My Elephant Journey Begins

Posted on 05 September 2015

I have started the journey of writing a musical about the lives of elephants.

The idea popped into my head while I was travelling around the US visiting family. I had been playing with a number of ideas, because the goal I have set myself is to write a theatrical work that can be shared with other theatre groups around the world. To do this the work must either be entirely original or make use of select Creative Commons work. I am happy to go either way. The thought of creating a work that I in turn release into creative commons excites me.

As soon as elephants came to mind, at the facility in Bend Oregon where I was joining my family for a reunion, I found the book African Nights by Kiki Gallmann. I was deeply moved by Gallmann’s elegant writing and soulful storytelling. She portrayed a continent rich in life, emotion, and spirituality. Elephants themselves are deeply feeling and soulful creatures. My chosen subject would give me the space to explore a world lavish with meaning, where the story could swing from the humorous and playful to the tragic.

When I returned to Australia I wasn’t sure if I had really found my subject. I didn’t even have a plot in mind. However every time I mentioned the possibility, people would get excited and start smiling. The zeitgeist seemed to be with me. And besides African music followed me everywhere: cafes, radio stations, waiting rooms. Magic or my subconscious giving me a hefty poke, I don’t really care, but clearly this is a good direction for me to follow.

So, I have checked out a stack of books about elephants from several libraries. I have begun to read articles on line about news to do with elephants. I am contacting people who can give me first hand information about African elephants. I have also renewed my precious zoo membership (usually my mother does this for me at Christmas). I am now visiting the elephants at the Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens once a week to observe.

The subject is becoming much bigger and much more critical than I at first realised. Portraying the lives of elephants isn’t a frivolous idea at all. It connects up directly with issues to do with climate change, refugees, and the rich/poor divide. As my friend Ted Nelson says, “Everything is deeply intertwingled.”

I am hoping to keep everyone informed of my progress here. So keep your eyes peeled as I share the journey.

Peace and kindness,


African elephant infant and Mama Credit: Michelle Gadd/USFWS

African elephant infant and Mama Credit: Michelle Gadd/USFWS

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