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42FT Family Activity

42FT is a circus that upends expectations in a dizzying, dazzling array of acts inspired by the 1930s American Circus. In this Family Activity, present your skill, learn about the history of circus and work on creating your very own show!

At Home

The company behind 42FT, Cirque Mechanics, is hard to forget because of its talented troupe of performers who each have a dazzling skill and a memorable character. In this activity, start working on your own performance by practicing your showmanship and your special circus persona!

Materials: Poster worksheet, writing and coloring utensils

Step One: Brainstorm what your special skill is with your friends or family. Maybe you can bend your thumb backward, make a four-leaf clover out of your tongue, say the alphabet backward or sing. Turn to the person sitting next to you to talk through what you think you are best at!

Step Two: After each person has figured out a skill, practice your act using the steps below. Remember, stage presence is key!

  • Make a grand entrance 
  • Perform your trick
  • Strike a pose to mark the end of your trick
  • Bow
  • Exit with a fun flourish

Here are a few members of our staff performing their own tricks.

Step Three: Now that you have perfected your performance, create a show poster with this worksheet to advertise your act! 

  • Print out the worksheet.
  • Think of your circus name and write it in the banner at the top. For example, it could be “[Your Name] the Great!” or “The Incredible [Your Name]!”
  • Draw an image of yourself in the center.
Here’s an example!

Step Four: It is time for each person to show off their skill! Hang the poster you created somewhere where everyone can see it. 

Step Five: Before you perform, select a member of your family to be your ring leader. Have them say “And now presenting…[Your Circus Name]!” After you are announced, perform your skill with the steps we listed above.

  • Make a grand entrance 
  • Perform your trick
  • Strike a pose to mark the end of your trick
  • Bow
  • Exit with a fun flourish

Have everyone take turns performing their trick!

On the way

Cirque Mechanics created 42FT with a unique mechanical interpretation of the historic one-ring circus. They were inspired by the mid-1930s big top. Take a look at this video to learn more about what circus in the 1930s was all about. 

After the Show

Now that you have seen the show, have a conversation guided by these reflection questions:

  • Which act of the circus was your favorite? Why did you like it so much?
  • What were the different mechanical machines used in the show and how were they used?
  • If you could create a circus inspired by a theme, what kind of circus would you create?
  • What else do you know about the 1930s, the decade that inspired the show?

Now that you’ve discussed the questions above, create a theme that could inspire your very own circus!

Step One: First, pick a time period. Here are a few to choose from: 

  • The Stone Age
  • 1800s
  • 1950s
  • 1970s
  • 1980s
  • 1990s 

Step Two: Google a few facts about that time period. What is one thing from that time period that inspires you? For example, if you chose the 1970s, maybe disco inspires you! 

Step Three: Think of your favorite circus acts from 42FT and imagine yourself as the performer. You could also use the skill you practiced performing in the Before the Show activity as your act. 

Step Four: Think of the decade you chose above. How could the theme of the decade you chose influence your act? Use these prompts to help you brainstorm.   

  • What would your costume look like? Use this template to sketch some ideas.
  • Listen to some music from these decades. What was the music like in that decade? How does the sound of the music affect your performance? Do you move slower? Faster? Does the music add drama? 
  • What are some elements of set design that you would want present, inspired by the decade you chose? 

BONUS: If you have a trick or skill that you want to perform from the decade you chose, perform it with your family. Get creative! Add a costume element and play some music from the decade of your choosing.  

And Beyond

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