The modern circus has been thrilling audiences for over 250 years, but as times have changed, so has the circus. What began as little more than an equestrian performance has come to include clowns, trapeze artists and even lion tamers.
Now, as cultural sensibilities change once again, the circus is forced to adapt. Animal acts are being phased out, staged events like Cirque du Soleil are taking over, and circus performers are pushing their acts to even further extremes to hold the dwindling attention of crowds across the country.
This hour we talk with circus historians and performers, including a member of the world famous Wallenda family, about the history and survivability of "The Greatest Show on Earth."
- Linda Simon - Professor Emeritus at Skidmore College and author of The Greatest Show on Earth: A History of the Circus
- Bruce Feiler - Columnist for the Sunday New York Times and author of Under The Big Top: A Season With the Circus
- Rick Wallenda- Record holding high-wire walker and member of the world famous Wallenda family
- Stephen Payne- Vice President of Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus
Colin McEnroe and Chion Wolf contributed to this show.