by Janet Munsil

High School

Drama Festival



62 minutes




Inspired by a true story. Hungry for a diversion from the events of WW2, the people of Hartford, Connecticut esape a scorching summer afternoon to lose themselves in the magic and excitement of
“The Greatest Show on Earth.” When unexpected disaster strikes and six-thousand circus-goers race to evacuate the flaming big-top, the death defying feats, animal instincts,and heroic acts normally reserved for the centre ring erupt in the panic-stricken audience.

CIRCUS FIRE is a physically demanding play for young actors, involving seamless transformations between four characters in the audience (The Little Girl, the Boy, the Mother, the Soldier) and the circus people and animals. It is performed on a bare stage with few props, using mime and physical theatre techniques. Student productions of Circus Fire have won numerous regional, state, and provincial Theatre Festival awards and competitions.


"I found myself giddy as I watched the cheerful opening passages, astonished by the miraculous second act imagery, and trembling during the catastrophic conclusion. I rode a tidal wave of emotions that haunted and delighted me long after the final whiff of smoke rose from the smouldering Big Top."  ADJUDICATOR, SASKATCHEWAN DRAMA FESTIVAL

"Brilliant . . . Munsil has tapped into something primal, strange, and oddly beautiful . . Circus Fire is bold, imaginative, and clever. The play must - and does - allow the audience to feel they are watching an actual circus. We vicariously feel its fierce, ritualistic magic."  VICTORIA TIMES COLONIST

"The beautiful ending made me weep...If I ever make a top ten list of my favorite festival plays of all time, Circus Fire will be on it."  ADJUDICATOR, SASKATCHEWANN DRAMA FESTIVAL


Get It Here

  • Developed and first produced by Intrepid Theatre for the Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival, 2001, dir. Britt Small.

  • Presented at University of Victoria Phoenix Theatres (Chief Dan George Theatre) in new version, 2003, dir. Britt Small.

  • Toured to Prague Fringe, dir. Britt Small