Another Chance to see Circus

Another Chance to see Circus

General The Circus in Winter

The Circus in Winter will be going to the American College Theatre Festival in January!

Come see our Benefit Performance on January 2nd in University Theatre! If you missed it this fall, here is your chance to see it now! It’s amazing.

The Circus in Winter

By the students of the Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry
Inspired by the novel by Cathy Day
Directed by Beth Turcotte
Musical Direction by Ben Clark and Alex Kocoshis
Choreography by Erin Spahr

University Theatre

January 2 at 7:00pm

Tickets: $10-all proceeds will go toward the students traveling to the American College Theatre Festival

Based on the novel by Cathy Day and adapted for the stage by Beth Turcotte and students from the Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry, The Circus in Winter is the story of the passion beneath the big top. Join Wallace Porter, a stable owner from Indiana, as he falls in love and searches for his life’s work, a journey that culminates in the purchase of his own circus. Filled with fantastic characters, heart-rending moments of love an loss, and extraordinary new music, The Circus in Winter is a feast for the eyes, ears, and heart.

For more information, please contact the University Theatre Box Office at 765-285-8749 or

Tickets will go on sale on December 12th! Box Office Hours are as follows: December 12-16 from 1-5pm, December 19-22 from 1pm-5pm, December 23 from 9am-Noon, December 28-29 from 1-5pm, December 30 from 9am-Noon and January 2 from 5-7pm.

Here’s all the backstory!

Directions, etc.

Please come to Muncie and see this amazing production. You won’t be sorry. I guarantee.



CW Programs General Teaching Writing

I often make these remarks to MFA program applicants: You’ll never write a good Statement of Purpose (SOP) until you realize that everything I say today is wrong. It may be right for me, but it is wrong for you. Every moment, I am, without wanting or trying to, telling you to write the SOP I would write. But I hope you learn to write an SOP like you. In a sense, I hope I don’t teach you how to write an SOP but how to teach yourself how to write an SOP. At all times keep your crap detector on. If I say something that helps, good. If what I say is of no help, let it go. Don’t start arguments. They are futile and take us away from our purpose, which is to get you into graduate school. As Yeats noted, your important arguments are with yourself. If you don’t agree with me, don’t listen. Think about something else.

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Talk to the Volleyball or “Know Your Audience” (Real or Imagined)

General Teaching Writing

Blogging has taught me that some of my best writing–my clearest, most readable narrative voice–emerges when I imagine that I’m writing (or talking) to a specific group of people.

You may have noticed that I often interview myself here at “The Big Thing.”

Really? I never noticed that, Cathy.

Well, I do. I learned this trick writing Comeback Season; whenever I got stuck, I’d bring out my handy-dandy sideline reporter Suzy Hightop. She asked me pointed questions, and I was forced to answer them. Eventually, Suzy became not just a device, but a real person to me. She became my Wilson, the volleyball/friend in Castaway with Tom Hanks. 

Since I started blogging, I’ve learned that when a post is swirling around and going nowhere, I should make up fake interview questions posed by the ideal reader of that particular post.

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How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation for MFA Programs

CW Programs General Teaching The Biggest Things
Dear Professor Day, remember me?
Dear Professor Day, remember me?

Dear former student o’ mine,

Thanks for your email/Facebook message asking for a LOR. I’m glad to hear that you want to pursue a graduate degree in creative writing.

This is one of those moments in life—like graduation, marriage, the birth of a child, getting a job—in which you proceed through a gauntlet of people’s attentions, and thus, you need to follow rules of etiquette—not just with me but with every single person you are about to encounter. Not to go all Emily Post on you, but mind your P’s and Q’s. If you aren’t sure what those are, pay attention. I’m going to talk explicitly about implicit subjects related to the MFA Program Biz. Continue reading

The Greatest Show on Earth

The Greatest Show on Earth

General Writing


University Theatre of Ball State University


September 29-30, October 1, 5-8 at 7:30 p.m., and October 2 at 2:30 p.m. 


Adaptation by the students of the Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry, Directed by Beth Turcotte, Musical direction by Ben Clark and Alex Kocoshis, Choreography by Erin Spahr 

How to Order Tickets:

The box office is open from 12 to 5 PM Monday through Friday (765)285-8749 or $16 Gen. Adm., $12 Senior, $11 Student. Group rates are available.

How did this happen? 

This explains it pretty well. Basically, the musical happened because 1.) Prof. Beth Turcotte at BSU proposed the project, jumped through the hoops, herded the cats, and drew the very best out of 2.) an incredibly talented group of young people with mad, mad skills, and 3.) it happened because of one devout fan of the book: Prof. Tony Edmonds. He’s been teaching The Circus in Winter in his courses at Ball State since it was first published, and thus, when Beth’s group got together to talk about a book to adapt, many had read it. It’s extraordinary that a room full of people anywhere (other than in my hometown or perhaps in my parents’ living room) would have my book in common. 

How faithful is the musical to the book?  

Quite faithful, but wisely (since my book is a collage and a good musical is a straight line), they only used the first five stories in the book. You’ll meet Wallace Porter, Irene Porter, Jennie Dixianna, and Elephant Jack, Caesar the Elephant (yes! there’s an elephant!) among others, as well as a few new characters not in the book.

What’s the musical about?

Basically, it’s an origin story; why does Wallace Porter buy a circus? “The Circus in Winter is the story of passion beneath the big top. Join Wallace Porter, a stable owner from Indiana, as he falls in love and searches for his life’s work, a journey that culminates in the purchase of his own circus. Filled with fantastic characters, heart-wrenching moments of love and loss, and extraordinary new music. The Circus in Winter is a feast for the eyes, ears and heart.”

Where do I go?

The University Theatre and Box Office is located on the Ball State campus behind Emens Auditorium, across the plaza south of Bracken Library.

Will you be there, Cathy?

Maybe. I can’t attend every performance, but I will definitely be there opening night, Sept. 29, Sunday, Oct. 2, and on Thursday, Oct. 6.

Will there be a post-performance Talk Back so the audience can learn more about the adaptation and production?

Yes, it’s on Thursday, Oct. 6 after the show. I’ll be there, although my involvement in the production was quite minimal. The students and faculty who did the adaptation will be there (although some have graduated), along with members of the current cast and crew.  

How does this feel?  

I started writing The Circus in Winter exactly twenty years ago when I was a college student in Indiana, and it makes me happy that this adaptation was also done by college students in Indiana. Mostly, I’m just really grateful. These characters have been in my head for twenty years, and I can’t wait to meet them. I’m pretty sure I’ll cry a lot. It’s a very overwhelming experience to have your inner truths sung back to you.

How can I learn more?

If you can’t come to the show, follow the musical on Twitter @circusinwinter. They live tweet rehearsals. 

May all your days be circus days!