have bought tickets, they are much more likely to stay! Plus, on the street you will get much more random reactions from people, just because you are on the street. You just don’t know what is going to happen or what they are going to say.”

Steve now brings to it all a wealth of experience, including more than a hundred TV shows and stints performing for the troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He was one of the first performers in Kabul, a great experience but weird at the same time.

“But it was fantastic. We were going round like ambassadors. It was brilliant. They backed a lorry into a tent, and we did a show to 400-500 soldiers.”

More details on www.petworthfestival.org.uk.