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PBS ‘American Experience’ preps “The Circus”

PBS documentary strand ‘American Experience’ has lined up a four-hour, two-part documentary set to explore the history of the Big Top.  Slated to air in the fall, The Circus begins with the ...
June 14, 2018

PBS documentary strand ‘American Experience’ has lined up a four-hour, two-part documentary set to explore the history of the Big Top. 

Slated to air in the fall, The Circus begins with the first one-ring show at the end of the 18th century, and spans the popular entertainment form to the 1956 final show for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. The documentary series will tell the stories of P.T. Barnum, James Bailey and the five Ringling Brothers, and how they ushered in a uniquely American phenomenon.

The Circus also explores reinvention, acceptance, and the notions of race and Western dominance that played into the circuses’ “dangerous” and “exotic” attractions.

Written, directed and produced by Sharon Grimberg, and executive produced by Mark Samels, the special includes archive, and interviews with performers, historians and aficionados.

The Circus bows October 8 and 9 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on PBS.

“Appealing to both urban and rural parts of the country, and to people from all walks of life, the circus helped forge a common American culture and identity,” said Samels in a statement. “It was an unprecedented combination of cutting-edge marketing, military-like organization and supreme artistry. The circus was where you could reinvent yourself, which is why so many ran away to join it. With the recent closing of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, the series offers a fascinating look back at this distinctly American entertainment.”

 

 

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for HMV.com. As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.

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