The term Circus
Circus can refer to a specific type of performance, a theatrical event made up of a particular set of performances, the venue or space in which such performances occur, the company of performers that undertake such performances.
It is also used metaphorically at times, referring to an event or institution that is somehow inept, undisciplined, confused and/or ridiculous. (E.g. "The meeting turned into a circus")
The term itself dates from Greek and Roman times (Greek "κίρκος", Latin "circus", meaning "circle" or "ring"), and refers to the circular performance space used by most circusses. Over the ages the space has been used for a variety of purposes and has taken numerous forms - from outdoor games, ceremonies and spectacles, to indoor events (in temporary, and/or permanent structures, including the well-known bell-tent). In time the term also referred to the performance form itself, and the name was used to refer to companies or troops of performers as well.
Circus in South Africa
The term circus in South Africa
In South African the British usage was largely followed and the term circus thus initially tended to refer to outdoor or indoor performances demonstrating equestrian skills, usually by companies visiting the Cape Colony in the 19th century - the events possibly including some other vaudeville style acts to link the displays of horsemanship.
Later in the 19th and much of the 20th centuries however, the term was more specifically employed to refer to the more standard English definition, i.e. what Wikipedia describes as "a company of performers that may include clowns, acrobats, trained animals, trapeze acts, musicians, hoopers, tightrope walkers, jugglers, unicyclists and other object manipulation and stunt-oriented artists". Usually a travelling show, performed in a tent.
Overview and history
Some specific circuses in South Africa
Some publications devoted to South African circus life
Stage and Circus (1906-)
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