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Playhouse Perspectives: Mlima’s Tale
Bethany Gugliemino

Welcome to Playhouse Perspectives: Mlima’s Tale, a blog series exploring Westport Country Playhouse’s upcoming production of Mlima’s Tale by Lynn Nottage. This play is a powerful, theatrical fable about a magnificent and beloved Kenyan elephant named Mlima hunted for his coveted ivory tusks. As traffickers maneuver the illicit ivory market, the animal’s invincible spirit follows their path of desire, greed, crime, and corruption.

You’ll be able to see Mlima’s Tale starting on October 1st, but in the meantime, we are thrilled to share this series with you. Over the next three weeks, we will explore Nottage’s play through the unique viewpoints of seven guest authors. We hope that this series will serve as a chance to think deeply about the themes and ideas explored in Mlima’s Tale, and the way those ideas intersect with art and literature, with history both local and global, and with the choices we make every day. 

Posts will be published on Tuesdays and Thursdays through October 1. I hope you’ll enjoy hearing from these wonderful authors, and we’ll see you here at the Playhouse in October for Mlima’s Tale!

Blog Contributors

Joshua Williams
Assistant Professor Faculty Fellow, Drama Department
NYU Tisch School of the Arts

If You're Listening (Posted Tuesday, September 10, 2019)

In her landmark poem “Origins and History of Consciousness,”
Adrienne Rich addresses what she calls “the true nature of poetry. The drive / to connect. The dream of a common language.” READ MORE »

Jim Knox
Curator of Education at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo
Mlima's Tale: A Conservationist's Perspective (Posted Thursday, September 12, 2019)

Mlima’s Tale by Lynn Nottage is a masterfully rendered play profiling the journey of poached ivory from Mlima, a magnificent bull Savanna elephant from Kenya’s Tsavo National Park... READ MORE »

James Green
Frances and Benjamin Benenson Foundation Assistant Curator of African Art
Yale University Art Gallery

Considering Mlima's Tusks (Posted Tuesday, September 17, 2019)

The action of Mlima’s Tale is driven by man’s obsession with ivory, and all human characters in the play are implicated in the illegal ivory trade. A character in the..READ MORE »

Eleni Coundouriotis
Professor of English and Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies
University of Connecticut
Ivory Dust (Posted Thursday, September 19, 2019)

Creating empathy for distant suffering is always a challenge. But what if
the distance is not only one of geography and culture but a species distance? READ MORE »

Brenda Milkofsky
Former Senior Curator, The Connecticut River Museum, Essex, CT
From Combs to Keyboards: Cutting Ivory in Connecticut (Posted Tuesday, September 24, 2019)

It was a cold, dark December morning. Deacon George Read sat reading, unwilling to leave the warmth of the parlor stove...READ MORE »

Yanoula Athanassakis
Clinical Associate Professor of English and Environmental Studies at NYU
Director of the NYU Environmental Humanities Initiative

Mlima’s Tale and the Gift of Disruption (Posted Thursday, September 26, 2019)

Lynn Nottage’s Mlima’s Tale offers a deeply moving story of an elephant who is violently reduced to, and commodified as, a set of ivory tusks. Like any artistic work...READ MORE »

Louisa Lombard
Associate Professor of Anthropology
Yale University
The Victims Who Are Our Saviors (Posted Tuesday, October 1, 2019)

African elephants are being decimated. The exact figures go up and down, but a recent trip notwithstanding, the overall trend remains clear...READ MORE »

Playhouse Perspectives: Mlima’s Tale is supported in part by CT Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Graham Foundation of Connecticut.

Bethany Gugliemino is an Artistic Associate at Westport Country Playhouse.

Tickets start at $30 during preview performances (October 1-4).
After Opening Night, tickets start at $40. 

or call the box office at (203) 227-4177
Regular box office hours: Tuesday - Friday, 12PM - 6PM, with extended hours on show days.

Czekaj Artistic Productions
Barbara & John Samuelson

The Graham Foundation of Connecticut

This project is supported in part by: