Superhero Clubhouse Announces Cast & Team for MAMMELEPHANT World Premiere

The production is inspired by the Pleistocene Park geoengineering experiment, the Colossal de-extinction project, and an ancient Yakutian song-poem.

By: Jun. 27, 2022

Superhero Clubhouse Announces Cast & Team for MAMMELEPHANT World Premiere

Superhero Clubhouse has announced the complete cast and creative team for the world premiere of Mammelephant, a musical epic exploring displacement and identity in the era of climate change as experienced by the world's first mammoth-elephant hybrid. Written by Lanxing Fu and composed by Trevor New, the production is inspired by the Pleistocene Park geoengineering experiment, the Colossal de-extinction project, and an ancient Yakutian song-poem. Directed by Nana Dakin, the play follows the first "mammelephant" as they try to make a hopeful future in a place where everything-knowledge, ancestry, even the ground beneath their feet-is unstable. Performances begin July 21 at 122CC Second Floor Theater (150 First Ave, Manhattan), with an opening set for July 23, for a limited run through August 6. Tickets are now on sale.

In the Sakha Republic, located in far northeastern Russia, there is a radical experiment brewing to resurrect the wooly mammoth, save the Arctic permafrost from thawing, and prevent the worst of climate change. The Indigenous Yakut people are already experiencing homes sinking and roads buckling from the thawing land. What can one genetically engineered creature teach us about resilience to crisis and adaptation in the face of collective loss?

The complete cast for Mammelephant includes Jen Anaya, Imani Russell, Izzy Sazak, and Zhanna Zakharova.

The creative team includes Alejandro Fajardo (production design), kindall houston almond (costume design), Trevor New (sound design and engineering), Lexy Ho-Tai (crankie design), Erika Ji (music direction), Treya Lam (additional music), Eva Von Schweinitz (additional sound design), Jem Pickard (producer), Rachel Denise April (stage manager), and Kelly Lamanna (production manager).

Zhanna Zakharova, pictured above, grew up in the Indigenous Republic of Sakha where her mother still resides. There she witnessed how warming temperatures are sinking houses, access roads are disappearing, and ancient forests are being set ablaze. In Mammelephant, Zakharova gives voice to the Yakut people through her own words and her mother's as she plays the khomus, a traditional Yakutian instrument.

"As a young immigrant, the story of a fictional 'mammelephant'-displaced from everything familiar, learning to adapt without being grounded in a legacy of family-resonated with me deeply," says writer Lanxing Fu who co-directs Superhero Clubhouse. "The experience of displacement and migration, chosen or forced, is something experienced by millions as a result of the climate crisis. In the development of Mammelephant, my writing has been deeply affected by the range of life experiences and identities that my collaborators have brought into the rehearsal room. Together, we've created a story that is filled with hope and activated imagination."

"Right now, I think there is a hidden disconnect people feel towards the climate crisis," says director Nana Dakin. "We see the news, we know it's bad, we worry about it - but we don't really know how to be in relationship to this crisis. Mammelephant offers a healing balm for this dissociation. It brings us together to ask, 'What lessons of resilience and adaptability do we have to offer each other?'"

"Mammelephant moves away from familiar climate narratives of politics and apocalypse and invites audiences to envision how we might adapt together, create a hopeful future together, even in the face of displacement and loss," says producer Jem Pickard who co-directs Superhero Clubhouse. "Mammelephant critiques technological responses to the climate crisis by centering the Indigenous Yakut people whose homes are built on permafrost, and a mammoth-elephant hybrid creature whose de-extinction has displaced her not just from family and homeland but also from time."

Twelve performances of Mammelephant will take place July 21 - August 6, 2022, at 122CC Second Floor Theater, located at 150 First Avenue in Manhattan. The performance schedule is Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 PM with a 3 PM performance on August 6. Critics are welcome as of July 21 for an opening on July 23. Tickets, priced at $10-$60, can be purchased online at Click Here. The anticipated running time is 90 minutes with no intermission.

Mammelephant was previously developed as part of Theatre Row's Kitchen Sink residency, a two-year period of support created and led by Sarah Hughes. Work-in-progress performances of Mammelephant were presented in February 2020 at Theatre Row and in February 2019 at HERE Arts Center & The New Ohio. Early development took place in November 2017 at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center and in February 2018 at the Dragon's Egg Retreat Center.

Please visit Click Here for more information.

About the Artists

Lanxing Fu (playwright) is a Chinese-American theater artist, and Co-Director of Superhero Clubhouse, creating performance for climate and environmental justice with an interdisciplinary community. She is a writer, teaching artist, performer, facilitator, producer, and generative collaborator on a variety of new work, with a focus on community-based, socially-engaged practice. Published essays include: "Building Possibility in the Age of Climate Change" and "The Birth of a Climate Commons" (HowlRound); "A Climate of Change" (American Theatre). She was a member of TCG's 2019 Conference Committee on Climate and a TCG 2020 Rising Leader of Color.

Trevor New (composer) is a Brooklyn-based electro-acoustic viola musician, has performed throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia as a soloist, chamber musician, and recording artist. He has appeared as a soloist performing the Elgar Cello Concerto transcribed for Viola, and premiering the Henderson Viola Concerto with the Chelsea Symphony of New York in 2014. As a chamber musician he has played with the Balkan Chamber Orchestra on a multi-city tour of Japan, Chris McNulty on her Jazz album Eternal, Joe Daley's Portraits and Virtues, David Chesky's Joy and Sorrow, Feist's Metals, Hip-hop Violinist and Emmy award winner Damien Escobar, and in the TV Orchestra of television's first drama about life in a Symphony, Mozart in the Jungle. In 2018 Trevor performed a concert series with Academy award winner Joe Hisaishi, playing his film scores, including "Spirited Away" at Carnegie Hall.

Nana Dakin (director) is a queer Thai-American director of new work, classics and devised performance based in NYC. Her work pursues social equity by examining the way culture is constructed and unsettling dormant biases. Upcoming: Lost Coast (The Playwrights Realm INK'D Festival) and Mammelephant (Superhero Clubhouse/122CC). She is a core member of B-Floor Theatre, Thailand's most highly awarded theatre company, and of Superhero Clubhouse.

About the Cast

Jen Anaya (they/them) is a queer Indigenous Mexican theater/music/art/ritual space maker, doula, energy healer and baby whisperer born and raised in the desert of Yavapaiv Apache, Cocopah and O'odham land. A proud jack of all trades, they have performed in rock bands, web series, art installations, plays, operas, films, solo shows, healing rituals and musicals throughout NYC, the country, and the world. From La Mama to The Kitchen, Harvard Art Lab to Radio City Music Hall, the mountains of Greece to Harpa in Iceland, Jen has been weaving music, theater, art, movement and healing together every chance they get. They are a founding member of Constellation Chor, an occasional contributor to You Are Here Creations and a 2021 FORGE Fellow. They are a certified Reiki and 13th Octave La Ho Chi practitioner. When not on a contract, Jen can be found making art with awesome young folks at the 52nd St. Project, finishing a script for a children's show, and working on an immersive, interactive, multi-disciplinary piece that focuses on healing intergenerational trauma.

Izzy Sazak (they/them) is a Turkish-Colombian-American transmedia artist, theater-maker, singer, and educator, living and working on Lenape Land (Philadelphia). They are a member of Applied Mechanics, Philadelphia's vanguard experimental theater company, and the lead singer of The Bandits, AppMech's resident punk band. Sazak is a queer, eco-feminist-anarchist whose art is a practice of shedding our collective colonial "griefcases" through ritual, humor, collage, and improvisation. Their art is a practice in decolonizing the human body-mind-soul, through art-making, story-telling, and community building. Sazak holds a BA in Drama from The University of Virginia ('11), and an MFA in Devised Performance from The University of the Arts/Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance ('18).

Imani Russell (they/them) is a Black+Boricua queer+trans+disabled multi-hyphenate artist from Crown Heights (unceded Lenape land). Trained in classical music, musical theatre, and acting, Russell has a BA in Drama from Vassar College and an MA in Musical Theatre from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. They have performed Off-Broadway, most recently in the Trans Entertainment Guild's production of The Civility of Albert Cashier (The Player's Theatre) and has also performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. In addition to the stage, Russell is an emerging voice actor. They also write music under the name NANí and recently released a two-song EP titled sweetbitter creature. Rusell believes in and creates in pursuit of Black queer+trans power and safety, indigenous sovereignty, and art as an act of love and community. //

Zhanna Zakharova (she/her) is from Republic Sakha Yakutia, northern eastern part of Russia. She expresses herself through different types of art. She started performing early in the kindergarten, either singing, dancing or playing khomus (a traditional Yakutian instrument). In Russia, she worked briefly as a teacher, then traveled to the US to study Fashion Merchandising, where she met the father of her two kids. Currently, Zhanna is working as a cosmetic tattoo artist (Instagram: @zhannazart) on the Lower East Side, helping people look and feel beautiful.

About Superhero Clubhouse

Superhero Clubhouse creates theater to enact climate and environmental justice, cultivate hope, and inspire a thriving future. We are an eco-theater company that makes original performances and offers creative resources for communities and collaborators from all walks of life: students, scientists, artists, organizers, teachers, policy-makers, and more. Our artistic processes bring people together across differences to model a regenerative society in response to the climate crisis. Our work is joyfully rooted in ecological knowledge, relationship to the land, and imagination as a powerful tool of future-building. Superhero Clubhouse is based in Lenapehoking (New York City), the occupied home of the Native Lenape people, whom we honor for their stewardship.

Superhero = powerful individuals dedicated to environmental justice

Clubhouse = an inclusive gathering place for serious play


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