Feats of derring-do! Amazing acrobats! Clowns both ridiculous and poignant! Majestic animals from around the world!
For centuries, the circus has transported audiences to an enthralling in-between place: a version of our world where gravity seems to disappear and everything sparkles with glitter.
The circus welcomed almost all comers who could earn their keep. Ordinary people in search of adventure could literally run away with the circus. And talented misfits found a home where what made them different made them special. They all came together to form a family that traveled the world, leaving spangly dreams in their wake.
Life in the circus was a unique combination of hard work and glamour, celebrity and disdain, excitement and ennui, with a hierarchy that ranged from the top (trapeze artists) to the bottom (roustabouts). But when the crowds departed, and the spotlights dimmed for the night, most of the performers were also responsible for tasks that didn’t inspire applause: caring for animals, packing up wagons, training and stretching, cooking and cleaning.
In this episode, we go behind the greasepaint and red velvet curtains to get curious about the circus. We discuss the larger-than-life characters who created the modern circus and explain what’s happening in the world of new circus and theater. Then we share the many books that confirmed our desire to run away with the circus, including enthralling novels, spine-tingling nonfiction, and an art book full of eye candy. (show notes / transcript)
Top image courtesy of ckturistando/Unsplash.
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