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Theater III Show: Elephant’s Graveyard

Graphic Courtesy: WSH Theater Department
Graphic Courtesy: WSH Theater Department

  Theater three, or advanced theater, opened their show “Elephant’s Graveyard”, based on a true story in 1916, on Thursday, Dec. 14. The show begins with the cast singing “Lift It”, a song originally composed for the show by Erich Wangeman and David Husser. The cast comes out singing the song while moving set pieces to represent the ever-traveling Sparks’s Circus.

  The circus features an interesting crew of misfits, between Talmage Holt the comedic clown, the Ballet girl Bella Romzek, to Caleb Mink the Russian strongman. Spark, the ringmaster, decides to invest in an elephant named Mary. 

  The circus moves from town to town and soon the man with red hair is introduced. He is an ominous character who is obsessed with Mary the elephant and upon seeing her, desperately wants any job that has to do with her. He becomes a low-level poop scooper and Shorty, the elephant caretaker, expresses her suspicious feelings towards Red.

  As the traveling circus continues to move on it eventually reaches the town of Erwin, home to many more loveable characters. Spark expresses to the audience that the town of Erwin means big money and continues to repeat the phrase “An elephant is an investment.” The townspeople couldn’t be more excited. From the children to the town drunk everyone has big plans for the next day when the circus will open.

  Before the parade, the ringmaster makes a last-minute decision to let Red ride Mary during the parade instead of Shorty. Then tragedy strikes when during the parade on mainstreet Mary begins to go out of her way for some melon. Red brings a metal hook down to whip Mary and it hits her right on the tusk. 

  Mary reaches up onto her back, pulls Red down, and flings him to the ground. She proceeds to bring her right foot up and swiftly brings it back down crushing his skull with a crack. For a minute there’s silence on stage, broken with a soul-shaking scream from Gwen Rigda the little girl from the town. The townspeople fall into mayhem and the only thoughts on their mind are revenge. Over and over they repeat “an eye for an eye.” 

  However, the show must go on. Sparks Circus still goes on to open the circus the next day but the people watching aren’t there for the attractions. They are there for revenge and a killing. 

  The circus members go out to perform and desperately try to show that the elephant is not dangerous and that it was Red’s fault. Despite their efforts, this is meaningless to the bloodthirsty people of Erwin. Many of the townspeople have sickening speeches describing their lust for a gruesome end to the innocent elephant’s life. They decide the only “just” course of action would be to hang it.

  The night before the hanging the reprise of “Lift It” is sung in an emotional moment for the circus members as they realize the inevitability of the next day. Each member of the circus proceeds to say goodbye to Mary and they all fall asleep dreading the following day.

  It’s the next morning and all of the town is waiting by the crane they plan to use to hoist up the elephant. The people of the town (minus the preacher) are excited and eager. They lick their lips in anticipation of the killing like it’s Christmas morning sending horrified chills down the audience’s spines. 

  They bring Mary forward and Shorty is forced to wrap a chain around her neck. She pats Mary’s head one last time and falls back into the audience awaiting the horrible event. As Mary is lifted by the crane they realize in all the chaos they forgot to unhook her from the train track. Mary is lifted and twisted into an unnatural shape before her leg breaks.

  Before she could be ripped apart the chain around her neck snapped and she went plummeting to the ground. Mary lays on the ground moaning in pain and the townspeople only watch more intently. Shorty runs back up, ties another chain around her neck and Mary is lifted back up to be finished off. 

  Nearly all of the cast then goes on to have finishing speeches, some emotional and heartfelt for the loss of the great elephant and others sickly lamenting the ”victory.” Finally, it comes to the clown who makes several jokes without punchlines such as “Why did the elephant quit the circus?” And “How do ya make an elephant disappear?” The clown goes to the side, opens up a box and begins shoveling dirt from the box right onto the stage without a word. Each shovelful of dirt packed a bigger lump in the audience’s throat. 

  Then it is Spark’s turn, and at the end of his speech he repeats the phrase: “An elephant is an investment.” This time slow, quiet, and broken. The lights on the stage faded to black and for 10 seconds, then 20, and then thirty no one spoke, no one moved, and no one in the audience clapped. It was uninterrupted silence, forcing the audience to sit in the guilt and discomfort of the horror that just unfolded before them. 

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William Collins, Section Editor, Social Media Specialist
William Collins is a sophomore in his second year of newspaper. He loves to read and write so he is trying to improve on those skills. Out of school Will loves to sing and involve himself in performing arts. 

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