Few historic instances demonstrate our unnerving fixation on exacting punishment quite like the notorious 1916 lynching of an elephant in the town of Erwin, Tennessee. As dramatized by Elephant's Graveyard, a play from George Brant now receiving a local staging by Theatre Pro Rata, the gruesome incident began when the star attraction of a traveling circus, a 20-year-old elephant named Mary, killed her handler in a moment of piqued anger. Blaming the circus for the death, the townsfolk demanded that the animal be held accountable and, after debating various methods of execution, a reinforced chain was wrapped around the pachyderm's neck and she was hung from an industrial crane until she slowly choked to death. Told entirely through first-person monologue, each of the play's characters express conflicted sentiments of pride, confusion, repulsion, and shame. With the versatile Amber Bjork in the director's chair and an ensemble cast recollecting the event like an oral history, Theatre Pro Rata finds a dark reflection of our own inhumanity in the grotesque death of a circus elephant. For tickets, call 612-234-7135. (Photo by Charlie Gorrill)
Fridays-Sundays, 7:30 p.m.; Mon., Feb. 17, 7:30 p.m. Starts: Feb. 15. Continues through March 2, 2014
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