The modern circus has a rather different form and content from the chariot races of its ancient Roman namesake because it is the product of more recent times. The Royal Circus not only coined a name for the genre, but also erected a fine stage next to the ring, bringing circus close to the world of drama for much of the next century. Astley died in 1814 but his company in London went on to survive the Royal Circus, the introduction of the big top tent to Europe by a visiting American company in 1842, and the proliferation of many smaller touring companies without stages. This chapter concentrates upon the founding example of Astley's in order to analyze the attitudes to the environment that the circus inherited, and with which it played. Although the performing arts have often served as an avenue of social opportunity, equestrianism also helped to reinforce the norms of class, race, and gender.
|Title of host publication||The Routledge Circus Studies Reader|
|Editors||Peta Tait, Katie Lavers|
|Number of pages||18|
|ISBN (Electronic)||9781003074670, 9781000112993|
|ISBN (Print)||9781138915435, 9781138125353|
|Publication status||Published - 28 Mar 2016|