Onct More's First Circus


4 pages

Onct More's First Circus

| 1901 | Strete, Ireland
Genre (as defined by the author)
Miniature Theatre
Tall Ringmaster, Don Gonzalvas, Countess Castilla, Tuff, Cream, Señora Flora Fina, Man-Who-Has-Eaten-Snake, Spotted Eagle, Green Feather, Onct More, Blue Ringmaster, Ancient Romans, Cowboys, Egyptians, Japanese, Huntsmen, Red Indians, Picadors, Jockeys
Number of acts

Jack B. Yeats wrote a series of toy theatre (also called paper theatre) plays. In "My Miniature Theater" (The Collected Plays of Jack B. Yeats), he explains performing his plays each year during Christmastime to entertain the children of the valley where he lived.

His plays were birthed from the influence of Robert Louis Stevenson and from a nostalgia for a time when successful plays for actors were then adapted to toy theater. The sets, the characters, and an adaptation of the script were sold for one penny (in black and white) or two pence (in colour) so that children could recreate the play at home. Nevertheless, certain scenes from traditional theatre were difficult to adapt to toy theater. Therefore, Yeats, who created his own stories, chose to limit characters that did ‘almost nothing besides talking and walking majestically.’ He highlighted the importance of voice since each character had to be distinguishable by their tone and way of speaking. Regarding the creation of the set and the characters, Yeats glued his scenery to cardboard, using watercolors and Christmas garland as well as candles to provide lighting.

Plot summary

A parade of characters from around the world

Two presenters (Tall Ringmaster and Blue Ringmaster) take turns announcing different acts. A variety of characters enter the scene while two clowns, Tuff and Cream, exchange jokes and riddles.

In the second part, horsemen from around the world and from every era ride in one by one.

Composition date

First performance

Strete, Ireland, 3 January 1901 -

Performed in a school in Strete (UK) where Yeats lived.

Publications and translations


Jack B. Yeats, The Collected Plays of Jack B. Yeats, Robin Skelton (ed.). London, Secker and Warburg, 1971.

Literary tones
Animations techniques
Toy theatre
Young audiences


Theatrical techniques


Written by

Cécile Decaix