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  • The Ins and Outs of Circus Performance

    The Big Apple Circus’ founding artistic director Paul Binder served as ringmaster for more than 30 years, and is the author of the new book “Never Quote the Weather to a Sea Lion: And Other Uncommon Tales from the Founder of the Big Apple Circus.”
    What does performing as ringmaster entail?I was in the Dartmouth Players in college, so I studied acting. But the ringmaster is a very specific role. For one, you’re holding a microphone all the time, and working in the ring is the extreme of theater in the round. It’s almost 360 degrees. It is the classic form of theater, [going] back past the Greco-Roman theater to tribal rituals out of which all the theater grew; it was virtually always done in a circle. So [in the circus] we trace our roots back to the original theater. Once I was in it I took the time to do the homework and understand that wow, this is powerful stuff.
    How did you initially get involved in show biz?I was a theater rat—I couldn’t leave. I just had to be near that stage all the time…. My first job out of Dartmouth was as floor manager for “The French Chef” with Julia Child—an incredible job. We did two shows a day: The morning show we taped would be the

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