The Circus in Links
How did this adaptation happen?
First, you have to understand Ball State’s Immersive Learning Initiative. Yes, I know “immersive” isn’t really a word, but still, it’s a very cool idea, and one of the reasons I am excited to teach at a college that believes in such ideas.
Second, you have to understand the role the Virginia Ball Center for Creative Inquiry played in making this possible: an opportunity for students to TAKE A SINGLE CLASS and a faculty mentor to TEACH A SINGLE CLASS that’s devoted to creating something. How do such things happen? Resources, baby. Resources.
You have to understand that one of the stars in her constellation was Ben Clark. Learn more about the genius who wrote (and scored) all of the music. Here’s the short television commercial and a longer video about the whole process. These videos were filmed in my hometown at the Circus Hall of Fame, which is located on the grounds of the former Hagenbeck-Wallace circus winter quarters, the setting of my book.
Here are two other stars in that constellation, the Wonder Twins. The set is an amazing work of art in and of itself, thanks to Christopher and Justin Swader. They used reclaimed wood from a real barn to create this round barn/circus tent.
What did the set look like? See above picture. And more pictures taken by the Ball State Daily News.
What did it sound like? Listen and see for yourself; they’ve uploaded a few videos to YouTube. Here’s the opening number, “Amazing.” Here’s the story of the courtship of Wallace Porter and Irene Jones, “If I Could Know You.” And the anthem “Circus Days.”
There are so many stars that had to align. All of these, too, the group that originated this project during Spring 2010.
And these! The group that brought this project to the stage for its premiere.
As I gathered these links, I realized how difficult it is to tell the story about a theatrical production. Because it evolves over such a long period of time and involves so many different people, there are many, many links in the chain, so many stars that have to be in just the right place in the sky for something to work.
A novel comes into being from the imagination of a single individual; the final product shows the evidence of a few other hands–trusted readers, an editor–but in general, a novel belongs to the novelist. And then it goes out into the world, and sometimes the stars are with you and sometimes they aren’t. Me, I’ve had it both ways.
It has been so enlightening and energizing to spend time with people who are artists in other mediums. They let me be a part of their creative process, and I can’t thank them enough for that. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Speaking of what happens next: I’ve heard that DVDs of the performance will be sold via the BSU Box Office in order to offset costs as the musical is submitted to further festivals. I don’t think it’s ready yet, but here’s the contact info.
Also, here’s a bit of the coverage: Lou Harry, Arts & Entertainment Editor at Indiana Business Journal had this to say about the production. Writer Erik Deckers came to see the show and had this to say. Other links here.