On September 12, 1916, a circus elephant named Mary flew into a momentary rage on a very public street and killed her inexperienced handler, Walter “Red” Elridge in Kingsport, Tennessee. The following day, Sparks World Famous Shows proprietor Charlie Sparks reluctantly transported Mary 35 miles north to the town of Erwin. There, she was put to death before an audience of over 2500 in a bizarre display that resembled a public execution—or a lynching. The power required to electrocute the elephant was inconceivable at the time; tearing her apart with steam-powered locomotives was determined to be too grisly. Instead, she was hung by her neck from a railway crane.
News of the event spread, along with a photograph of Mary so haunting that its afterimage was burned into the public consciousness of the last century.
Any modern production of a Shakespeare work is necessarily a work fraught with concessions.
The Swine Palace’s production of The Taming of the Shrew, running until July 1 with nightly productions at 7:30 PM and matinees at 2 PM June 30 and July 1, has a running time of 70(ish) minutes with no intermission and is therefore somewhat truncated from the Bard’s 1590(ish) full work to make concessions for time. Gone is the open-ended framing device centered around the character of Sly, whose brief opening scene sets the tone for the rest of the comedy by introducing sowing the seeds of disguise and deceit to be paid off in the play proper.
Louisiana summers are, let’s be honest, miserable. Humidity, high temperatures, and a climate that has no middle ground between drought and flash-flood thunderstorms all make for an all-around terrible season. So, when one reads that Shakespeare writes to his ambiguously gendered object of affection that he or she is “more lovely” and “more temperate” than a summer’s day, the Louisiana reader usually responds “they’d have to be.”
Shakespeare himself will be the focal point of the Swine Palace’s summer series this year, so if you feel the need for cultural growth this summer, or your air conditioner goes kaput and you need a cool place to enjoy some entertainment this summer, LSU has you covered, holding the Swine Palace’s inaugural Summer Festival featuring three productions, all to be held in the LSU Studio Theatre in the Music and Dramatic Arts Building.