For Mlima’s Tale, the new play by Lynn Nottage at the Public Theater, is monumental. EMAIL ME. Joe Dziemianowicz for New York Daily News "Mlima’s Tale has an exceptional cast, whose four actors of color play multiple roles (sometimes transracially). Lynn Nottage’s “Mlima’s Tale,” which opened Sunday at Off Broadway’s Public Theater, brings to mind Simon Stone’s “Yerma,” now at the Park Avenue Armory. Mind you, those figures refer only to what’s been wrested from the corpse and is destined to travel the world. Opening night is Feb. 21 at 8 p.m. Pay What You Can (PWYC) performances are Feb. 19, 20, and 24, and March 2 and 9 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for PWYC are available at the box office one hour prior to performance, and are subject to availability. Review: An Elephant’s Ghost Stalks the World in ‘Mlima’s Tale’. I mean the tusks of the mighty Mlima, a legendary elephant struck down by poachers on the savannas of a Kenyan game preserve. Inspired by the real-life consequences of animal poaching, Mlima’s Tale is a piercing story of human cruelty born of greed and wavering values. It is an energetic play. Frank Scheck As phantoms go, this one is of rare solidity — 4.8 meters and 180 kilos, to use the statistics as given by the man who dealt the fatal blow to the title character. "...To cut to the chase: “Mlima’s Tale,” Lynn Nottage’s 2018 play about the savage slaughter and potential decimation of Africa’s “big tusk” elephant population, and the illicit trade in ivory that drives it, is a stunning piece of work – equal parts poetry, ritual and an anatomy of corruption. Venue: The Public Theater, New York Most disturbingly, we see him alone in the cargo hold of a ship, inevitably summoning thoughts of African people of earlier years abducted into barbaric slavery. Theatrically stylish but narratively underwhelming. FACEBOOK More didactic than narratively involving, the show never accumulates much dramatic force. La Ronde,” Arthur Schnitzler’s presentation. As she demonstrated in her two Pulitzer winners — “Ruined,” about sexual slavery in Congo, and “Sweat,” about blue-collar disaffection in the rust belt of Pennsylvania — Ms. Nottage does deep and conscientious research for her plays. Mlima the elephant is incarnated onstage with almost superhuman — and, yes, even supernatural — grace by Sahr Ngaujah, best known to New York audiences for playing the title role in the musical “Fela!” on Broadway. (Photo by Michael Brosilow) 4 stars “Mlima’s Tale,” a Midwest Premiere by Griffin Theatre, is a sensitive and heartrending depiction of greed, and specifically, the corruption associated with the illegal sale of elephant ivory that results in the daily slaughter of approximately 100 of these endangered animals. They are Kevin Mambo, Jojo Gonzalez and Ito Aghayere, who keep reincarnating themselves via quick changes of costume (by Jennifer Moeller), stance and accent. THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER is a registered trademark of The Hollywood Reporter, LLC. But unlike, say, the eye-opening Ruined, about women in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mlima's Tale doesn't shed much light on a subject amply covered in recent documentary films, or tell us anything we didn't already know. Taking us on a journey that starts in a game park in Kenya and goes around the world, MLIMA'S TALE is the story of Mlima, a magnificent elephant trapped in the clandestine international ivory market. From left, Mr. Ngaujah, Jojo Gonzales and Ito Aghayere in the play. Mlima's Tale at Westport Country Playhouse - A Review It was fascinating to watch the dance of the title character; the other three actors almost shape-shift into a whopping 20 characters. That’s “La Ronde,” Arthur Schnitzler’s presentation of sex as a daisy chain of erotic encounters that crosses the borders of class and money. That paint has a way of transferring itself, as an emblem of complicity, onto everyone with whom Mlima comes in contact. TWITTER Set designer: Riccardo Hernandez by | California Privacy Rights And his Mlima is just as imposing dead as alive. "Mlima' Tale" continues to March 21, 2020. The world Nottage has brought to the stage is rich … Here is pretty much the summation of what I knew about the worldwide ivory trade before seeing Griffin Theatre Company’s brilliant Mlima’s Tale at the Raven Theatre: it’s illegal everywhere and it involves the senseless murder of elephants to harvest their tusks. After Mlima’s death, Mr. Ngaujah smears his torso and face with white paint, evoking the ritual body painting of African tribes. ... Editorial Reviews Review. The rest of the ensemble are certainly effective in their multiple roles. Following a trail of greed and desire as old as trade itself, Mlima leads us through memory and fear, history and tradition, want and need, and reveals the surprising and … Both … In that work (widely known among cinephiles for Max Ophüls’s ravishing 1950 film adaptation), one character from each scene becomes a part of the next, giving unsettlingly fleshly resonance to the idea that we’re all connected. Such is the case here, due not only to the sketchy writing but also to Ngaujah's highly expressive physical performance. BWW Review: MLIMA'S TALE at Westport Country Playhouse by Sherry Shameer Cohen. Killing him entirely, it turns out, isn’t possible. Each of the people involved in this sequence of plunder and commerce is played by one of three enjoyable, mutable performers. It is an energetic play. © 2021 The Hollywood Reporter, LLC. Terms of Use | After delivering a lyrical monologue about his origins, Mlima, a beloved and protected Kenyan elephant represented in human form by the actor Sahr Ngaujah, is attacked by two poachers who patiently wait for him to die, not wanting to fire their guns so as to avoid making any noise. | EU Privacy Preferences. This latest work, receiving its world premiere at the Public Theater, marks a stylistic departure for playwright Nottage, a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (Ruined, Sweat) who specializes in putting a complex human face on charged political and social issues. Nottage’s work explores every setting from many perspectives and emotional starting points. For more information, please visit Lighting designer: Lap Chi Chu An elephant’s ghost story shines light on harrowing slaughter, ivory trade in ‘Mlima’s Tale’ Lynn Nottage’s latest drama is an unflinching tale of pain and suffering told from a most unique perspective. The stark staging by Jo Bonney (Father Comes Home From the Wars, Parts 1, 2 & 3) features evocative sound and lighting design by Darron L. West and Lap Chi Chu respectively, and a musician (Justin Hicks) sits offstage, providing atmospheric percussive and vocal accompaniment. As the rest of Mlima's Tale unfolds, the animal's spirit hovers over those morally corrupt people so eager to exploit his magnificent tusks for commercial gain. Don’t be surprised if at the end of this transfixing show, you find yourself checking your own clothes for remnants of the same substance. Playwright: Lynn Nottage Presented by The Public Theater. We first see Mr. Ngaujah in stately, trunk-brandishing silhouette against a bright night sky. Lynn Nottage‘s 80-minute play Mlima’s Tale opens Profile Theatre‘s 2020-21 season, Profile Theatre On Air. “Mlima’s Tale” is a finely wrought fusion of elements from Brechtian theater, story theater and a once-scandalous Austrian play from the late 19th century. Mlima’s Tale, Lynn Nottage’s play tracing the movement of poached Kenyan game reserve ivory from the butchered corpse to the final buyer, premiered in 2018 at New York City’s Public Theater. Presented by Griffin Theatre Company at the Raven Theatre, 6157 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL. Mlima’s Tale at Raven Theatre. As the rest of Mlima's Tale unfolds, the animal's spirit hovers over those morally corrupt people so eager to exploit his magnificent tusks for commercial gain. All rights reserved. In this taut, elegantly assembled production, which opened on Sunday night at the Public Theater, a magnificent specter stalks this planet, contaminating the lives of everyone he encounters. Two-time Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Lynn Nottage tackles the world of poaching in her latest work, Mlima’s Tale. Scenes are introduced with projections of African-inspired proverbs, such as "A single stick may smoke but it will not burn" and "No one tests the depth of the river with both feet" — these come to feel like fortune-cookie aphorisms. Following a trail of greed and desire as old as trade itself, Mlima leads us through memory and fear, history and tradition, and want and need. Mlima's Tale (Closed June 03, 2018) | Off-Broadway - Buy tickets and see show information. That’s partly because of the arresting visual inventiveness throughout. Clocking in at a mere 80 minutes, the play doesn't wear out its welcome. Mlima’s Tale suffers from too many crumbs, from a dependence on inevitability over revelation. Privacy Policy | Read news, see photos and watch videos. AdChoices 6:00 PM PDT 4/15/2018 The result, while certainly admirable in its spotlighting of the horrific poaching that has decimated African wildlife, particularly elephants, in recent years, is mixed. After his slaughter, Mlima, described as Kenya's "national treasure," becomes coated in white paint, which he proceeds to wipe on the other characters as if to provide a visual mark of their guilt. Curtain times: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 PM, Sunday at 3:00 PM. By Marissa Oberlander @MJOberlander Those portrayed include the Somali poachers who kill Mlima; the corrupt police chief who first sells the tusks and his unwitting nephew, a park warden; a media-savvy Kenyan bureaucrat; a Chinese businessman; a ship captain; and a master ivory carver. 6157 N. Clark St Chicago. Ms. Aghayere, left, as Player 3, and Mr. Ngaujah, as an elephant, in this story of murder and its afterlife. All those involved in Mlima’s slaughter and the sale of his tusks have understandable motives for acting as they do. Previews of “Mlima’s Tale” are Feb. 19 and 20 at 7:30 p.m. at Bryant Hall on Kalita Humphreys Campus. Those of you who don’t believe in ghosts are likely to think again after seeing “Mlima’s Tale,” Lynn Nottage’s beautiful, endlessly echoing portrait of a murder and its afterlife. Review of "Mlima's Tale" The illegal trade in African ivory is the central focus of Mlima’s Tale, a new play by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Lynn Nottage. Sahr Ngaujah, center, in “Mlima’s Tale,” Lynn Nottage’s portrait of global plunder and commerce. Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. When we first see him,… The 80-minute show is receiving its first professional production since its 2018 world premiere at The Public Theater in New York City. Mlima’s Tale – Review by Marlene S. Gaylinn Lynn Nottages’ unusual play, “Mlima’s Tale,” a modern fable about a beloved elephant, its spirit, and the various stages of corruption in the selling of its ivory, is currently being offered at Westport Country Playhouse (WCP). Such restraint is appropriate, since Ms. Nottage has not set out to create a gallery of predatory villains. Mlima's Tale (Closed July 12, 2020) | San Francisco - Buy tickets and see show information. The message of “Mlima’s Tale” is clear, uncluttered and hard-hitting. | Do Not Sell My Personal Information Meanwhile, Mlima’s body contorts more and more in pain, becoming more and more ghostlike. Review by Carol Rocamora: Mlima's Tale by Lynn Nottage, with Sahr Ngaujah, at the Public Theater is a stunning portrayal about the illegal ivory trade in … Tickets are $38 each and can be purchased by calling (773) 338-2177. This play is less character-driven and more story theater-like in its approach, employing the La Ronde-inspired device of relating its story in short episodes in which one character from the preceding scene appears in the next. Raven Theatre. The production traces the movement of Mlima’s tusks from the elephant’s death through their sale and subsequent smuggling out of Kenya until their final, grim apotheosis as an exquisite ivory set in the penthouse of a rich connoisseur. The actor, who originated the title role in the acclaimed Broadway musical Fela! It's no spoiler to reveal that the title character of Lynn Nottage's new drama dies in the opening scene. Riccardo Hernandez’s blank slate of a set is transformed into a globe-circling array of settings by jewel-colored light and shadow (Lap Chi Chu is the whiz of a lighting designer), projected poetic words and saturating, insinuating sound (by Darron L. West, with music written and performed by Justin Hicks). It’s a short journey between “exotic” and “erotic” in Lynn Nottage’s stunning, sad, sensual “Mlima’s Tale” at Westport Country Playhouse. If “Mlima’s Tale” is didactic theater, it never comes across as a finger-wagging lecture. MLIMA'S TALE, based upon the article 'The Ivory Highway' by Damon Tabor, is a truly powerful theatrical fable about the life and death of an African … Sounds hokey, I know, like an environmentalist’s version of those creaky horror stories about the curses that lurk in mummy’s tombs. Mlima’s Tale is another of those thought-provoking pieces … From poachers, to middlemen, and ultimately the socialite unveiling her new treasure to her retinue, we see one after another chapter in the story of greed that is Mlima’s Tale. Each character, inhabiting a rung on an ascending ladder of power, is very clearly defined but without grotesque caricature. It also features occasional doses of pungent humor — "You know how white people love their animals," one character complains about the attention paid to the illicit ivory trade — that alleviate its stern moralizing. Ivory, yes; but also desire, greed, wealth, beauty, brutality, age-old voices on the Savannah, and history on the wind which Nottage spins into an engrossing web that will likely grasp your conscience and stay with you as you traverse the plains of Astor Place. Director: Jo Bonney This improbable illusion is achieved and sustained with such artful and ingenious simplicity that I almost hate to describe it to anyone who plans to see the play. Meet Mlima, last of the “big-tusker” elephants in Kenya, trapped by the underground international ivory market. Read news, see photos and watch videos. Similarly, even the most seemingly noble among them are ultimately tainted by self-serving motives. “If you really listen,” he says, “our entire history is on the wind.” His future, too, becomes elementally pervasive, as Mr. Ngaujah shows up as a living shadow in every subsequent scene. Ms. Nottage makes deft and fleet-footed use of the Schnitzler prototype of overlapping lives. Yet Ms. Nottage, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner for drama, and her director, Jo Bonney, have shaped this story with such theatrical inventiveness and discipline that it never feels sensational, on the one hand, or pious, on the other. … Taking us on a journey from the heart of Africa and around the world, MLIMA'S TALE is the story of Mlima, a magnificent elephant trapped in the clandestine international ivory market. Elephants might become extinct in 20 years because of poaching for their ivory, we learn from “Mlima’s Tale,” the unusual new play by Lynn Nottage, the Pulitzer prize winning playwright of Ruined and Sweat, which is staged poetically by Jo Bonney, with a memorable performance by Sahr Ngaujah as Mlima. Three performers (Kevin Mambo, Jojo Gonzalez, Ito Aghayere) play a multitude of characters figuring in the story, including the poachers, a park warden, a police chief, an African government official, a Chinese collector, a Vietnamese smuggler, a boat captain, a master ivory carver and a wealthy art buyer, among others. Sound designer: Darron L. West Review by Karen Topham, ChicagoOnstage, member American Theatre Critics Association, photo by Michael Brosilow. MLIMA'S TALE is the second audio offering from Profile Theatre, and the first of three full-length audio plays the company is planning this season. (Mambo served as his alternate for certain performances), is such a striking visual presence you can't take your eyes off him, although he might be a bit more convincing as a pachyderm if he possessed at least an ounce of body fat. The play follows the death and desecration of a wild and iconic … People who kill elephants for money and trade their precious ivory must be energetic to stay ahead of the law. Cast: Ito Aghayere, Jojo Gonzalez, Kevin Mambo, Sahr Ngaujah Yet the facts, figures and folklore never feel jimmied in; the exchange of information among the characters is fluid and always appropriate to the circumstances. You’re probably still wondering, though, about Mlima himself and how we are seduced into accepting any actor as a dead elephant. Lynn Nottage’s Mlima’s Tale, a haunting drama about avarice and ivory, offers a dramatic reminder that the majestic beasts endure things no living creature would want to recall." At its conclusion, you wind up feeling exactly the same way as when it began. We hold that initial image in our heads when this figure begins to move, regally and angrily, and to speak in a rich, sensory language of his world and his past as he perceives them. Mlima’s Tale – Review by Dave Rosenberg. For wherever the ivory that once belonged to Mlima goes, so goes an entire baleful history of imperiled natural grandeur, leaving stains like marks of Cain on every one of its exploiters. Riffing on Arthur Schnitzler’s “La Ronde,” in which one sexual encounter leads to … It is Ms. Nottage’s point that unconditional virtue is nonexistent within the international system of economic power that keeps the play’s world spinning. It's a problem when the most vivid character onstage is a mostly mute elephant (and his tusks). As he follows a trail of greed and desire as old as trade itself, Mlima takes us on a journey through memory and fear, history and tradition, want and need, and the complicated deals we make with ourselves and each other to get what we most desire. But what keeps it from falling into boredom is the … “Mlima’s Tale” presented by the Griffin Theatre Company at the Raven Theater, 6157 N. Clark St. in Chicago, is a powerful, sensitive, and heartrending depiction of greed and corruption associated with the illegal sale of elephant ivory, which results in the slaughter of approximately 100 of the endangered animals every day. In case you were wondering, the title character in this 80-minute, four-actor play is no mere airy metaphor but a figure of towering physical substance. Mlima's Tale traces the illegal ivory trade The tragedy of a single elephant's death has universal implications in Griffin's production. To cut to the chase: “Mlima’s Tale,” Lynn Nottage’s 2018 play about the savage slaughter and potential decimation of Africa’s “big tusk” elephant population, and the illicit trade in ivory that drives it, is a stunning piece of work – equal parts poetry, ritual and an anatomy of corruption. “Mlima’s Tale” is a finely wrought fusion of elements from Brechtian theater, story theater and a once-scandalous Austrian play from the late 19th century. You can feel the playwright straining for stylistic effect. Costume designer: Jennifer Moeller Sitemap | The ensemble's frequent shifts in gender and nationality are sometimes confusing, and while there are many powerful moments, the narrative is choppy and disjointed. Here, she packs a wealth of cultural, political and economic detail into each scene, from Maasai superstitions to the statistics of the illegal ivory trade. By Catey Sullivan - For the Sun-Times Feb 24, 2020, 4:28pm CST Mlima’s Tale is just as passionate, but the drama is less in speech than in movement.