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Circus: American Experience

Circus: American Experience

This series follows the rise and fall of the gigantic, traveling tented railroad circus, recounting the era when Circus Day could shut down a town, and circus stars were among the most famous people in the country. For many Americans, the circus embodied the improbable and the impossible, the exotic and the spectacular. Through the intertwined stories of several of the most innovative and influential impresarios of the late 19th century, the series reveals the circus was a uniquely American entertainment created by a rapidly expanding and industrializing nation; that it embraced and was made possible by Western imperialism; that its history was shaped by a tension between its unconventional entertainments and prevailing standards of respectability; and that its promise for ordinary people was the possibility for personal reinvention. Drawing upon a vast and richly visual archive and featuring a host of performers, historians and aficionados, it brings to life an era when multitudes of Americans gathered to see the improbable and the impossible, the exotic and the spectacular.

Latest Episodes

WGBY World
Sat Jul 27th, 8:00pm
Sun Jul 28th, 12:00am
Expired

See how Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey merged to create a circus of more than 1,100 people and 1,000 animals, only to limp through the Great Depression against competition from radio and movies. In 1956, the big top was pulled down for good.

Air date:
Mon, 10/08/2018 - 22:00
WGBY World
Sat Jul 20th, 8:00pm
Sun Jul 21st, 12:00am
Expired

Travel back to 1793 Philadelphia, when America's first circus was established, and witness its crash into American culture. The arrival of P. T. Barnum in 1871 transformed the trade, and the five Ringling brothers created a spectacle of their own.

Air date:
Sun, 10/07/2018 - 22:00
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