The group circles the stage with brightly colored umbrellas

The Many Lions of Puerto Rico

Becca Bernard joins CWB – USA for her first tour! She writes about the many different faces of leonine courage in Puerto Rico. 

Becca Bernard

Roar! Have you ever wanted to be King or Queen of the Savannah? Here in Puerto Rico, we have many lions on our tour. One of our favorite acts in the show starts off as a game: Four traveling payas@s (gender neutral term for clown) find a lion headdress in their trunk. Each clown tries on the hat, roaring with intense ferocity, or meowing and grooming themselves like a sweet house cat. Soon, however, it’s discovered that there is a true lion in the audience. This is when the fun really starts.

Many Different Lions

We’ve now toured to 11 different locations and met 11 different lions with unique faces, styles and qualities. Our first show begins with a young girl, shy and a bit reluctant to come up on stage. But the minute she is asked to roar, she releases a bellow so strong and ferocious the entire school screams!

Another lion, a teenage boy who saves us by coming onstage just when we thought everyone at our first high school performance was too cool and unwilling to volunteer, surprises all of us by showing off two dextrous dive rolls fit for any acrobat.

The energy is pumping at another show when a girl runs onto the stage so excited to be the lion that she jumps through the hoops and attempts to climb the platform before anyone could stop her. Before the kazoo even touches my lips, she has slipped, tripped, and started to cry. Gently, we ask her if she is okay, and check her safety. Through tears, she says she doesn’t want to leave the stage. Looking out at the audience, she finishes the act with a triumphant roar.

A young lion completes the three-person pyramid

But that isn’t all…

When we go to to an adult, all-female transitional facility, our audience is dressed to impress. It’s their graduation, and most of the women wear stilettos and have their hair done. Our lioness is no different. As she raises her hand to volunteer, we wonder how this will go. Without a moment’s thought, she slips off her heels, shoves her head into the furry mane and steps up into the three-person pyramid which is our final pose.

We can’t wait to see what other lions we’ll meet next week.

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