Staged reading: Elephant in the Room
Artpark is pleased to announce a new musical development project, Elephant in the Room, which tells the story of the ecological and societal crisis's endangering Africa’s elephant population and how it reflects back to those here in the United States. This epic journey is ideal for family audiences and is told through the eyes of a young Congolese refugee girl. Her unique understanding of the crumbling of elephant society is both playful and poignant. A company of multi-talented performers will play both the humans and animal, bringing the world of Virunga National Park to life through this exciting song, dance and puppetry experience. A free staged reading will be presented on Sunday August 27 at 3pm in the Artpark Gallery. FREE admission All audiences welcome!
Elephant in the Room is created by Tony-nominated actor and musician Sahr Ngaujah and and writer, producer and puppet artist Jean Marie Keevins. The workshop will be directed by NY-based director Roger Danforth, music director Patric Towey.
This project is supported in part by the National Fund for New Musicals, a program of National Alliance for Musical Theatre - www.namt.org
Sahr Ngaujah is a renowned Tony-nominated actor/musician and a theater director of Sierra Leonean descent: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sahr_Ngaujah
He starred in two Athol Fugard plays, Master Harold and the Boys and The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek both at the Signature Theater; worked with the likes of Freddie Hendricks and Gerrit Timmers (Rotterdam), Falk Richter (Berlin), Del Hamilton and Tim Habeger (Atlanta), Walter Chakela (Johannesburg) and Made n da Shade/MC (Amsterdam); has worked in film since the late 1990s, with appearances in The Signal, Stomp the Yard and Blood Done Sign My Name, among other films. TV: starred in ABC’s Last Resort as “Julian Serratt” and held a coveted reoccurring roll on The Blacklist. Sahr is a M.A. graduate of DASARTS in Amsterdam. He earned an Obie Award in 2009 for the role of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti in Fela! Off-Broadway at 37 Arts in 2008 and on Broadway in 2009, London in 2011, where he received a 2011 Laurence Olivier Award nomination. He led the company for a special Nigerian and European/US Tour. Fela! earned 11 of the 12 possible Tony nominations, including for Sahr as Best Actor in a Leading Role. Other awards and recognitions for Best Actor in the musical: 2012 Helen Hayes Award and 2012 Toronto Critics’ Award; 2009 Lucille Lortel Award and a 2009 Drama Desk Award. The Fela! Original Broadway Cast Recording lead by Sahr also received a 2010 Grammy nomination.
Jean Marie Keevins is a NYC-based writer, producer and puppet artist, currently Executive Producing Crane by puppet artists Heather Henson & Lead Producing James Godwin’s The Flatiron Hex. Most recent theatrical collaboration, Zwerge, has been the recipient of two Jim Henson Foundation Grants and a Puffin Foundation Grant. Co-written by Deborah Hertzberg and Spencer Lott, Zwerge was originally workshopped at The National Puppetry Conference while serving as Artist in Residence. Following a residency and sold out run at Dixon Place in NYC, Zwerge will resume preparations for its final stage of development in late 2017. Under the umbrella of her new production company, Little Shadow Productions, Jean Marie has created two self-produced short films, was commissioned to create and perform the puppets for Wyatt Cenac’s (The Daily Show) Netflix special Brooklyn and customized puppets for Funny or Die. As the long-time VP of Business Development at Puppet Heap, Jean Marie served as a knowledgeable liaison between clients and the Puppet Heap workshop throughout the entire design/build/production process. She has built puppets for Avenue Q, Disney on Ice’s Finding Nemo, Baby Einstein, The Muppets, Johnny and the Sprites as well as various Broadway shows. A reoccurring Guest Lecturer at New York University, Jean Marie holds a BA in Theater Studies with a concentration in the Puppet Arts from the University of Connecticut.
Jean Marie now serves as the Associate Artistic Director of the National Puppetry Conference & is the Director of Participant Projects, a mentoring program to create new short works of puppet theatre. Jean Marie is a former board member of the international puppetry organization UNIMA-USA.
Roger Danforth: recently retired Artistic Director of the Drama League organization in New York where he nurtured some of the best theatre directors and playwrights in the industry for 20 years. Prior to his work at the Drama League, he served as the director of new play development at Cleveland Play House, where he also served as acting artistic director for the 1994–95 season. He has directed shows at Two River Theater, Capital Repertory Theatre, York Theatre Company, Berkshire Theatre Festival, and many others. Danforth is the recipient of the 2006 Theatre Museum’s Award for Excellence in Theatre Arts Education