~ AN ELEPHANT AT THE STATION ~
'And from the north an ancient dream, beast of hoof and trunk'
A site specific performance piece written around the urban legend that the original plans for Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station were switched with the plans for those of Mumbai's. The punch line of this legend is that the two cities ended up with each other’s intended train stations. Further to this, it is rumored that inside Flinders Street Stations dome is a lift designed to transport elephants.
An Elephant At The Station works with the synopsis of an Indian prince visiting the station atop an elephant soon after it's completion some years ago. Once outside the entrance steps of the intended 'jewel of Mumbai', the elephant instinctively senses that within it's confines is a contraption designed to transport it's mass - and thus in excitement it discards it's royal human passenger, and rampages through the station in a frenzied search for the lift. In a rare cross of Chaplin-esque physical comedy and the visceral menace of an Aliens movie, the piece follows two intrepid bell boys, Max and Menlin, and the station master Sergeant Bluster, as they battle to regain control of the station against a foreign foe they do not understand yet is meant to be there.
Over 2009 and 2010 the project was supported through the Next Wave Festivals Kickstart development program. The team was given a one-week residency inside the stations dilapidated and rarely seen ballroom area - in response to which a full script and outline was written.
When it came to the crunch, the team were not granted permission to perform the piece within it's intended ballroom space, reportedly due to occupational health and safety concerns around bringing an audience into it. So, a condensed 'montage' of the piece was performed in the upstairs room of 1000-Pound Bend in Melbourne's cbd, and the work has become another legend about the historic station in itself. Who knows if it will ever displace itself from this myth and become part of a tangible reality...
Written, directed and created by Pete Reid
Produced by Stephanie Kabanyana and Tom Doig at Next Wave
Dramaturgy by Dario Vacirca
Max performed by Lachlan Plain,
Menlin performed by Paul Bourke and Sean Louth,
Sergeant Bluster performed by Pete Reid
Music written and performed by Pete Reid, and accompanied by Renato Vacirca, Jon Drew’s and Lhibou Hornung.
Sound Design by Keith Graeme McDougall
Co Set and prop design and creation by Lachlan Plain.
Supported through the Next Wave Kickstart program.