True Tale of the Unlikely Fate of an Errant Circus Elephant
Playwright George Brant Visits for Post-Performance Talk-Back on January 13
Link to Photos: https://lca.sharefile.com/d/s91bb6fa1d4047708
Photo caption 1: Adam Hyndman ’12 as the Preacher in Elephants Graveyard
Photo credit 1: James G. Cole
Photo caption 2: Poster from the Sparks World Famous Shows c. 1916 including Mary the Elephant, Largest Land Mammal on Earth and the subject of Elephant’s Graveyard
(Princeton, NJ) The Lewis Center for the Arts will present Elephant’s Graveyard by award-winning playwright George Brant, a senior thesis production directed by Christopher Ghaffari ‘12. Performances will be held on January 11 through 14 at 8:00 p.m. in the Marie and Edward Matthews '53 Acting Studio at 185 Nassau Street at Princeton University.
It is September 1916, and the Sparks World Famous Shows visits quiet, backwater Erwin in eastern Tennessee with their star, Mary the elephant, billed as the “Largest Land Animal on Earth.” Relating actual historical events combined with legend, fifteen characters share the jubilation and wonder of the circus, and the story of a parade gone horribly wrong. In a poetic, chilling story Elephant’s Graveyard questions how good people can, if only for a moment, turn into monsters, and how human thirst for spectacle can cause utter destruction.
“This is an arresting piece of theater for both the actor and audience,” states Ghaffari. “Brant uses a compelling, direct address mode. Characters must decide to engage with the audience – ‘to speak or not to speak’ – and there is something very vulnerable, immediate, and truthful in that.” He adds, “We’re as interested in the actual storytelling event as the narrative itself. This storytelling aspect, along with Mary the elephant, is the spirit of the piece and one that audiences, I hope, will find challenging.”
Elephant’s Graveyard premiered in 2007. In reviewing the original production the Austin (TX) Chronicle noted, “Brant's writing is vivid…and like the juggling joey…he keeps all the balls in the air. His approach transforms the story into an oral history with constantly shifting perspectives that show us anew how perceptions of an event can differ and speak to the nature of communal experience and community itself.” Playwright George Brant is a recipient of the Keene Prize for Literature and the David Mark Cohen National Playwriting Award.
Brant will engage in a post-performance discussion along with Princeton Theater faculty member Stacy Wolf on Friday, January 13. Earlier in the day Brant will hold a session with the cast and crew to talk about the production and his process of creating the piece.
The cast of Elephant’s Graveyard features Princeton undergraduates Lindsay Rose Aguero-Sinclair ’13, Alexandra Baptiste ’13, Ben Barron ’13, David Drew ’14, Sean Drohan ’13, Arjun Dube ’15, Alec Egan ’13, Maeli Goren ’15, Adam Hyndman ’12, Adam Mastroianni ’14, Katie McGunagle ’14, Jake Robertson ’15, Chris St. John ’14, Carolyn Vasko ’13, and Mark Watter ’14, along with crew members Liliana Aslandiou ’12, Tori Cadiz ’13, Lily Gold ’14, and Alex Mannix ‘12. Ghaffari and most of the cast and crew are certificate students in the Program in Theater at the Lewis Center.
Tickets for Elephant’s Graveyard are $10 for students and seniors and $12 general admission and may be reserved through Princeton University Ticket Office by calling 609.258.9220, or at any of the campus ticket offices. Tickets are also available at each performance.
The Lewis Center’s Program in Theater annually presents a major, professionally produced play in the fall, as well as a number of student senior thesis productions throughout the year.
The Lewis Center for the Arts is part of a major initiative announced by President Shirley M. Tilghman in 2006 to fully embrace the arts as an essential part of the educational experience for all who study and teach at Princeton University. The Lewis Center for the Arts will have a significant impact on the University and the larger community it serves. The public is welcomed to a wide range of lectures, exhibitions, concerts and performances at the Center. Many of the Center’s events are free or charge a nominal admission fee. For more information about the Lewis Center for the Arts visit www.princeton.edu/arts.