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Arts Toolkit

Arts Toolkit: Drama Video Clips

Excerpts from Liz’s Circus Story



These three segments are from the KET production of Liz’s Circus Story, an autobiographical one-woman play written and performed by Liz Bussey Fentress. The play spans 23 years, beginning when Liz is 21 and a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin. With job prospects dim in her chosen field of theater, she takes a job as ringmistress, organist, and puppet show performer with Franzen Bros. Circus, a brand-new one-ring circus. Founder Wayne Franzen had dreamed of starting a circus since he was a boy on a Wisconsin dairy farm. The Drama Arts Toolkit includes three excerpts chronicling Liz’s adventures with Franzen Bros.: “Brand-New Circus” (3:17) is the opening of the play, in which Liz introduces the circus and her own dreams of becoming an actor. In “First Night” (2:50), it’s opening night for the circus, and Liz plans the order of the acts and reflects on the difficulties the circus had in getting started. Finally, “Circus of Lost Souls” (3:53) takes place years later, after Liz has left and then returned to the circus. She tells the story of a circus worker named Killer and the sense of purpose he feels from working with the circus.

Suggested Uses:

  • Use the segments as an exploration of the elements of drama—literary, technical, and performance. Literary elements: How does Fentress intertwine her story and that of other characters such as Franzen and Killer? Technical: Discuss the set, props, and sound. (Visit the web site to compare scenes shown with and without sound effects.) Performance: How does Fentress convey multiple characters using her voice, expressions, and movements?
  • Show the segments as an example of a monologue.
  • Show as inspiration for students to write and/or perform monologues about their own experiences.
  • Have students explore the idea of creating drama about other job situations; for example, working as a fireman, in a grocery store, etc. What kinds of props, set, etc. would one use to create the story?

For more information:

(These links may leave the Arts Toolkit.)

About Liz’s Circus Story:


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