THE VANISHING ELEPHANT
Produced by Cahoots NI
From Belfast, Northern Ireland
About the Company
This incredible story, inspired by true events, comes to life through large-scale puppetry, illusion, and magic. Jenny, a young elephant, is born in the 1900s in Bengal, India and is full of curiosity about the world around her. But one day her life changes dramatically when she is captured and separated from her family. She must learn the ways of humans and is to be trained to work on clearing the jungle so that railways can be built. The training is sometimes cruel and hard, but she makes friends with an orphaned Indian boy called Opu. It is this friendship that lies at the heart of The Vanishing Elephant.
When Jenny is sold to a circus in America, she does not know if she will ever see Opu again, but she carries his memory deep within her. She makes the strange journey across the sea to a new world filled with many adventures - including meeting the great Harry Houdini who plans to make Jenny magically disappear from the stage of the Hippodrome, New York. Meanwhile, far away in India, Opu is now an old man and he recognizes his dear friend in a newspaper story. Despite ill health, he makes the same difficult boat journey to New York that Jenny once made. There on the stage, they meet again one last time and together they are part of an amazing and moving theatrical vanishing.
This large scale production premeired in NYC on October 14 2023, presented by the New Victory, and was declared a Critic's Pick by the New York Times - "This alluring spectacle..., which aims to dazzle audiences 8 and older, makes powerful statements about the rights of both animals and human beings."
Read the full NYT review here.
Best for Grades: 3rd+
Audience Size: Medium to Large Venues
BRAND NEW TRAILER
Full Length performance video available in November!
Check out this Behind-the-Scenes Puppetry development session with Puppet Designer and Maker Helen Foan.
Science : Animals, Nature, Habitats
Geography : Landscapes, Climates, Cultures/Around the World
History: 1920s, Where we have come from, where we are now, how things have changed
Language and Literacy : Storytelling, Discussion, Debate
Personal Development and Mutual Understanding : Kindness, Relationships, Family, Friendship, Immigration, Displacement, Exclusion
The Arts : Theatre, Magic, Design, Circus, Puppetry, Music
Social & Emotional Learning: Character Building, Personal Development, Problem Solving, and Mutual Understanding
Minimum Technical Requirements
Director: Paul Bosco Mc Eneaney
Writer: Charles Way
Puppetry Director & Maker: Helen Foan
Designer: Sabine Dargent
Touring Company Will include:
8 Cast Members
2 Crew Members
The Vanishing Elephant will feature stunning puppets designed and made by Helen Foan, including a baby elephant, a young adult elephant, a fully grown adult elephant and a tiger.
A Critic's Pick by the New York Times - "This alluring spectacle..., which aims to dazzle audiences 8 and older, makes powerful statements about the rights of both animals and human beings." Read the full NYT review here.
Past Tours: Secrets of Space, Penguins, Shh! We Have a Plan, Egg , Danny Carmo's Mathematical Mysteries, Nivelli's War, and Lights, Camera, Math!
Cahoots NI is at the forefront of Northern Irish theatre and is the leading professional theatre company producing work for children. Since beginning operations in November 2001, Cahoots NI has produced original, boldly innovative work for children, some staged in conventional theatre venues and some in purpose-designed sites or specific locations, including schools and healthcare settings. Its work concentrates on combining the visual potential of theatre with the age-old popularity of magic and illusion.
For more information, please visit the company’s website.
Director - Paul Bosco Mc Eneaney
Paul Bosco Mc Eneaney is from County Armagh, Northern Ireland, and is the Founder and Artistic Director of Cahoots.
His recent Theatre writing credits include; Penguins, Shh! We Have a Plan, Egg, Danny Carmo’s Mathematical Mysteries and The Magic Hat. In his role as Artistic Director Paul has produced and directed many productions, most recently The University of Wonder and Imagination (International Zoom Tour 2020), The Grimm Hotel (Immersive Walk-Through Experience, Belfast 2021) and Secrets of Space (USA Tour 2022). Paul has worked extensively as an illusion consultant on many different productions, ranging from Shakespeare in the open air to Broadway musicals. As an actor, Paul was nominated for the prestigious Ian Charleson award and received a Commendation from the National Theatre for his performance in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast. In November 2011, The Belfast Metropolitan College honoured Paul with an Award of Distinction for his contribution to the Arts.
Puppetry Director and Maker - Helen Foan
Helen is a freelance designer, maker and director of puppetry for theatre and live performance. She trained at East 15 Acting School where she studied on the Contemporary Theatre and Acting BA (Hons).
Helen started working as a puppet maker with Blind Summit Theatre Company in 2011 where she created puppets for Le Rossignol at the Bregenz International Opera Festival and Citizen Puppet at the Edinburgh festival (fringe first award winner 2015) As a puppet maker Helen has worked with the leading designers Mervyn Millar and Tracy Waller (Significant Object) for Circus 1903, Samuel Wyer for The Wizard of Oz, Jimmy Grimes for 101 Dalmations, Max Humphries for Dinosaur World Live, Jo Lakin and Mervyn Millar for The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe. Helen’s work as a designer and director of puppetry includes: Ben Crystal’s Dreame at the Ucheldre Centre, Wales; Seven Stages Shakespeare’s Hamlet in Portsmouth, New Hampshire USA; Passion in Practice’s Henry V at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Shakespeare’s Globe; Caliban and the Magick Booke at the British Library for their Shakespeare’s Birthday 2016 Celebrations; Finger in the Pies’ Moby Dick at the Greenwich Theatre. Other credits include: Puppet and set design for Barmpot Theatres’ PenguinPig; puppet design for Snark the Musical’s Hunting The Snark, Pants on Fire’s Pinocchio at (the Pleasance) Edinburgh Fringe festival.
Helen has run puppetry workshops for children, adults and professional performers in London and around the world, including New Zealand, Japan, and the USA, and teaches regularly at East 15 Acting School.
Charles Way - Writer
Charles is one of Britain’s leading writer’s for children and young people. In 2016 he was honoured by Action for Children’s Arts for his contribution to children’s theatre. Charles began writing plays professionally in 1978 when he joined Leeds Playhouse TIE team. He has now written over fifty plays, and his work is produced all over the world. ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and ‘The Search for Odysseus’ were both nominated as Best Children's Play by the Writer's Guild of Great Britain and ‘A Spell of Cold Weather’ won the award in1996. His play about the percussionist Evelyn Glennie, which was first produced at the Polka Theatre was nominated as Best Children's Show by the TMA, as was ‘Nivelli’s War’ for Cahoots which transferred to Broadway in 2017. His version of ‘The Borrowers’ won the award in a production for Northern Stage directed by Erica Whyman in 2014.
He has enjoyed a close relationship with the Unicorn Theatre in London for whom he wrote ‘The Flood’ published by Collins and in 2004 ’Red Red Shoes’ which won the English Arts council’s ‘Children’s Award’. He was commissioned by the National Theatre for the ‘Assembly’ project to write ‘Alice in the News’, which has subsequently been performed by children all over Britain. In 2010 the author was the recipient of the prestigious German children’s theatre prize for ‘Missing’ about child poverty and in 2004 'Merlin and the Cave of Dreams', was nominated for a Helen Hayes award for the 'Outstanding New Play’ in Washington DC. Recent works include ‘The Grimm Hotel’, ’Under the Hawthorn Tree’, ‘The Gift’, ‘The Assistant’s Revenge’, ‘Secrets of Space’ and’ The Vanishing Elephant’ all for Cahoots.
Sabine Dargent - Designer
Sabine Dargent works mostly in theatre, but also on film and exhibitions. She has a long standing working relationship with director Mikel Murfi, designing set and sometimes costumes for his productions at the Abbey Theatre, Druid and the Lyric Theatre, Belfast. She has also worked regularly with directors Enda Walsh (for Druid), Jim Culleton of Fishamble and Conall Morrison. She has also designed productions for Cahoots, Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre, Siren Productions, Kabosh, Lyric Theatre Belfast, Everyman Theatre, Second Age Theatre Company, Big Telly Theatre Company, Barnstorm Theatre Company, TEAM Theatre, Blue Raincoat Theatre Company, Galloglass Theatre Company and Rex Levitates (now Liz Roche Company). For the last several years, she has designed for the Dublin St Patrick’s Festival Parade (200 costumes, props and floats). In France, she designed for TGV and was in-house design assistant to Serge Noyelle (Théâtre de Chatillon) and Antonio Diaz Florian (l’Epée de Bois).