Performers Brendon Peel & Li Lau AKA “One Crazy China” share their side of the story & address several errors published in the media regarding the recent incident in which Lau was injured by a crossbow bolt during a performance of “Carnival Sideshow & Other Magical Things” at the National Arts Festival at Makhanda on 30 June 2019.

"Carnival Sideshow & Other Magical Things", performed by Brendon Peel & Li Lau at National Arts Festival 2019

“Carnival Sideshow & Other Magical Things”, performed by Brendon Peel & Li Lau at National Arts Festival 2019

The escape was designed by Li Lau himself & has been regularly performed as part of this show without any previous incidents occurring at public performances. However, as this stunt is not ‘an illusion’, injuries are likely & expected; escapologists are frequently injured during escapes.

Peel & Lau wish to state that they were not approached by the media to make comments before the story was published by The Daily Dispatch, News24, EWN, TimesLive & MSN South Africa.

As a result, the media has not published the facts of the incident; Peel & Lau make the following comments:

  • In designing this escape, all serious risks were mitigated & prepared for. An escape is not ‘an illusion’; it is a demonstration of real skills.
  • The media has reported that ‘an actor’ was shot: actors pretend to be shot, Lau was demonstrating a skill with real risks.
  • The media reported that Li Lau is Peel’s “assistant”: Lau is the co-writer & co-performer in the show. In this segment of the performance, Peel was actually assisting Lau.
  • “Brendon Peel fired a single shot to the head…”. This is factually incorrect. The escape is performed while the crossbow is held by apparatus & fired by a mechanically-timed trigger. At the time the crossbow was fired, it was not held by either performer.
  • The stunt was performed as the finale of the performance & the performance ended at the expected time. The reports that the show was ‘cut short’ are inaccurate, even if the performance did not end as planned.
  • The reports state that the audience was traumatised & would be offered counselling. Peel & Lau commend the National Arts Festival for considering the wellbeing of the audience members. Peel stated that the morning after the performance: “We have gone to see the school [whose pupils were in the audience] this morning to show that Li is perfectly fine and the kids were very happy and even said they loved the show.”

Lau was discharged on the evening of the incident, having received stitches to the head at Settlers Hospital. He immediately published a video stating that he is otherwise physically well.

Both performers wish to state that they appreciate the support of the National Arts Festival & the actions taken by the festival organizers. After analysing why the injury occurred, steps will be taken to increase the safety of the performers & audience. Until such time as the reason for the incident has been established, Peel & Lau have agreed with the Festival organisers to remove the stunt from this festival’s performances.

However, given the nature of the demonstration, Peel & Lau wish to remind the public that they are extremely skilled & experienced performers that understand the risks taken & that the public should never attempt similar demonstrations without expert support & knowledge.

The rest of the performances of “Carnival Sideshow & Other Magical Things” will continue at the 2019 National Arts Festival, as scheduled, with daily performances until 6 July 2019. For more information, visit https://www.nationalartsfestival.co.za/events/carnival-sideshow-and-other-magical-things/