Co-Created and Produced by Mehari "Bibi" Tesfamariam
Co-Created and Directed by Binyam "Bichu" Tesfamariam
Written by Cal McCrystal
Choreography by Kate Smyth
Best enjoyed by all ages.
Lap passes will be available for children 3 years of age and younger.
Run time: 110 minutes, including one intermission. Run time and other details are subject to change during rehearsal process.
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.
Things to Know About the Show
- This show features Ethiopian music and is primarily non-verbal; very little English is used.
- Audience cheering is encouraged in this production to add to the circus atmosphere!
- CTC has never featured a show with this level of athleticism and acrobatics. Professional acrobats will be performing stunts on our stage; while it might be nerve-wracking, not to worry—they are trained professionals!
Bibi and Bichu Tesfamariam
Bibi and Bichu grew up dreaming of joining the circus, but no circuses ever rolled into town, only rumors and televised glimpses from lands overseas. Self-taught and determined, they came to England as teenagers and met with more success than they ever dared hope for. Throughout their long careers, they’ve been providing circus schools in Ethiopia, like Circus Wingate and Bita Brothers, with much-needed funding and support. At these schools they discovered the incredible acrobats who now form the cast of Circus Abyssinia: artists who started like they did, performing on city streets with no expectation of pay.
“Alemayehu” means “to have seen the world” and this young acrobat is living up to his name. He plays Bichu’s younger self in Circus Abyssinia and has performed in Europe, America, Asia, and Australia, even gaining a spot on the U.K.’s Royal Variety Performance just months after the show’s debut.
Ezera plays Little Bibi in Circus Abyssinia. In 2012, he joined the Circus Wingate School with Alemayehu, who plays his brother onstage and is his best friend offstage. Ezera has been with Circus Abyssinia since its debut, and Bibi and Bichu are training him to juggle just like they do.
Semeret joined Circus Wingate in 2008 after word reached her of its classes for would-be acrobats. She has been touring with Circus Abyssinia since its debut. She performs as part of a quartet of cloth-spinners and contortionists, and in a dual contortion act in the show called the “Duo Contortion.”
Etsegenet joined Circus Wingate as a nine-year-old; a self-confessed “troublemaker,” she was enrolled by her parents to keep her out of mischief! Now one of the most disciplined members of the cast, she is a four-time gymnastics champion in Ethiopia and has enlisted these skills to perform extraordinary feats of contortion in Circus Abyssinia.
Helen trained for years at Circus Wingate, but with no opportunity for paid work. It wasn’t until Bibi and Bichu invited her to join the cast of Circus Abyssinia that she began performing publicly. Helen has since performed feats of cloth-spinning and contortion around the world—from Asia to Australia to New York.
Betty joined Circus Wingate when she was 10 years old after passing by the school and spotting its students forming seemingly impossible human pyramids on the training ground. She has toured with Circus Abyssinia since its inception and has performed her extraordinary contortion and cloth-spinning acts in Europe, Asia, Australia, and the U.S.
Danny was a street performer before joining Circus Wingate when it was opened by Solomon Tadese in 2005. He also honed his clowning skills working as a weyala (a taxi driver’s helper). Competing with other weyala to attract taxi passengers in Ethiopia’s capital city is very much performance art.
Befekadu is the rock of the cast, with an eagle eye for the safety of his acrobatic brethren. Having started as a street performer in Addis Ababa, he joined Circus Wingate when it opened and now trains the younger students. He has been with Circus Abyssinia since its 2017 debut.
While working as a weyala in Ethiopia, Abraham met Kibrom “Bita” Samuel, who would go on to create Bita Brothers Circus School. Fascinated by Bita’s tales of circuses overseas, Abraham jumped to join his school as soon as it opened. His first professional job was with Circus Abyssinia in 2018.
Tesfamichael joined Bita Brothers Circus when it opened and trained in the disciplines of hoop-diving and Chinese pole for nearly a decade. He was asked to join Circus Abyssinia when Bichu saw him perform during a visit to Ethiopia and made his professional debut at Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2018.
Tarekegn joined the Bita Brothers Circus School in 2008 and, like many circus artists in Ethiopia, trained for years without paid opportunity to perform publicly. He was cast in Circus Abyssinia in the summer of 2018 and now performs in the hand-vaulting, hoop-diving, and Chinese pole acts of the show.
Abraham trained at Bita Brothers Circus from 2010 – 2018, often visiting schools in Ethiopia to entertain children with his circus skills. His first professional opportunity came with Circus Abyssinia in 2018, and he has since performed Chinese pole and hoop-diving around the world, from France to Australia to Japan.
Ermiyas joined Bita Brothers Circus School in 2010 and was cast in Circus Abyssinia in 2018. His first time performing professionally was at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and he has since toured with the show in Europe, Asia, and Australia, from the WOMAD Festival to the Fuji Rock Festival.
Endalkachew discovered his passion for the physical arts as a child and used to perform street circus for the crowds at the market near his village. He joined Bita Brothers Circus School in 2012 and his first professional opportunity came when Bibi and Bichu invited him to join Circus Abyssinia in 2018.
Hanna is one of the newest members of the cast of Circus Abyssinia. She joined Circus Wingate when she was just 11 years old and now coaches the students, while also working as a judge for the Addis Ababa Gymnastics Federation during state and national gymnastics competitions.
Hailekiros joined Circus Wingate in 2005 and specializes in Icarian Games, a stunning combination of acrobatics and human foot-juggling. Hailekiros has performed with his young stage partner, Filmon Haregot, at festivals in Germany, Austria, and Turkey. His first time performing with Circus Abyssinia will be at Children’s Theatre Company.
Filmon joined Circus Wingate in 2013. His signature act is Icarian Games, which he has performed in Europe, the Middle East, and at schools throughout Ethiopia’s capital city. His first tour with Circus Abyssinia is at Children’s Theatre Company, followed by a tour of France in 2020.
Peter C. Brosius
Peter has served as Artistic Director of CTC since 1997, directing the world premieres of Dr. Seuss’s The Sneetches The Musical; The Last Firefly; Seedfolks; Animal Dance; and many others, all of which were commissioned and workshopped by CTC. Previously, he was the Artistic Director of the Honolulu Theatre for Youth and the Improvisational Theatre Project at the Mark Taper Forum.
Kimberly has served as Managing Director at CTC since 2016. Previously, she served as the Managing Director at Theater Latté Da, Executive Director at the Cowles Center, Development Director at Arena Stage, and Program Manager at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She is currently on the board of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, and a member of the Minnesota Women’s Economic Roundtable and the Women Presidents’ Organization.
Mehari “Bibi” Tesfamariam
Bibi has juggled with Bichu in thousands of shows, from the Fuji Rock Festival to the Olivier Award-winning opera Akhnaten. For years, the brothers have also been funding circus schools in Ethiopia. In 2017, they were cast in Tim Burton’s Dumbo and used their wages from filming to launch Circus Abyssinia.
Binyam “Bichu” Tesfamariam
As Bichu’s circus dreams came true, they also began to change. Thinking of the many would-be acrobats clamoring for an opportunity back in Ethiopia fueled his desire to create a bona fide
Ethiopian circus. Bichu’s experience as an artist and choreographer enabled him to fuse Ethiopia’s musical and artistic heritage with the arts of circus to create Circus Abyssinia.
Dubbed “Britain’s funniest director,” Cal’s prolific career includes the Broadway hits One Man, Two Guvnors; School of Rock; and the acclaimed revival of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe. Cal not only wrote the dialogue for Circus Abyssinia, but is a mentor to the cast. The show is deeply indebted to his comedic vision.
Kate Smyth is a dancer and choreographer who has held the role of Can-Can soloist for the Bal du Moulin Rouge in Paris, performed at Frank Sinatra’s 80th birthday celebration in Los Angeles, and choreographed productions for Cirque d’Hiver in Paris, Circus Roncalli in Germany, and Giffords Circus in England.
Gaby met Bibi and Bichu in 2017 while tutoring the youngest members of the Circus Abyssinia troupe. She fell in love with their story and their vision of an Ethiopian circus, so she started working with the brothers to launch their company and produce Circus Abyssinia—first in the U.K., now around the world.
Elshaday is the cast’s tour manager, organizing the logistics of travel and taking care of the cast while on the road. With a background in computer programming and a talent for graphic design, Elshaday plays a part in the creation of the company’s artwork and digital publicity.
Mark Whatmough has worked as the lighting designer for Circus Abyssinia since the show's 2017 debut. He single-handedly conceived a design that renders in light, color, and shadow the story and the dreams that weave their way through the music and acrobatics of the show. When he is not traveling internationally with Circus Abyssinia, Mark is busy designing for theatre productions, major award shows, fringe venues, and music concerts across the U.K. and around the world.
Bibi and Bichu dream of joining the circus. Each night when the boys fall asleep, the man in the moon makes their dream come alive.
Bibi and Bichu are juggling back and forth in their bedroom. Every night, they make plans to run away with the circus. The boys fall asleep and the man in the moon makes their dream come alive.
The company fills the space with dance and circus tricks. Bibi and Bichu are thrown into the air by the ensemble and perform a variety of jumps and flips including an act where performers standing on top of each other.
The ensemble leaves and two contortionists take the stage. They twist their bodies into unbelievable shapes. Then, two jugglers arrive. They start by juggling three balls each, but increase up to five each.
Five women join and perform scarf juggling. They spin the scarfs on their hands and feet while dancing and performing acrobatic feats.
A man and woman join the stage and dance while performing a variety of lifts and acrobatics. It is clear they are in love. Young Bibi and Bichu kick them offstage and show off their juggling skills. They are quickly joined by Adult Bibi and Bichu who kick the boys offstage and show everyone how it is really done. They juggle clubs between them. The boys rejoin and the four juggle together.
The moon lights up and we see four women shadow dance, perform contortions, and acrobatics. They return to the moon.
The ensemble finishes by performing acrobatic tricks on large poles and dancing.
Concessions items can be pre-ordered for the intermission of your performance by visiting the Concessions Stand during pre-show of your performance.
The Concessions Stand opens one hour prior to the start of the performance and will remain open until 15 minutes after the performance concludes.
We are proud to offer a selection of snacks that are gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, Halal-friendly, and Kosher-friendly. Please ask our welcoming staff if you have any dietary concerns.
For our adult patrons, we are delighted to offer premium wines and a selection from local breweries to help celebrate the wonder and magic of theatre and a night on the town.
Beer and Wine can only be purchased by an adult over the age of 21 with a valid government issued ID. We will sell one drink per adult with valid ID at a time and a maximum of two drinks per adult with valid ID per performance. Beer and Wine will be available for sale to patrons attending the current performance at Children's Theatre Company when the Concessions Stand open for pre-show sales and will cease approximately 30 minutes prior to the end of the performance.