Elephant's Graveyard (One-Act Version)

by  George Brant

Short Play, Drama  /  10m, 3f

Winner! 2008 Keene Prize for Literature
Winner! 2008 David Mark Cohen National Playwriting Award
"The script is, like the best art, microscopically specific with echoes that radiate outward across time. Elephant's Graveyard buzzes with truth about the consequences of misunderstanding, the invisible but enormous gap between artists and their audiences, and the infernal beauty of vaudeville." - The Stranger, Seattle

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Elephant's Graveyard (One-Act Version)

by  George Brant

License Estimator

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    10m, 3f
  • Duration

    Duration

    40 minutes
  • SubGenre

    Subgenre

    Fables/Folktales, Period, Docudrama/Historic
  • Accolades

    Accolades

    KCACTF: Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival New Play
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult
    • Senior
    • Pre-Teen (Age 11 - 13)
    • Teen (Age 14 - 18)

Additional Info

Elephant's Graveyard is the true tale of the tragic collision of a struggling circus and a tiny town in Tennessee, which resulted in the only known lynching of an elephant. Set in September of 1916, the play combines historical fact and legend, exploring the deep-seated American craving for spectacle, violence, and revenge. This abridged version, which runs about 40 minutes in length, is perfect for high schools looking to perform the play at theatre competitions, or for producers looking for a shorter version of the original script. Adapted by the author, it maintains the haunting drama of the award-winning full-length play.
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Accolades

  • Winner! 2008 Keene Prize for Literature
    Winner! 2008 David Mark Cohen National Playwriting Award

Reviews

"The script is, like the best art, microscopically specific with echoes that radiate outward across time. Elephant's Graveyard buzzes with truth about the consequences of misunderstanding, the invisible but enormous gap between artists and their audiences, and the infernal beauty of vaudeville." - The Stranger, Seattle

"A theatrical masterpiece." – Columbia City Paper

"The most striking production in the (NSDF) festival." – Times of London

"Deeply moving...has the audience in stitches at the open and tears at the close." – TheSunCoast.com

Considerations

Performing Groups

  • High School/Secondary

Cautions

  • Caution Alcohol Alcohol
  • Caution Mild Adult Mild Adult Themes

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $75 per performance

Production

Details

  • Time Period: 1910s / WWI
  • Duration: 40 minutes
  • Setting: The set may be an empty stage or an abstract collision of the worlds of the circus, town and railroad. This collision need not be pretty.
  • Additional Features: No intermission, Physical Comedy, Play w/ Music
  • Features / Contains: Period Costumes

Music

  • Musical Style: N/A (Not a musical)

Casting

10m, 3f

The Circus
RINGMASTER – obsessed with the bottom line
TRAINER – loves his work
BALLET GIRL – a showgirl in control
TOUR MANAGER – bit of a bully
STRONGMAN – a proud muscleman from Europe’s far-off shores
CLOWN – a comedian with an inferiority complex
DRUMMER – keeps the beat

The Town
HUNGRY TOWNSPERSON – African-American, a steel-trap memory
MARSHAL – keeps the peace
MUDDY TOWNSPERSON – a haunted widow
PREACHER – doggedly hopeful
STEAM SHOVEL OPERATOR – looking for escape
YOUNG TOWNSPERSON – excitable dreamer
GUITARIST/HARMONICA PLAYER – sets the rhythm

The Railroad
ENGINEER – confident Time is on his side

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Cast Attributes

  • Ensemble cast
  • Non-Traditional casting
  • Cross gender casting
  • Expandable casting
  • Flexible casting
  • Multicultural casting
  • Roles for Children
  • Room for Extras

Casting Notes

Non-speaking musicians may be added to the production, particularly a Drummer and Guitarist. Roles may be played by any race or gender except when specified.

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Authors

George Brant

George Brant’s plays include Grounded, Marie and Rosetta, Elephant’s Graveyard, The Mourners’ Bench, Into the Breeches!, Any Other Name, Salvage, Grizzly Mama, Three Voyages of the Lobotomobile, and Dark Room. An Affiliate Writer at the Playwrights' Center, his scripts have been produced internationally by the Public T ...

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Elephant's Graveyard was first produced by the University of Texas at Austin at the Oscar Brockett Theatre in Austin, Texas on November 16, 2007. The performance was directed by Laura Kepley, with sets by Szu-Feng Chen, costumes by Jan McCauley,

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