FESTIVAL COUNTDOWN: From the novel to the classroom to the stage to the Festival

A post from Beth Turcotte, bookwriter of The Circus in Winter, about where the show came from and its connection to arts education.  

The Circus in Winter is the product of an immersive learning project developed with support from the Virginia Ball Center, Ball State University in the spring of 2010.  The class consisted of fourteen remarkable students from five different disciplines from across the campus.  Over the course of three months, the students adapted the novel, The Circus in Winter by Cathy Day, into a musical.  Now, anyone who has ever directed, produced or taught, knows that some days working with a group of creative folks is like herding cats.  Then comes the day when you figure out which student is Antares, the anchor, and you become Ben Hur taking the curve with all four white horses perfectly lined up.
Image from the Ball State University production

Over the next two years concert performances took place on campus, at the Peru International Circus Hall of Fame and at Drury Lane-Oak Brook, Chicago, Illinois.  This past fall, Circus had a fully realized  production at Ball State University. This production was also an American College Theatre Festival entry.  Circus was selected as a regional participant for ACTF at the University of Illinois in January 2012 and recognized with eight Kennedy Center/ACTF Awards including Outstanding New Work this past May.

Although the students have all graduated and moved on to new adventures, they will forever be linked with this project.  Ben Clark, composer and lyricist, remains with Circus and will anchor it around its next curve.
The Circus in Winter is arts education at its best.

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