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Make-a-circus : Show Offers Chance To Star Under The Big Top

July 18, 1986|JULIA FRAZIER

Make-a-Circus, a San Francisco-based circus troupe that encourages audience participation, will return to Orange County Saturday for an evening of free outdoor entertainment.

In addition to witnessing the traditional circus fare of trapeze acts, juggling, stilt walking, clowns and acrobats, members of the audience at the 5 p.m. show at Irvine Valley College will be invited to participate in circus workshops and perform with the troupe.

"What distinguishes Make-a-Circus is that in the course of an evening, not only do the children get to watch the acts, but they get a chance to learn rudimentary circus skills. Then they get to perform in a second show that is specially scripted to allow for audience participation," explained Sherri Roberts, general manager of the circus, which is making its 12th annual tour. The 11-member troupe includes four musicians and a technical staff of three.

The circus will open with a musical set by the Make-a-Circus Jazz Band, followed by "The Medicine Show," a humorous play about Dr. Archimedes Sternum, a medicine man peddling his worthless wonder tonic. Evil villain Bernardo Spivwack tries to steal the formula and a beautiful heroine, Hedda Lettuce, urges the audience to forgo the tonic and pursue good health through diet and exercise, Roberts said. The playwright, Andrea Snow, is a 10-year veteran of the San Francisco Mime Troupe and a teacher at the San Francisco School of Dramatic Arts.

"The Medicine Show" will be followed by 40-minute workshops in which children and adults can try their skills in acrobatics, stilt walking, juggling and clowning. Workshop participants will be invited to show off their newly acquired stunts in a performance of "The Rat Stuff," the story of an out-of-shape laboratory rat trying to get to the moon on a space mission, written by former Ringling Brothers clown Peggy Ford.

Both "The Medicine Show" and "The Rat Stuff" illustrate this year's Make-a-Cirus theme extolling the virtues of fitness and good health, Roberts said. "Each year we try to have a theme that will help audience members think and grow and improve their lives." Previous themes have included the importance of positive thinking and the value of competition.

The Make-a-Circus performance is co-sponsored by the City of Irvine and the California Arts Council. Each performance on the tour costs about $3,500. The California Arts Council will reimburse Irvine for about one-third of that expense, Roberts said.

The circus will perform again in Orange County at 7 p.m. July 28 at Anaheim's Pearson Park Theater for an admission fee of $4 for adults and $3 for children.

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