Elephant's Graveyard in Rehearsal by Barbara Biddison
I was encouraged to sit in on an early rehearsal of this extraordinary
play. I had read it a couple times, so I knew what was coming. I
was also very familiar with George Brant the playwright, who wrote
Into the Breeches which HG produced last year. It's really soon to
catch a rehearsal, but I was very interested in how it sounded and
looked at this point.. It's a large cast, almost all male. Two
females last night, and they held their own quite well. thank you.
Some cast members were still holding a script, but most had lines
pretty well memorized. All had a handle on their characters.. It was
amazingly well done "to page 41 tonight," as Thomas Putnam the
director announced when they began.
Ten individuals on stage at first, And they "come-and-go,
"come-and-go" as the town gathers. As the rehearsal progressed I was
struck by the very strong "feeling" that "something" was going to
happen. Well, you might say, don't you always expect "something" to
happen in a play. Yes, you do, but this was different. And I don't
know how the cast did it. How they conveyed that "something is going
to happen" feeling. For an instant I might think it's because the
circus is coming to town. But then I realized that it was more than
that, and that I would just wait, and watch, and listen. And that is
what the audience will do as they hear lines like, "an elephant is an
elephant " and much later "an elephant is an investment."
Another observation, and I think this has to do with casting. With so
many male voices, it might be hard for the audience to keep track of
who is speaking when many are on stage at the same time and they're
not wearing name tags! "Now is that the tour manager or the marshall
or the engineer?" Well, fortunately the Tour Manager (Gerard Doran)
and the Marshall (Sean Bartlett) and the Engineer (Herb Johnson) have
very different-sounding voices, which helps a whole lot.. And they,
like other cast members, have a very solid presence on stage.
I hope to see another rehearsal or two before this play opens on
September 22, about five weeks from now. Stay tuned......