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September 26, 2011

Peru native’s book being staged at Ball State

Full-length musical is based on “The Circus in Winter"

Seven years ago, Cathy Day published her first novel, based on Peru circus stories she grew up hearing from her grandmother.

“The Circus in Winter” was a critical success, garnering nominations for several national awards for the interconnected short stories, each connected to the Greater Porter Circus that wintered in the fictional town of Lima, Ind., based on Day’s hometown of Peru.

Starting Sept. 29, Lima and the Greater Porter Circus will come to life on-stage at Ball State University, as a full-length musical.

Beth Turcotte, a Ball State theater professor who had led the student production, said work began two years ago as a project through the Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry.

She was teaching an immersive learning class, in which students and a professor work together on one project for the entire semester. The professor serves as a resource, while the students do all the work. For a musical, this means the students wrote the script, music and lyrics on their own.

Turcotte said originally the group planned to write a script, but then a student suggested Day’s book would be good source material.

“When I found out Cathy Day was from Peru, and a female author, everything sounded very interesting,” she said.

She talked to a colleague who had taught the book, and then contacted Day to ask permission to use the book.

Day was teaching at University of Pittsburgh, Pa., at the time, and gave the OK to use her book at no cost.

“I went to visit them, and I envisioned they would make something and it would be nice. I didn’t really know what to expect,” Day said.

Turcotte said the original script included much more of the book, but the final version focuses on the first few stories.

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