Circus Minimus at the Edcomb Barn; Tuesday, July 9, 6 p.m. Family-friendly! For more information and to purchase tickets, visit



Phantom Theater presents family-friendly circus show

Phantom Theater presents Circus Minimus, Kevin O’Keefe’s one-man circus-in-a-suitcase, to the Edgcomb Barn in Warren on Tuesday, July 9, at 6 p.m.

As a child, O’Keefe played sports and acted in theater before discovering circus: “Circus was combining both of those things in one,” he noted. After picking up a degree in theater at SUNY Binghamton, he went back to New York City to study with juggler and educator, Hovey Burgess. Later he moved to San Francisco to learn trapeze. “The first half of my life was spent developing the technical skills,” O’Keefe said.

It all began in 1985 with an abandoned suitcase found outside the door of O’Keefe’s New York City apartment. He started packing props in it and busking on sidewalks, a baptism by fire for any performer. “New Yorkers are famously without time or tolerance of others,” O’Keefe said. “It’s a challenge with the buses and traffic and no amplification.”

In time, the act solidified into something very special.

“Over the years, I’ve had like five different versions of the man with the small suitcase. It wasn’t until the fourth or fifth versions that the tent was packed in the suitcase.”

That’s right. There’s a tent in the suitcase. A big circus tent.

For more than two decades he’s pulled it out along with an array of costumes and gear delighting audiences in schools, community centers and theaters the world over. 

“Every show is literally different because there are any number of new audience members who come up and partner with me,” said O’Keefe. “The joy that I get comes from giving kids just enough structure so they feel supported but also enough freedom that they can show their own gifts. We’re inventing in real time.”

O’Keefe believes that circus performance is much more than entertainment. He’s seen it transform the lives of young people, extolling its ability to teach skills like “standing up in front of an audience, learning how to speak and how to present, how to collaborate with a bunch of people.” He noted, “If you learn how to ride a unicycle, you know something about perseverance.”

He is excited to come back to the Mad River Valley where he has previously done artist residencies at local elementary schools. He’s also looking forward to being back in the arn: “With its intimacy and magic, Phantom is a jewel in the middle of the Green Mountains,” he said.

Circus Minimus at the Edcomb Barn; Tuesday, July 9, 6pm. Family friendly! For more information and to purchase tickets, visit