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HHS – First High School to Present “Roustabout: The Great Circus Trainwreck!”

Roustabout+Poster
Roustabout Poster

Roustabout Poster

Roustabout Poster

Alexa Mitchell, Contributor

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Commemorating and creating history, the Hobart High School Theatre program will be the very first high school to present the play, Roustabout:  The Great Circus Trainwreck!. Written by Jay Torrence, the Playwright honored Hobart High School by giving them the right to perform his play — the first high school to ever do so as well as the first production for any theater in Indiana.

The play, written and first performed in 2006, works to “weave fact and fiction,” according to Theater Director Cathy Nelson, as it is based on the epic crash of a circus train in Northwest Indiana almost 100 years ago on June 22, 1918. The crash of the Hagenbeck Wallace Circus Train injured more than one hundred and killed 89 performers and “roustabouts” (behind-the-scenes circus workers) that slept soundly in the train cars that night. Many of the circus crew were unable to be identified or had no immediate family and were buried in Woodlawn Cemetery located in Forest Park, Illinois in a section designated “Showman’s Rest.”

As stated by Torrence, his inspiration behind the play was to create “a cheerful eulogy in memory of and in tribute to the Hagenbeck Wallace performers and their lost performance on that fateful day almost 100 years ago just outside of Hammond, Indiana.”

The play is unique in that it is a full ninety minutes without an intermission and works to showcase three distinct styles of acting that illustrate the various structures of the play, “the nonfictional historical truth…the absurd comedic farce…[and] the heartfelt pathos in the dramatic narratives of the historically forgotten performers,” explained Torrence.

He is also planning on being present to view the show on March 5th and will perform a question and answer session afterwards.

Torrence stated that he is “honored to have the Hobart High School Theatre Department share this production, as it is the first production in the state of Indiana-so closely nestled to the origin of the historical story itself.”

According to Mrs. Nelson, the theatre director here at Hobart High School, the show is “fascinating, surprisingly hilarious, and heart wrenching all at once…You will experience every emotion imaginable and leave the theatre wanting to know more.”  

Torrence briefs the audience with a word of advice on how to view the play, “…lean forward with your heart open to the potential laughter, gasps, joy and beauty that is a circus.”

Tickets are available at $8 for adults, $7 for senior citizens, and $6 for students. Due to the intense nature of the performance, it is recommended that audience members be at least 13 years of age or older, unless they are mature and have previous theatre experience. To preserve and foster a relationship with the audience, the show will be limited to approximately 225 seats per performance. Email [email protected] to ensure you save your seat for this one of a kind experience!

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student newspaper of Hobart High School
HHS – First High School to Present “Roustabout: The Great Circus Trainwreck!”