Jesse Sheehan

Hoops of Fire - Musical/ Rock Opera

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Hoops of Fire is a sci-fi play/musical/rock opera set about 1000 years in the future on a colonized Mars - after the earth has become uninhabitable.

It deals with 5 central characters: Adonis, Melody, Mattias, The Circus Master, and 'Character 5'. None of these characters are aware of where they are. They have no concept of the universe or of their having been an earth. They only know their small indoor world of super advanced technology that provides them everything they want/need/desire. The true history of destruction upon earth has been rewritten. The colonizers of Mars believed that earth's destruction was due to humankind's innate restlessness and its desire to change, progress and conquer. They reasoned that people work better in smaller, insular communities with simpler ideas, aspirations and lives. Because of this, many different 'worlds' have been set up all over Mars that have no idea of each other's existence.

In the particular 'world' (among 'worlds') that our 5 central characters inhabit, 'coming of age' means earning one's place as part of an extravagant circus production, named 'The Hoops of Fire'. The show is performed daily in front of an audience of 'sad people'. 'Sad people' look just like current inhabitants of planet earth - i.e., they wear clothes and they have hair on their heads. In stark contrast, all characters in the play are naked and hairless. Neither clothes nor hair have been deemed necessary, given the perfectly temperate climate they live in. The characters are human but not quite familiar; you can see an example of how this will look from this video (

There is a feeling that although we are in the future, we are looking at some very primal early beginning of humanity, some timeless part of our being. In this world every human need is indulged through technology. There is a 'love room', an 'adventure room', a 'health room', etc. The role of the Circus is to fulfil another very human need: a sense of meaning and purpose. The 'sad people' are not from any outside world; they are deformed people chosen from birth to keep the illusion of a purpose going. They are lifeless creatures who can only clap and babble. There will be actors positioned within the live audience playing the 'sad people'. Halfway through the show there is a scene where a 'sad person' is pulled out from their seat onto the stage. This is the scene where the illusion is revealed, and the realisation dawns that the entire circus is a redundant act, performed for no one, serving no real purpose other than to keep on going, generation after generation.

The story within this world is a simple one. The main character Adonis is the star of the circus, muscular and handsome, loved by everybody. He has believed his whole life that his father, who was the star of the circus in his time, had died performing the most daring and dangerous trick 'The Hoops of Fire.' On discovering his mother's journal however, he learns that father didn't die, he escaped. This shock realisation sparks Adonis's determination to find out the truth. He has two sidekicks, his girlfriend/love interest Melody, and his best friend Mattias.

Although the context of the story is dark this is actually a hopeful play. In the same way that Cormac McCarthy's The Road is more about the unconditional devotion of a father to his son than it is about life post apocalypse, and the 'new world' setting of Vonnegut's Sirens of Titan, enables us to examine and reflect more clearly upon human concepts and concerns, the purpose of this work is to examine our present day concerns through viewing them through a world that is both familiar and unfamiliar. Such as the idea of coming of age. What does it mean to come of age? Is there one single truth that we all rise into? In this world every character is bestowed the same coming of age by the circus master, but their true coming of age happens on their own, in different ways. The mysterious character 5 is the one to break the illusion of the world they're in, and by doing so shatters the dream world for everyone else. From a western liberal perspective Character 5's assertion of truth is noble, courageous, the 'right' thing to do. It is 'his coming of age.' However from a more pragmatic point of view he was careless and arrogant with the lives and perspectives of others. Up until that moment the characters within this world lived lives of total abundance. What is the use of truth and freedom to them? Do the concepts of truth and freedom hold any credence by themselves? This play asks a lot of questions in the hope of starting conversation and challenging accepted paradigms. To the question of what does it mean to 'come of age' there is no single answer expressed in the play. It is shown through the lives of the characters that coming of age is always complex and personal, just as all truths are personal, experienced solely within a person's own consciousness.

The money you're helping me raise is going towards finishing the book and the scores in the month of October - in a space in St Erme ( . While there I will work 9am-5 pm Monday to Friday exclusively on this project with my producer Naadirah Qaazi (BBC 100 women of the year) and a playwright (who is yet to be chosen - though there are currently a couple of contenders). 

This will cost 1800 Euros, with the exchange rate at the moment this is $2868 NZ dollars. 

Whether you donate or not thank you very much for taking the time to read my pitch. Much love and gratitude x