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Prepared by Susan Speidel, Director of Education,

and Michael T. Mooney, Manager of Access and Outreach
Funding for this program has been made possible through the generosity of
The Provident Bank Foundation, Fleet Bank NA,
Fred J. Brotherton Charitable Foundation, Schering-Plough Corporation Foundation,
SI Bank & Trust Foundation, C.R. Bard Foundation, Inc., JP Morgan Chase & Co., Novartis
Pharmaceutical Corporation, PSE&G, Nordstrom, Target Stores, FirstEnergy Foundation
Additional Funding for Paper Mills Education Programs is provided by:
New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner Agency of the National
Endowment for the Arts and by funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, The
Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, PNC Bank Foundation, Shirley Aidekman-Kaye, Kaela
OConnor, and the Harold Wetterberg Foundation


From circus day in Pompeys Rome complete with lions, elephants and performances
interspersed with chariot racing until modern day Cirque de Soleil, circuses remain the
most enduring and endearing form of family entertainment in the world.

Early Roman circuses, in keeping with the morals of the day, featured wild and exciting
athletes who fought to the death for their freedom; animal duels; daring equestrians; and
spectacular chariot races that provided entertainment for the gregarious Roman population. As the dark ages settled into Europe, circus was forgotten. Groups of touring performers presenting at marketplaces trained animals, acrobatic feats and riders kept the
circus fire kindling in the hearts of people. Out of the ashes the smoldering fire ignited
next in Britain, when Sergeant-Major Philip Astley, a much honored and talented officer
of the British Cavalry, was smitten with the excitement of performing fancy riding. After
wandering about the countryside showing off in the typical fashion of the day, Astley
stopped near London and roped off a field for his fancy riding exhibition. Astley perfected the circus ring to enhance his ability to stand on the back of a cantering horse.

2005-2006 SEASON

Interrupting equestrian feats with clown antics, a creation of Philip Astley, became the formation of our
modern circus. Later Astley covered part of the ring with a shed, then added seats. Astley soon learned
the intricacies of elaborate advertising, and with increased popularity enlarged and improved his now
famous Amphitheater Riding School. Later, adding tumbling, rope-dancing and juggling - the basic
ingredients of the circus. A competitor of Philip Astley, Charles Hughes was not only famous for his
English Royal Circus, but also his ability to train first-class trick riders. A pupil, John Bill Ricketts carried the spark of the circus to the colonies. An English cousin of George Washington, Mr. Ricketts gave
exciting performances at the Riding School in Philadelphia. Billed as performing great feats of horsemanship, the program also featured comic feats on horseback and rope dancing. Americas first
prominent circus man, John Bill Ricketts trouped from Albany to Baltimore and enhanced his program
with comic dances and tumbling. Ricketts Amphitheater was destroyed in a fire, discouraging him and
sending him back to England. He and his ship were lost in a storm. After the War of 1812, the old style,
permanent equestrian type shows were generally replaced by rolling shows that pitched their tents on
village greens. They were direct ancestors of the tented circuses we love today. These were basically
all American in design and theory and were started by Old Bet, an African elephant. In 1815 Hackaliah
Bailey purchased Old Bet from a sea captain for $1,000. Hackaliah had such success in presenting
Old Bet to the local townspeople and farmers, he arranged to purchase additional exotic animals from
other ship captains. Traveling at night to avoid free spectators, Hackaliah exhibited in barns or other
buildings. Uncle Nate Howes acquired temporary possession of Old Bet and exhibited her in the first
record of a round canvas top. The world and America grew and changed - as did the circus. From wagons to trucks to trains, the circus continues to reward innovation and creativity. With an independent
and capitalistic approach to business, the circus represents what is good and right with American spirit even today. For two thousand years the fire of the circus has burned deep in the hearts of performers as well as audiences and will continue to illuminate the world of entertainment as it continues its
evolution within the human spirit.


A circus often appears to be a small city set up in the middle of nowhere. You enter the show grounds
via the midway, which is an area outside of the main entrance lined with concessionaires, rides, and
in many shows a sideshow or menagerie. You buy your tickets at the ticket wagon, and get in line to
enter the big top.

When the doors open and you are ushered into the big top, youll notice the performance rings in the
middle of the tent, surrounded by a hippodrome track. Surrounding this track are grandstand seats,
with special (and more expensive) box seats down in front in choice locations. As soon as you take
your seat, butchers (concessionaires) will start passing by you, selling everything from peanuts and
cotton candy to souvenirs and programs. The performance itself is conducted by a ringmaster, traditionally attired in colorful top hat and tails, who uses a whistle to signal the start of each new act. A live
circus band, heavy on the brass, plays lively music, including traditional marches from John Phillip
Sousa. A typical circus performance will start with an opening parade of all animals and performers
around the hippodrome track (spec), followed by several displays of jugglers, acrobats, aerialists (a
flying trapeze troupe is a must), trained wild animals, and, of course, clowns. There is typically a 15minute intermission approximately half way through the performance during which special promotions
are offered (such as programs, balloons, or candy bars), and complex rigging is set up, often for the
lion or flying trapeze acts. Most performances conclude with the circus elephants. Following the show,
youll have an opportunity to re-visit some of the sites on the midway that you may have missed on the
way in. Circus life is not nearly as glamorous or carefree as it may seem. Circus folk typically work
eleven straight months without a day off, with the show shutting down only for a few weeks around

Christmas to ready for the New Years edition. A typical circus day starts with a late-night drive into
town, following the arrows posted by the 24-hour man the day before. Once on the circus lot, and
guided to your parking space by the 24-hour man, you get a few hours sleep before set-up begins first
thing in the morning. Set-up is the most grueling aspect of circus life, in which the equivalent of a small
town must be erected in the span of only a few hours before the public starts arriving for the first performance. The work is doled out to work crews who handle the tent (canvas crew), the seating, the
electrical generators and wiring, the animals, and the various midway concession stands. Performers
are typically responsible for setting up their own rigging at the appropriate time. Typically there will be
one or two performances on set-up day, two performances on weekdays, and three performances on
weekends. Immediately following the last show at a particular location, everything is dismantled and
packed into trucks, after which everyone hits the road to the next town. Many circuses perform this
entire ritual every day (one night stands), and of course it goes on regardless of weather, fatigue, or
the presence or absence of any paying customers.Due to the work and interdependence involved, and
the inability to form any contacts outside of the show (since it is always moving), circus folk form a very
close-knit community. Children are schooled by their parents, typically following correspondence
school curricula. Holidays are often celebrated en masse, and weddings in the center ring are not
uncommon. The community tends to be very liberal and tolerant of diversity among its members, but
untrusting of outsiders (townies). Hardships aside, there is never any shortage of excitement on the
road. Every day deals up new and unusual events, from major catastrophes such as blow downs, wild
animal attacks, vehicle accidents, and aerial accidents, to the merely humorous, such as a performer
losing an article of clothing during a performance. Coupled with the very colorful range of personnel
attracted to such a life, and the non-stop rhythm of life on the road, circus life is nothing if not unique.
Although the ground may change from asphalt to grass to mud, the layout of a circus at each location
stays relatively constant, and varies little from show to show. The entrance to the big top will typically
be placed at one end of the main tent, and the performers entrance (back door) placed at the middle
of one of the long sides of the tent. The midway will be organized outside of the big top entrance, typically in a straight line with the big top. The side show and menagerie tents, if present, will be placed
along the midway, along with the concession stands and rides. The ticket wagon will be placed towards
the entrance to the midway. Performers, equipment, trucks, and animals not in the menagerie are
organized outside of the back door to the big top, in an area off-limits to the public (the back yard).
Although many circuses have moved into indoor arenas in the last several decades, several shows still
travel under canvas throughout the world. Smaller tents are push pole, in that they are erected by
simply pushing all of the poles under the canvas. However, most large tents must be erected by other
means, typically by way of bale rings. A bale ring tent is set up as follows. Metal or wooden tent
stakes are first driven into the ground around the entire circumference of the tent, often the day before
the show arrives. On set up day, the canvas is then unrolled, usually in sections, then stitched together on the ground with rope, and fastened to the stakes. The center poles are then raised (pulled vertically by winch, truck, or elephant) and secured with guy lines. Around the bottom of each center pole
is a metal ringa bale ringwhich is attached to the top of the pole with a pulley. The canvas is then
fastened around each bale ring, and then hoisted up using the pulleys on the center poles. Quarter
poles are then inserted under the canvas and pushed erect, most often by elephant. Next, side poles
are pushed erect under the canvas, around the entire circumference of the tent. Finally, sidewall, flat
canvas panels, are fastened around the perimeter of the tent to finish the enclosure. A marqueea
small entrance tentmay be added at the main entrance to provide a sheltered entry for the public.


The Ringling empire was founded by five of the seven sons of August and Marie Salom (Juliar)
Ringling: Al, Otto, Alf T., Charles, and John. In the late 1860s, the Ringling brothers saw their first circus in McGregor, Iowa. In 1884, the brothers premiered their own show and charged a penny as
admission. In less than a decade, their developed from a small wagon show in 1884 to a railroad show
traveling throughout the United States and Canada. John Ringling attributed the brothers success to
hard work, common honesty, and a close study of what the public wants. While today no other name
is more closely linked with the circus than Ringling, the early years of the Ringling Circus showed little indication of the kind of circus it would become. In 1884, the entire show required just nine wagons
to transport it and admission was twenty-five cents. P. T. Barnum (1810-1891) and James A. Bailey
(1847-1906) teamed together in 1888 to create The Greatest Show on Earth and they became the
undisputed Kings of the American Circus. Moving from town to town on 64 railroad cars, the Barnum
& Bailey Circus was supreme and unchallenged. They defined the American circus with the introduction of the three rings, breaking with the European tradition of a single ring. In April 1906, Baileys unexpected death at the age of 59 left the circus without strong leadership. On October 22, 1907 in London,
Barnum & Bailey Ltd. sold out to the Ringling Brothers. With the acquisition of the Barnum and Bailey
show, the Ringling Brothers controlled a major part of the circus business in America. The two circuses were run as separate shows until 1919 when they were combined to form the Ringling Bros. and
Barnum & Bailey Circus, The Greatest Show on Earth. The front page of The New York Times
announced, Supercircus draws crowds to Garden.

A Brief History of Carnivals

by Michael Blanding

Even in an era of mega theme parks and canned stay-at-home amusement, the carnival continues to
draw healthy crowds. The secret of its drawing power may reflect both its essential Americana and far
older traditions.
The carnival as we know it is distinctly American. We invented cotton candy, the Ferris wheel took its
first spin at the Chicago Worlds Fair in 1892, and only Americans could come up with games, which
involve shooting a water pistol at the face of a laughing clown. But the origins of carnival go back to
ancient fertility rites, some celebrating the rebirth of spring, others marking the depth of winter, like the
Roman Saturnalia, when slaves were considered equals, a commoner was elected temporary ruler
by a lottery, and all sorts of excesses, sexual and otherwise, allowed. The Catholic church started to
crack the whip on this sort of activity in the Middle Ages, but wisely allowed a toned-down carnival to
continue. This lasted from Epiphany, 12 days after Christmas, to Ash Wednesday, when the meatless
fast of Lent begins. In fact, carnival comes from two Latin words meaning to take the meat away.
Remnants of this carnival with flamboyant costumes, parades and dances, folk dramas, and eating
to burst continue in Italy, on the Riviera, in Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans, where its known Mardi
Gras (Fat Tuesday). Throughout the rest of the United States, people are more familiar with the collection of games of skill and dizzying midway rides. In the late 1800s, innovations in transportation
and technology helped transform the carnival into a traveling whirl of sideshows and sticky food. Even
in this era of Something-worlds and theme parks, hundreds of traveling carnivals continue to draw
crowds at country fairs, on boardwalks, and in shopping mall parking lots. Perhaps they survive
because some of the ancient pagan mystery remains. In our imagination, and in novels and movies,
the carnival is still the terrain of those who dont fit of runaways and vagabond European teenagers,

down-and-outs and life-loving individualists. So were inclined to believe that a character in one Steven
King novel acquires supernatural powers from a spin on the wheel of chance, and it seems plausible
that a carny might supply cover for a man from another planet, as in Robert Heinleins Stranger in a
Strange Land. And just beyond the bright lights, who knows what is going on? The brew of pleasure
and mystery keeps the carnival alive, allowing generations of honest folk to cast aside their inhibitions
and taboos for a time. Most likely carnivals will continue to survive long after Great America collapses into dust.


Carnival! was a 1960s Tony-award winning Broadway musical starring Kaye Ballard, Jerry Orbach,
Anna Maria Alberghetti, and Richard Chamberlain. It premiered on April 12, 1961 at the Imperial
Theatre, where it played until December 15, 1962, when it moved to the Winter Garden Theatre. The
musical closed there on January 5, 1963 after 719 performances.
The show was briefly revived in a City Center Encore! production, with Anne Hatheway as Lili and puppets by the Jim Henson Company, NY Muppet Workshop. The New York Times review praised it, calling Anne Hathaway convincing in the role even though Lili may be the most unworldly heroine ever in
a Broadway musical. The original production won 2 Tony Awards: Actress (tie) and Scenic Designer.
It also won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical and the Outer Circle Critics
Award for Creative Contributions to the Season.


Bob Merrill (music and lyrics) was best known for a string of hits ranging from novelty smashes like
How Much Is That Doggie in the Window? to more serious fare including Barbra Streisands People.
Born in Atlantic City in 1921, Merrill hitchhiked to New York at the age of 17, where his first job found
him putting up titles on movie marquees. After a series of short-lived theatrical jobs, he relocated to
Hollywood, eventually getting his big break as a radio writer and composer. He co-authored If I Knew
You Were Coming Idve Baked a Cake; when singer Eileen Barton took it to the top of the charts,
Merrills career was on its way. Unable to read or write music, he composed all of his work on a cheap
toy xylophone, numbering the keys in order to transcribe the melodies. Merrills ingratiating music was
typified by its upbeat, wholesome sensibilities; he took charges of clichd lyrics in stride, freely admitting that he kept a notebook filled with clichs in order to pen more universal songs. Later returning to
Broadway, Merrill scored his biggest hit with the Streisand vehicle Funny Girl, which in addition to
People also launched the perennial Dont Rain on My Parade. In 1964, he won the New York Drama
Critics award for his work on Carnival! and New Girl in Town. After a long illness, Merrill took his own
life on February 17, 1998 at the age of 74.
Michael Stewart (book writer) was born in 1924 in New York City. He graduated from Yale School of
Drama in 1953. His first Broadway success was Bye Bye Birdie in 1960 which won the Tony Award
for Best Musical. In 1964 he collaborated with Jerry Herman on the show Hello, Dolly! which earned
him a Tony Award for Best Author of a Musical. Other musicals on Broadway include George M!
(1968), Mack & Mabel (1974) and 42nd Street (1980).
Gower Champion (original director) was born in Geneva, Illinois on June 21, 1919 (some sources
state June 22, 1920) and raised in Los Angeles, California, where he took dancing lessons from an

early age. At the age of fifteen, he and a friend, Jeanne Tyler, toured nightclubs as Gower and Jeanne,
Americas Youngest Dance Team. During the late 30s and early 40s, Champion worked on
Broadway as a solo dancer and choreographer. After serving in the U.S. Coast Guard during World
War II, Champion met Marjorie Belcher (Marge Champion), who became his new partner, and the two
were married in 1947 (photo below). Throughout the 1950s, they performed on a number of television
variety shows, and in 1957, they starred in their own short-lived CBS sitcom, The Marge and Gower
Champion Show, which was based on their actual career experiences. During this period, they also
made several film musicals, including the 1951 remake of Show Boat (with Howard Keel and Kathryn
Grayson). In 1948, Champion began to direct as well, and he won his first Tony Award for his staging
of Lend an Ear, the show that introduced performer Carol Channing to New York theater audiences.
From then on he was involved in an eclectic mixture of both smash hits (Hello, Dolly!) and dismal flops
(A Broadway Musical, which closed after one performance). Champion never lived to enjoy one of his
most successful runs. In 1980, he choreographed and directed a stage adaptation of the movie classic, 42nd Street. During the shows tryout in Washington, D.C., he learned that he had a rare form of
blood cancer, and after the curtain call on opening night - August 25, 1980 - producer David Merrick
stunned the cast and the audience by announcing, with Merricks particularly oddball form of self-promotion, that Gower Champion had died that afternoon.

Carnival! is by far the best-known version of a story which has had at least four, possibly five, incarnations:
As a short story by Paul Gallico entitled The Man Who Hated People, which appeared in the
October 28, 1950 issue of The Saturday Evening Post;
As Lili, the 1953 motion picture (right) starring Leslie Caron whose screenplay was written by
Helen Deutsch, adapted from The Man Who Hated People;

As a novella by Paul Gallico entitled The Love of Seven Dolls, published as a book in 1954;

As a 1961 Broadway musical, Carnival!, credited as Book by Michael Stewart; based on material
by Helen Deutsch; originally based upon a story entitled The Seven Souls of Clement OReilly
by Paul Gallico.

Punch and Judy Traditional English hand puppets whose roots date back to Italian comedia del arte. The violent, red-nosed Punch typically holds a stick with which he wildly abuses
the put-upon Judy. Punch and Judy shows were extremely popular in the streets of Victorian
Howdy Doody The red-haired, freckled, cowboy marionette companion of childrens television host Buffalo Bob Smith. The Howdy Doody Show was a staple of the 1950s television

The Bill Baird Marionettes Bill Baird brought the art of string marionettes back to popularity in the 1960s and 70s and his work is immortalized in the Lonely Goatherd sequence of
the film The Sound of Music.

Edgar Bergen Virtuoso ventriloquist and entertainer of the 30s, 40s and 50s. His dummies included the dandy Charlie McCarthy and hillbilly Mortimer Snerd.
Jimmy Nelson Ventriloquist whose Farfel the dog character did a series of television commercials. With his figure Danny ODay, he taught millions the art of ventriloquism through
records and tapes.

Paul Winchell Another TV ventriloquist and voice artist whose childrens program Winchell
Mahoney and his Barnyard Friends introduced the characters Jerry Mahoney and
Knucklehead Smith in the early 1960s.
Kukla, Fran and Ollie Radio star Fran Allison interacted with hand puppets Kukla (a clown
of sorts) and Ollie (a dragon) in a childrens television show of the 1950s that also became
popular with adults.

Jim Henson and The Muppets Redefining puppetry, Henson coined the term Muppets to
define his creations, combining the words marionette and puppet. Henson began his
Muppet dynasty in 1955 with Kermit the Frog, a character that still exists today. In 1971,
Kermit (at right) and many more Henson creations joined the childrens television series
Sesame Street where they still thrive. Bert, Ernie, the Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch,
Grover, and Big Bird are just a few of the endearing Muppets living on Sesame Street. In
1976, Kermit got his own series called The Muppet Show where many new Henson characters were introduced. The Muppets were featured in many television specials and films.
Henson, the voice of Kermit the Frog, died in 1990, but his son continues to keep the character alive.

Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop Lamb Chop, a simple sock puppet of a sheep with long eyelashes, first appeared in 1957 and became popular enough to have its own TV series. Lewis
also created friends for Lamb Chop such as Charlie Horse and Hush Puppy. Despite the
death of Lewis in 1998, Lamb Chop lives on in books and television.
Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood Fred Rodgers childrens television program in which he taught
gentle life lessons and traveled to the Land of Make Believe to visit King Friday.

Captain Kangaroo Another childrens television show, this one peopled by a fictional captain and puppets named Moose and Bunny Rabbit.
H.R. Puff n Stuff 1960s television program featuring a comic fairy tale land created through
masks, costumes, live actors, and a variety of life size puppets.

Wayland Flowers and Madam Madam, a hand and rod puppet, was a staple of the nightclub circuit in the 1970s, giving honest commentary on Hollywood and celebrities.
Avenue Q 2004s Tony for Best Musical on Broadway went to this irreverent satire on TVs
Sesame Street. (photo at right) As on Sesame Street, live performers interact seamlessly with
puppet characters in this racy, adult musical comedy hit.

For more information and exciting stories about Circus and Carnival life read:
The American Circus by John Culhane
A Ticket to the Circus by C.P. Fox
The Circus from Rome to Ringling by Earl Chapin May
A Pictorial History of the American Circus by Durant
Circus Kings by Henry Ringling North
Wild Tigers and Tame Fleas by Bill Ballantine
I Love You Honey, but the Seasons Over by Connie Clauson
Through the Backdoor of the Circus by George B. Beal
A History of the Circus in America by George L. Chindahl