Agnes Under the Big Top, a tall tale- by Aditi Brennan Kapil

Synopsis: A magical tale of intersecting immigrant lives, narrated by an itinerant busker.

The circus comes to town in Aditi Brennan Kapil’s new play, a funny and powerful adventure imagining the intersecting lives of immigrants in a U.S. city.

Against the subterranean rhythms of a subway train, an itinerant subway busker, a Liberian home care worker, a former Bulgarian ringmaster and his wife, and an Indian call center escapee find and redefine themselves in today’s America.

Setting: A city in the US
Time Period: Today

Cast Size: 3M, 3F

ELLA American, white. A rheumatoid, bedridden woman. She is deformed and wooden, her fingers trapped in claws. Prematurely aged.

AGNES Liberian immigrant, 30s, Ella’s home care worker. Tough and funny.

ROZA Bulgarian immigrant, 40s, speaks Bulgarian, Ella’s home care worker.Silent except when addressing birds.

SHIPKOV Bulgarian immigrant, 40s, Roza’s husband, drives a subway train. Former ringmaster.

HAPPY Indian, 20s, recently immigrated con artist, training as subway driver. Smiles a lot.

BUSKER Plays an instrument on the subway platform, is all other voices/voiceovers, moves freely through time and space

Design Needs: A bed, a subway train, a window

This Play is: Unpublished

Production History:

Commissioned by Mixed Blood Theatre, Minneapolis, MN

Agnes Under the Big Top was selected as a NEA Distinguished New Play Development Project as part of the NEA New Play Development Program, hosted by Arena Stage.

The play was developed through a consortium led by The Lark Play Development Center (New York City) and includes Rhodopi International Theatre Lab (Smolyan, Bulgaria), Interact Theatre (Philadelphia), and Mixed Blood Theatre Company (Minneapolis).

Aditi Kapil and Liz Engelman (dramaturg) are participants in the TCG/ITI Travel Grants program, funded by the Trust for Mutual Understanding and administered by Theatre Communications Group, the national organization for the American theatre.

The play is slated to premiere in a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere at Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis (Feb 2011), Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven (March 2011), and Borderlands Theatre in Tucson (January 2012)

Dramaturg: Liz Engelman

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