Under the Big Top: America and the Circus

A film by Sharon Grinberg

Under the Big Top: America and the Circus A Project of Filmmakers Collaborative Current Projects

About this film:

The four-hour two-part mini-series Under the Big Top: America and the Circus will tell the story of the circus in America from the first one ring show at the end of the 18th century, through the creation of the uniquely American gigantic, three-ring, two-stage tented railroad circuses at the end of the 19th century, ending in July 1956 with the decision—forced by economics and competition—to pull down the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey big top for the very last time. The series focuses on the intertwined stories of several of the most innovative and influential impresarios of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: James Bailey, Phineas Taylor Barnum, the long overlooked Adam Forepaugh and the Ringling Brothers. In following their careers, the film reveals the circus as a place of reinvention where ordinary folk could escape their pasts and recreate themselves, proving to others that they were capable of the improbable and the impossible.