Reading/Interest Level: Primary, Intermediate, Young Adult
Anthology: International Plays for Young Audiences
Author: Donna Abela
Publisher: Meriwether Publishing Ltd.
Estimated Runtime: 45 minutes
Number of Characters: 20
Cast Requirements: 2 female, 1 male; all play multiple characters throughout
Time Period: Variable - 1960's-present day
Production Requirements: Very simple quick-change costume pieces; simple or complex set with multiple settings; actors trained in stunt work.
“Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, presenting for your delectation and delight. . . Frieda the Fearless Funambulist!” This quite surely new word will grab a young audience’s attention and the masterfully crafted, heartwarming script will hold that attention as audiences journey with Frieda, aka Adele, in this coming of age story. Adele has recently lost her mother and with that her interest in anything other than sitting in front of the television. When an old family friend meets her on the street and invites her to join her duo troupe to become a ‘’funambulist,” (high-wire artist,) her father agrees that this will be the best choice for Adele. Stubborn and rebellious at first, through hard work and time spent with Marichka the funambulist and Geordie the clown as they travel to join the circus, Adele gains confidence in her new abilities and love for her new non-traditional “circus” family. As they journey the trio encounters significant racism and prejudice towards gypsies which Adele, frustrated, learns to deal with. During a final confrontation involving Geordie’s wrongful arrest Adele confidently assumes her place among her new people, helping to secure Geordie’s freedom and the trio’s success.
The script calls for only 3 actors to portray the more than 20 characters present in the script. These character changes are woven seamlessly throughout the dialogue and those changes are part of the charm and energy of the script. Skilled character actors are a must for this production. Racism issues are presented in a meaningful way, portraying the many ways that racism manifests itself and also the varied ways it can be handled. The opportunity to explore these issues in post-show discussions or workshops along with the small cast and flexible set requirements make this an ideal choice for an educational tour.