The Evolution Of The Circus
Mankind has sought various ways to relieve boredom over the centuries. Cavemen carved rudimentary instruments from stone and bone to make music. The Romans had their games and more recently, the circus developed to give families a chance to explore things they might not see everyday in their part of the world. This essay seeks to explore the various stages circuses have gone through and where they might be headed.
Early circuses were very much centered on the strangeness of human and animal forms. It was not uncommon to see bearded women, conjoined twins and contortionist acts for instance. This was a way for many who would otherwise be left on the fringes of society to earn a living. Unfortunately, their presence in these ‘freak shows’ may have made other people more certain that they were abnormal and not to be treated like ‘regular’ people. Animals fared even worse in circuses. They were often stolen from their native countries and abused to make them perform degrading tricks. While not on stage their quarters were inadequate and they often died much earlier than they would have in their natural habitats.
In the early 1990’s, a new breed of circus began to appear. It was more expensive, its performers were not paraded as freaks but presented as entertainers and there were no animals at all. Pioneers in this trend focused on creating a theatrical experience that was geared more to adults than entire families ad the business model flourished. From then to now, this type of circus has been seen as the most prestigious. Shows of this type regularly sell out and many of the best performers line up for a chance to audition for them.
With the availability of smart technology and the wide spread of its use, it may only be a matter of time before circuses begin to take advantage of this to start drawing in audiences remotely. Through virtual reality headgear, it may only be a decade or even a few years before people are able to enjoy the experience from home as completely as if they were really there. With virtual elements combined with physical ones, the possibilities for entertainment are endless.
Where once the circus was the only major source of entertainment and it was eagerly awaited for months until it arrived, many alternatives such as television, movies and games are available on demand. These help spur development so the art-form never stagnates.