Invention : Circus of Calamities

Circus of Calamities originally formed part of clowning workshops, with juggling, make-up, etc., and was aimed at poems describing circus acts and atmosphere.
It was played on a wide chipboard ring, 8 feet in diameter, marked with concentric circles subdivided into sections each of which bore a letter.
On this ring each player performed various acts such as somersaults juggling, tightrope-walking. The section in which the act failed gave the player a letter - they played to gain three letters.
Then the player decided on things from a circus that began with the collected letters and used them to write a rhyming song about life in the circus.

However, the players themselves decided that the game was of a circus where everything went wrong and this led them to a more humourous approach.

Despite the wide range of writing on circus themes in childrens' literature, surprisingly few of the children we met had ever seen a circus - it was like a fairy story, they knew the characters and how they behaved, but without personal experience.

In such cases, where blandness often results from struggling for fictional actuality or against the dead weight of limited fixed ideas, an extra proposition helps to free up the writing: here the circus could have been suggested to be mysterious or crazy, in outer space or in your own house. But it was the disasters they wanted.

The poems were written out on card which was then curved and stapled or stuck into the shape of a clown's hat.
At one week-long workshop the children performed a circus which included the singing of their songs accompanied by a clown band, many amazing tricks, and a final gigantic twenty-a-side custard pie fight!

For further information on this sort of game click on games listed under INVENTION in the INDEX side bar.

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Windows Workshops Dave Calder, The Windows Project ,1997,1998,1999,2009