‘Rite of Passage for Children’ Was One of Fitchburg’s Favorite Entertainments
The Fitchburg Historical Society will premiere a new film by director Judith Lindstedt on Tuesday, October 2 at 6:00 p.m. Lindstedt’s 2018 release is Circus Lives On!, a 90-minute documentary on the history of the circus that was inspired by the sudden closure of the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus in May 2017.
“The circus is a magical, marvelous place. Ringling Brothers Circus has been around since before Coca-Cola,” says Lindstedt. “It’s a legacy brand that’s been a constant in the social contract of America. This documentary film is being produced because I feel the sadness and shock of the news of the closing of the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus.”
The film features interviews with historians, collectors and circus performers from both the United States and European circuses. Judith Lindstedt has produced hundreds of video programs for Massachusetts public community television.
Lindstedt also had an international career as a jazz dancer; in Beirut, Lebanon, she became acquainted with Sacha Houcke, whose family had performed with animals in European circuses for seven generations. One of his relatives, Gilbert Houcke, performed with Bengal tigers while dressed only in a loincloth. He was known as “The Swedish Tarzan.” Sacha Houcke is interviewed in the film, along with other performers and musicians.
In Fitchburg’s early years, circus was one of the few entertainments favored by pious New Englanders. The circus parade into town was a highlight of the city’s entertainment year as early as the 1830’s. It continued to be popular through most of the 20th century. Many Fitchburg residents remember watching the circus elephants and lions parading down Main Street.
Founded by James F.D. Garfield in 1892, the Fitchburg Historical Society is an independent non-profit that was created to collect, preserve, and interpret the history of Fitchburg. Now located in an historic H.M. Francis-designed building on Main Street, the Society hosts lectures, exhibitions and annual events relating to the city’s history.
The Fitchburg Historical Society and Crocker Family Center for the History of Fitchburg is located at 781 Main Street, Fitchburg, in the historic Phoenix building. For more information, call 978-345-1157, write firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.fitchburghistoricalsociety.org . There is abundant on-street parking near the Historical Society and free parking behind the building. The building is handicapped accessible.
This program is funded in part by the Fitchburg Cultural Council and the Townsend Cultural Council, local agencies which are supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency. The film will also screen in Townsend on October 25. For more information on the Mass Cultural Council, visit http://www.massculturalcouncil.org/index.asp.