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About Liz’s Circus Story

Liz’s Circus Story is an autobiographical one-woman play written and performed by Liz Bussey Fentress. LizThe play spans 23 years, beginning when Liz is 21 and just graduated from 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. Its founder, Wayne Franzen, has dreamed of starting a circus since he was a boy on a Wisconsin dairy farm.

Through Liz’s portrayal of herself, Wayne, and an array of other circus characters and animals (see Characters and Story), she shares the trials and triumphs of the fledgling circus and her own efforts to pursue her dream of working in theater. As a 44-year-old at the play’s end, Liz realizes that her circus experience has taught her humorous, tragic, and life-changing lessons about what individuals can achieve if they believe in their dreams.

Liz developed the play as part of Horse Cave Theatre’s Kentucky Voices program, with funding from the Kentucky Foundation for Women. She then adapted it for television, shortening it to an hour along the way. See Adapting the Script and LizPlanning for the Shoot in our From Stage to Screen section for details about the adaptation of the play for television—including the animal puppets created specifically for TV by Sam Hunt, a Butler County visual arts and humanities teacher. Ideas for using the play and television production as a teaching tool can be found in our Three-Ring Classroom.

The television version of Liz’s Circus Story is a 2003 production of KET, Kentucky’s statewide public television network. Vince Spoelker was producer/director, and Nancy Carpenter was executive producer (see complete production credits). The play is available on videotape from KET; call (800) 945-9167 or e-mail for information.

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