Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Sultan's Elephant

You know, I'm not a theater guy, but I can appreciate some of the craftsmanship of set and costume design, from a layman's perspective. Having had a little experience and being up on some of the current trends, it's rare that I am completely awed by someone's effort. The Sultan's Elephant is one of those efforts. The story so far is...

Once upon a time, there lived a sultan who was tormented in his dreams by visions of a little girl who was travelling through time. This is his story, incredible but true.

The sultan could no longer sleep, his growing anguish diverting his attention from affairs of state. In order to cure his sickness, and believing that he would find the girl in the land of dreams, he commissioned an unknown engineer living in 1900 to construct a time-travelling elephant. A few months later, the sultan set off with his court in search of the little giant, which, in the course of his nightmares, had been transformed into a marionette 5 metres high.

The trip was awful, but they found a series of clues as to her wherabouts. The giant loved sewing - she liked to stitch cars to the tarmac, boats to quaysides, trains to railway tracks and sometimes even envelopes to letterboxes.

The elephant followed the trail left by the puppeteers. And as in all love stories, strange things began to happen. Such was his happiness at getting closer to her, he began to expel hundreds of living birds which disappeared into the sky in a burst of joy.


Royal de Luxe are an "extraordinary European street theatre company, renowned on three continents but hardly known in Britain." This was instrumental is surprising the people of London with their latest show this past weekend. Check out the gallery to see pictures of the event and parade, then watch this unofficial video to get a tiny idea of how unbelievable this show was. I'm quite jealous of those who got to see it live.


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