White Elephant features a series of poetic vignettes about animals, people and objects transitioning from one plane to another. Inspired by the true story of an unwanted, white, weathered, wicker elephant whose owner tosses it onto a roaring bonfire one chilly fall night, White Elephant is brought to life through puppetry, movement, mask, super 8 film, and live music.
After the wicker elephant is thrown onto the bonfire, its tightly woven pieces prove durable; glowing, intertwined embers become white fragile strings. The elephant, now as light as a feather, rises up and hovers majestically over the fire before plunging downward. The sudden drop destroys its beautiful shape as well as the complex system of threads that held it together, completing the transformation from object to ash/ghost. Thus begins the journey of White Elephant, a meditation on transition, memory and release.
White Elephant is performed by four puppeteers/physical storytellers: Lake Simons, Erin Orr, Luis Tentindo and Yoko Myoi alongside musician John Dyer.
White Elephant marks the fourth collaboration between John Dyer and Lake Simons. They developed the piece as part of LABAPALOOZA, the puppet lab at St. Ann's Warehouse; HERE Arts Center, CRS, and as artists-in-residence at Dixon Place. Dyer and Simons' previous collaborations include What's inside the egg?, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, & How I Fixed My Engine With Rose Water.