Circus Is an Intimate Look at the People of the Big Apple Circus
Did you ever want to run away and join the circus? I never did--it seemed to me that performing in a circus was hard work, and without any particular talent useful to a circus, one would end up doing even harder, dirtier work. For those of us fascinated with circus life but lacking the courage to sign up, PBS offers Circus on Blu-Ray and DVD. This six-hour mini-series premiered on PBS November 3 and will be available for purchase November 9. From its beautifully filmed opening credits throughout scenes of a show being mounted, Circus introduces viewers to a world few have seen. The performers, the crew, and management all have stories to tell, and in this documentary we see what life is like, from trailer accommodations to rigorous rehearsal and training for these hardy people. Included are spectacular performances by many of the acts that make up The Big Apple Circus. Their athleticism is awe-inspiring.
Circus profiles the strengths (and weaknesses) of those who work under the big tent. There are 150 people sharing space, eating together, and living their own lives. Many of them have big issues, many feel that the circus is their home. Some performers are from families that have spent generations in the circus, others are newcomers, not all from a show biz background. Viewers are cautioned that there is strong language in the series, which is not surprising, considering that it is real life (as real as life in front of cameras can be, definitely more real than celebrity reality shows). As Circus unfolds, so do the lives of its participants. It is touching, funny, sad, poignant, and always fascinating. An absorbing documentary, Circus confirms my deepest suspicions. Circus life is very hard work. However, for many involved, it is the only life.