A Peak Behind the Curtain


Photo Credit: Caitlin Kronberg

Steam shovel operators, Cirilo Mejia (right) and Dillon Johnson (left), beg to help dig the elephant’s grave.

Caitlin Kronberg, Staff Reporter

The Schuyler Central High School One-Act team is preparing for another season of competitions, despite the threat of Covid-19. Practices have already started, and are soon to be followed by performances. This One-Act sneak peek will give you the scoop on what the play is about and the plan for competitions. 

For the 2020 school year, the Schuyler Central High School One-Act team is putting on a play called “Elephant’s Graveyard” by George Brant. The play is based on the real-life events of a circus performance in Erwin, Tennessee in 1916. A mixture of trainer inexperience and bad training led to a tragedy. Mary, the elephant, threw her trainer off her back and then stepped down, crushing him in an instant. The people of Erwin then decided to hang Mary with a crane. 

The play focuses on the reactions of the circus and the townspeople, and not the trainer’s death. The performers in Spark’s circus believed that Mary was innocent. “While part of the script has been filled in to make it more theatrical, there are quite a few characters that are based on true people who witnessed or participated in this event” explained Hope Pedersen, SCHS One-Act coach and Schuyler Elementary School Art teacher. 

Covid-19 has impacted this year’s One-Act competitions. Many schools are considering virtual tournaments. Other schools want to hold performances in person. “Of course, we are still waiting on NSAA to make the final decision, but having talked with other coaches, we feel very optimistic about having on-stage performances” Pedersen added. Covid-19 precautions will have to be taken on the stage and in the audience for large events. “We expect there to be between 4-5 performances. We will compete at Conference and Districts and one other competition (still to be decided)” remarked Morgan Semerad, One-Act coach and Music teacher. 

Over 30 students are reenacting the event with the help of their three coaches; Hope Peterson, Morgan Semerad, and Paul Niedbalski. “Elephant’s Graveyard” is the true story of a small town that hung an elephant.