Cover image by Dylan Sanford and Kaveh Haerian

Carnival Round the Central Figure

Diana Amsterdam
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A wild ride through theatrical terrain that sears the senses and impacts the audience at a visceral place, which also manages to be hilariously funny and heartbreakingly real in the five core scenes of a young woman’s visit to the deathbed of her friend. Her moment of acknowledgment and comfort comes hard in the face of denial, moralizing, insane positive thinking, desperate chit chat, and the existential fears we all harbor about the end moments of life — the great mystery.

Production Info

Cast: 11 total (5 female, 6 male)
Full Length Dark Comedy (about 100 minutes)
Single Set
Contemporary Costumes
Category: Tag:

Press Quotes

“CARNIVAL ROUND THE CENTRAL FIGURE is steeped in the absurd — the man’s face is caked with white makeup, and a menacing nurse sits nearby, holding a needle about three feet long. Yet like much in this clever and confounding meditation on dying, what is unusual can also be affecting. CARNIVAL is a funny and beguiling 100 minutes, aimed at those eager for an experimental look into its themes. In the end the play merely reminds us of the obvious: we’re all destined to die. Yet it’s a message that bears repeating. Such great truths are too often ignored, and are best told with a nervous laugh.” —New York Times

“Comedies don’t come much darker than Diana Amsterdam’s CARNIVAL ROUND THE CENTRAL FIGURE, a hard-core but justified lampooning of the strange etiquette we adhere to when watching loved ones pass away. Amsterdam’s relentless script makes a glib burlesque out of the oblique religious platitudes, idle chitchat, and straight-up dishonesty we typically inflict upon the dying.” —Backstage

“CARNIVAL ROUND THE CENTRAL FIGURE will certainly strike a powerful chord …” —New York Post

About the Author


  • Diana Amsterdam

    Amsterdam's plays have been produced in New York, London, Berlin, Montreal, Los Angeles and many American cities and been reviewed by the New York Times and Washington Post. Full-lengths and one-acts are published by Samuel French, Broadway Play Publishing, Playscripts Inc. and Smith and Kraus.  Her new play THE DODGERS opens on Los Angeles' theater row at the Hudson Theater on January 21, 2016, produced by AKA Studio Productions and directed by Dave Solomon. She is currently writing a commission for Mildred’s Umbrella Theater Company in Houston, TX. She is a New York State Council on the Arts grant recipient and was selected for HBO's Stage to Screen series. She won the BBC American Radio Play Contest leading to three radio play commissions from BBC Radio 4. Her screenplay won 1st Prize in NYWIFT's 25th Anniversary Screenplay Contest. She has optioned screenplays to the BBC, Working Title, and producers Jodie Burke, Dan Lupovitz, Jon Finn, and John E. Ferraro and worked on projects with Marty Bregman, Wendy Oberman (BBC), Susan Seidelman and Eric Styles. Amsterdam maintains an active for-hire writing practice with a full slate of projects that includes a memoir based on the life of porn star Alec Metro, and two new screenplays written for private financiers/producers. Amsterdam is Director of Writer Programs at TRU (Theater Resources Unlimited, Inc.) and a guest lecturer at NYWIFT and NYU Tisch School of the Arts.

About the Book

Book Information

Publisher BPPI
Publication Date 11/4/2011
Pages 50
ISBN 9780881455045

Special Notes

Special Notes

Licensees are required to include the original stage producers credits in the following form on the title page in all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play and in all advertising in which the full cast appears in size of type not less than ten percent (10%) of the size of the title of the Play:

Premiered at IRT Theater, New York

The following must appear within all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play:
Carnival Round the Central Figure is produced
by special arrangement with Broadway Play Publishing Inc, NYC