90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
The Circus: Past And Future

Acrobat Duncan Wall ran away to join the circus, and found the circus has changed.  He’s with us.

A circus tent and worker  in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012. (AP)

A circus tent and worker in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012. (AP)

The circus, of course, goes back to Roman times and beyond.  In its recent heyday, it was the super-spectacle, the monster show, of the 19th century. The circus train, Barnum and Bailey, all that, would unload a roaring menagerie and waves of performers that would transform a town and set imaginations ablaze.

These days, that heyday is long ago.  And the circus is changing again.  Back to some old, old roots made very new.  Think Cirque du Soleil.  Think high circus art.

This hour, On Point:  an insider’s view of the the changing world, the evolution, of the circus.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guest

Duncan Wall, author of “The Ordinary Acrobat: A Journey into the Wondrous World of the Circus, Past and Present.”

From Tom’s Reading List

The New Republic “This question—is the circus art?—is at the center of Duncan Wall’s book The Ordinary Acrobat, a history of the circus up to the present day told through a memoir of his year at a circus school in Paris. Each chapter introduces an aspect of the circus as Wall encounters it, so we learn about the origins of the flying trapeze, for instance, when he finally screws up the courage to enroll in his college’s trapeze class. On the way, Wall interviews performers and other writers about their approach to the circus.”

The Observer “When economists bemoan the foreign drain on homegrown talent and skills, they probably don’t have trapeze artists, acrobats or high-wire walkers in mind. Yet Britain has lost a generation of highly-trained performers to circus troupes based abroad.”

Excerpt: “The Ordinary Acrobat”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Feb 27, 2015
Federal Communication Commission (FCC) ChairmanTom Wheeler, center, joins hands with FCC Commissioners Mignon Clyburn, left, and Jessica Rosenworcel, before the start of their open hearing in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015.  (AP)

A US-Israel rift. A win for net neutrality. “American Sniper” verdict. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Feb 27, 2015
This image released courtesy of the Lead Belly Estate shows folk and blues musician Huddie William Ledbetter, better known as Lead Belly. Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter never had a hit record before he died of Lou Gehrig's disease in 1949. (AP)

Going back to Lead Belly. The blues legend is back. His influences, as big as ever.

RECENT
SHOWS
Feb 27, 2015
This image released courtesy of the Lead Belly Estate shows folk and blues musician Huddie William Ledbetter, better known as Lead Belly. Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter never had a hit record before he died of Lou Gehrig's disease in 1949. (AP)

Going back to Lead Belly. The blues legend is back. His influences, as big as ever.

 
Feb 27, 2015
Federal Communication Commission (FCC) ChairmanTom Wheeler, center, joins hands with FCC Commissioners Mignon Clyburn, left, and Jessica Rosenworcel, before the start of their open hearing in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015.  (AP)

A US-Israel rift. A win for net neutrality. “American Sniper” verdict. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: February 27, 2015
Friday, Feb 27, 2015

We won’t lead you into a debate on the color of #TheDress (it’s blue and black, end of debate), but we do wonder about the blurring lines between so-called Internet culture and general popular culture. Also, it’s snowing in Boston. Still.

More »
Comment
 
Two Congressmen Weigh In On DHS Funding
Tuesday, Feb 24, 2015

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland present their views on the ongoing Congressional budget fight over Department of Homeland Security funding. (Spoiler: They do not agree on a resolution of the crisis).

More »
1 Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: February
Friday, Feb 20, 2015

We explain what happened with the old podcast feed this week and last, share some other Oscar categories and reminisce about the golden days of Double Rainbows and Honey Badgers who just don’t care.

More »
Comment