Elephant’s Graveyard – Fereshteh Rostampour

Written by George Brant, Elephant’s Graveyard is based on a true story about an elephant that was strung up like a human criminal and executed on sep.13, 1916 in Erwin, Tennessee for killing one of its handlers.

The heartbreaking story of Mary, the elephant, moved me so deeply in a way no other story has. The brilliant narrations by Brant’s characters painted the most surreal images in my mind and inspired the designs for the set and lighting. I created my design concept particularly from the following passage:

STEAM SHOVEL OPERATOR. -to see her trunk flailin’ about, jerkin’ around every which way, stabbin’ the air like crazy, tryin’ to grab hold of somethin’.

My design illustrated paths of the railroad tracks in a force perspective that enveloped the entire stage. Crawling, extending, overlapping, and moving chaotically, the railroad tracks symbolized the movements of Mary’s trunk during her execution when she was desperately gasping for the air. The tunnel upstage served as the vanishing point for the tracks and was used for various image projections throughout the show. An elephant’s eye became a focal point at the end of the play when each character vanished in the darkness and the headlights of a train brushed over the audience and silenced after an ear-piercing sound of a passing train.