Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams – Review & Parental Guidance

Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams

On the bus ride to Children’s Theatre Company to see Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams I began to worry about how I my squirrelly 7-year-old was going make it through a nearly-2-hour production. He was firing questions, philosophies and general observations at me faster than I could keep up and I was constantly reminding him to stay seated on the bus. Even with CTC’s relaxed atmosphere, I don’t want to have to spend the whole show reminding my children to respect other audience members. I was ready to make a call to leave or use the quiet room at intermission if necessary. Luckily, this show is the ideal show for the most fidgety kids. While it’s not exactly an “audience participation” show, cheering is encouraged and most of the time the music was loud enough to drown out his non-stop talking. More importantly, he was rapt from the moment it started to the very end. While he certainly exclaimed over the feats and theorized how they did them, I never once heard “how much longer?”

Photos by David Rubene Photography and courtesy Children’s Theatre Company.

10 Things Parents Should Know About Circus Abyssinia

The plot of this show centers around two boys — Bibi and Bichu — who dream of running away to join the circus. They are introduced the first scene and the rest of the show is their shared dream of being in the circus. Each night when the boys fall asleep, the man in the moon makes their dream come alive. The plot is loosely based on the real life Bibi and Bichu Tesfamariam who you can learn more about in the cast bios. It isn’t really a story though. It is a circus performance closer to what you would expect to see more at Circus Juventas than Children’s Theatre.

  1. This is a great show for energetic kids, but not in the same way as preschool productions. CTC often offers shows for smaller kids that incorporate their developmental level and allows for some wandering and audience participation. This is not that; it is an all ages show. While kids can’t wander up to the stage, cheering is encouraged to create a circus atmosphere. Most of the time, a little talking will be covered by the music. The small amount of time where quiet is appreciated was doable even for my chatterbox.
  2. If you have a child who loves watching parkour on YouTube, they will love this show! 
  3. Your kid may want to join the circus when this is over. Mine does. If you want to prepare for this enthusiasm ahead of time so you don’t lose the momentum, you may want to gather your hula hoops, balls for juggling and jump rope to pull out as soon as you get home.
  4. Grab a program as you walk in because it has a list of books to extend the experience after you go home, ideas for creating your own circus and discussion questions for the ride home. I love that!
  5. You can also download the Audience Resource Guide, which offers even more fun at home, including crafts, a recipe, and directions for making your own mancala game.
  6. Schedule your visit when the MIA is open and you can visit the African Art Gallery (Gallery 254) to see some Ethiopian art. We learned from a sign in CTC’s lobby that Ethiopia was the first African nation to adopt Christianity more than 1600 years ago. You’ll see this influence in the art on display at the MIA and, if you watch carefully, you’ll notice it during the performance.
  7. This show features Ethiopian music. It is really fun, high-energy music. If you want to bring it home, you can find all of it in the program or in this Off Books article. I also found a Circus Abyssinia playlist on Spotify.
  8. There are some bright flashing lights – mainly at the very beginning. This is something that sometimes causes migraines for me, but I only noticed it during the first five minutes and it wasn’t long enough to have an adverse effect. 
  9. The show is mainly non-verbal which is why it will be as appealing to the little kids as to adults. There is no heavy dialogue to follow just action.
  10. CTC now allows you to bring drinks into the theater and serves adult beverages for those over 21. This actually started last year during the Grinch, but I only noticed it this time. Because this show is equally entertaining for adults and children, it would make a good extended family outing. Maybe you can entice some single adults with the offer to buy them a beer!

Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams Trailer

Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams Trailer from CircusAbyssinia on Vimeo.

About Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams

A whole new kind of circus is coming to town! The rhythm of Ethiopia comes alive as this internationally acclaimed, dream-filled adventure makes its daring Minneapolis debut. Jaws will drop as one amazing feat after another defies gravity and awakens possibility; oh, to be part of the spectacle! It’s an incredible range of high-flying hilarity, hula hooping, death-defying tricks, and ridiculously joy-filled juggling with the music and movement of East Africa.

“One of the things I love most about theatre is re-imagining what theatre means, especially on our own stage,” states CTC Artistic Director, Peter C. Brosius. “And while the Twin Cities is a large hub for circus training and performance, Circus Abyssinia will be the very first circus piece to play on our stage. What I loved most when I saw this piece at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe was the pure joy, virtuosity, and expression by these acrobats. Their incredible skill and heroic acts are both extraordinary and deeply human, and we know will leave anyone who sees them in awe.”

“We’re over the moon to be bringing Circus Abyssinia to the CTC,” stated performer/director Binyam “Bichu” Tesfamariam. “It’s going to be an absolute privilege to perform at such an extraordinary theatre, one so perfect for kids and their families. And we can’t wait to come to the brilliant city of Minneapolis!”

September 17, 2019-October 20, 2019

Parental Guidance

This show is appropriately labeled as “All Ages”. While the room does get very dark occasionally and there are sometimes flashing lights, there is nothing overtly scary or inappropriate for smaller kids. I would definitely take the whole family. Don’t forget that CTC offers a “quiet room” for those who need it.

Final Thoughts 

Photos by David Rubene Photography
Photos by David Rubene Photography

This was a really fun outing for my seven-year-old and I. If you hesitate to do theater with a high-energy child, this is a good opportunity to introduce it. I’ve learned that good experiences build on themselves. The more often a kid enjoys a production, the more willing they are to give the next one a real chance and eventually they get better at sitting still and quiet.

Family Fun Twin Cities received two tickets to facilitate our review.


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