Abela, Donna. Circus Caravan. 25 pp. A 1-9 When Adele’s mother passes away, her father, hoping to lift Adele from her subsequent depression, arranges for her to spend the summer with her Aunt Marichka, a traveling circus performer. Adele tells her experience through the play’s actions with the help of Marichka and her traveling companion, Geordie. In the beginning, Adele is reluctant. She complains about Marichka and Geordie’s hand-to-mouth lifestyle, the discomforts of life on the road, and the training they give her in funambulism, tightrope walking. As they travel from town to town, Adele is surprised to discover how quickly people judge the little group of travelers: children taunt them, merchants refuse their patronage, and police harass them. As Adele becomes increasingly unhappy with people’s prejudices, she begins to find the good in her traveling companions. She comes to appreciate Geordie’s struggles as he learns to read and Marichka’s patience and generosity toward those who are unkind to her. When Geordie is thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Adele and Marichka work together to save him. Adele uses all of her newly acquired skills to protect their camper, while Marichka helps the city officials see through their prejudices by reminding them how much they have benefited from circus people. In the end, the three are reunited and happily continue their journey. Circus Caravan makes effective use of the power of storytelling. The three characters have great fun relating their tale, teasing each other, and inserting forgotten details into the others’ accounts. They illustrate the story by acting out more than twenty other people with whom they interact. The idea of overcoming prejudice through mutual understanding is clear but not overbearing, and the division between “circus people” and “city people” gives the story a unique flavor. This play requires a cast of three and a few basic props. From: Ellis, Roger, ed. International Plays for Young Audiences: Contemporary Works from Leading Playwrights. Meriwether Publishing, 2000. ISBN 1566080657. $16.95. 424 pp. K-12 Reviewed by Lindsay Adamson
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