“The Greatest Show on Earth” Comes to an End

Category: Lifestyle/Entertainment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. run / rʌn / (n) – a certain period of time when an event takes place

    The show’s popularity encouraged the producers to extend its run.

  2. peak / pik / (v) – to achieve the highest degree of something during a certain period of time

    The show’s popularity peaked during the early 2000s.

  3. draw in / drɔ ɪn / (phrasal) – to attract

    The highest-rating TV program reportedly draws in 100 million viewers every evening.

  4. closure / ˈkloʊ ʒər / (n) – a situation or event that indicates an ending

    They had a final meeting to mark the closure of the project.

  5. taste / teɪst / (n) – a liking for something

    She has a taste for classical music.


Read the text below.

“The Greatest Show on Earth” ends its run after 146 years.

The traveling circus “The Greatest Show on Earth” came to life in the 1800s after two groups of performers joined forces. The first was a display of animals and unusual talents popularized by showman Phineas [FIN-ee-uh s] Taylor Barnum. The second group was composed of juggling acts and skits performed by the famous performing siblings, the Ringling brothers.

The popularity of the circus peaked in the United States in the mid-1800s until the mid-1900s, to the point that children dreamed of joining it. It drew in crowds by featuring animal acts that included lions, tigers, camels, donkeys, kangaroos, and elephants. However, its fame declined as time passed by.

The eventual closure of the circus can be attributed to three reasons. First, the number of people who watch significantly dropped, which has caused problems in the show’s finances.  Since the show generates less income from ticket sales, it needs more money to shoulder the performances’ operating costs and the education of the performers’ children. The second reason is the evolving tastes of the intended audience, primarily children. The circus has faced increasing difficulty competing against movies, television, video games, and the Internet for the public’s attention. Lastly, the circus has a long history of being criticized by animal rights groups for its treatment of animals, particularly the use of elephants in the show.

This year, the circus will perform 30 shows until May. Among the cities where the circus will perform are Atlanta, Washington, Philadelphia, Boston, and Brooklyn. The last set of shows will be performed in Uniondale, New York, on May 21.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• What could the circus have done to make its show more attractive to children?
• What are usual characteristics of shows that attract children?

Discussion B

• What traditional shows are no longer common in your country? Discuss.
• Do you think traditional shows should be modernized? Explain.