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Freak Prodigy
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"As if films and television did not give the American circus enough to contend with [during the 1950s], the 60s and 70s brought even more; the Vietnam War, hippies and a counterculture that rejected almost everything that smacked of traditional American values, including the traditional three ring circus. Instead of spotlighting individual achievement and creativity the circus, at least in the U.S., with its emphasis on spectacle, came to be seen as promoting conspicuous consumption, an embodiment of an evil consumer culture. Such ideas were the opposite of the values espoused by the new voices that were increasingly gaining attention. In addition, the very vastness of the three ring arena militated against any honest contact between performer and audience, thus violating another of the new culture’s ideals."

- The New American Circus
Ernest J. Albrecht
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That's interesting. Look at the response. Cirque du Soleil started as five performers, no animals, playing in theaters at arts festivals. They were stiltwalkers, acrobats, and clowns. It was very intimate. Of course, since everything gets bigger as it succeeds, now Cirque du Soliel is mounting gigantic productions, against which a new bunch of performers seems to be reacting.

I won't name any of the new troupes, for fear of leaving someone out, but they perform in theaters, bars, street festivals, maybe in a tent now and again. They are generally a little grittier than Cirque du Soliel. There is sawdust on the floor, either literally or metaphorically. The performers cultivate an image of embracing values different from the big airbrushed circus: diversity, strong personalities, a sense of mission that celebrates individual potential.

Have you been to a RBBB circus lately? It's been a while for me, but I remember those pushcarts with the merch. Conspicuous consumption, that's for sure. Woe unto the parent who didn't drop a couple of sawbucks there.


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Interesting quote, Brett. What's more interesting, as I see it, is the way in which...much like America in general...the view of Circuses, Sideshows, etc has gone from one of the traditional establishment to that of being outside of, alternative to, or counter to the culture.

Another interesting and nonetheless telling quote came to me recently by a one Brett went something like this....

"...and that's off the record too..."



Freak Prodigy
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Hey now...
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I strongly disagree. Except for the author's first point, the remainder seems way off base.

As one who grew up in the 50's/60's (I know, 'if you remember it, you weren't there...") it was, indeed, a time when 'relevant' culture was counterculture: meaningful movies (instead of the Beach Party / Doris Day fluff of the 50's), meaningful music (Bob Dylan yes, Pat Boone no!), serious stuff. ANYTHING that smacked of 'tradition' was 'old-hat'.

But all that stuff about 'individual achievement' and 'conspicuous consumption' is irrelevant. I can recall thinking that the circus as presented then was overblown, bombastic, pompous (thank Feld for just NOT GETTING THE POINT.) That the promoters were trying to lard on impossible heaps of empty spectacle like that would increase my interest in kiddie entertainment. How many coats of glitter and paint can you put on a dead elephant before you realize it's not getting any prettier? How many more spangles can that aging showgirl wear, as though it helped?

It's no mystery, it's been said again and again, that in that decade TV started to bring into our living rooms things we used to wait a lifetime to see. Elephants? Acrobats? Horses, for heaven's sake? Seen 'em. Now go do your little circus, I got live pictures of a moon landing and a war to watch.
Doug Higley
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Sorry but Ernest is a moron and I'm not sure about the rest of you. (kidding? yeah.)
Or maybe I am and he's right but

RBBB has ALWAYS been a spectacle (My memories go back to the early 1940's) ALWAYS called the GREATEST Show On Earth because it delivered. It was RBBB that first brought the Electric Light to the hinterlands of the US.

It was the 'counter' culture-less that lowered itself into the mud and debased themselves and the ideals set forth that they were not able to attain. It was easier to stink.

Through today there is still a full house of families that want to recapture what RBBB is/was about and to reject the 'edgy' crap that is fostered as entertainment.

IN the 40's the SPECS or spectacles were massive productions...2 per show...huge parades and theatrical extravaganzas, usually themed to a famous book or even film.

Maybe I misread the above posts but RBBB was always the big one...always 'out there'...too big to be copied but many tried. The smaller shows were in a different's like comparing an off broadway play to a blockbuster movie...both are precious in their own right and scale. RBBB was never JUST a Circus.

Fortunately Feld DOES get it and at least attempts to retain high quality at the budgets they must work under these days and keep the ticket prices at affordable levels. No other entertainment on earth can match it for $12 for a BEST seat in the house.

I love you all but I love the RBBB Circus more. Smile I also love the one rings but that's a whole different bag of sawdust in another mental arena.

yes Doc we saw RBBB a week a go...for a $12 ticket we got entertained and dazzeled just as always. Excellent new show. (Contrast that with a $150 Cirque du So Lame ticket.)

What was NOT so special was the dump of a venue charging $15 to park.
Higley's Giant Flea Pocket Zibit
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