Broadway-Bound ‘Aanika’s Elephants’ Premiere and Sesame Street Panel Coming to Center for Puppetry Arts
ATLANTA (August 2023) – An original work produced by a cohort of “Sesame Street” writers, designers, and performers will premiere at the Center for Puppetry Arts on August 17th and run through September 3rd.
The star-studded “Sesame Street” cohort behind this new production includes Emmy Award-winning writer Annie Evans, director Pam Arciero (performer of Grundgetta Grouch and assorted other characters), production designer Martin (Marty) P. Robinson (Mr. Snuffleupagus, Telly Monster, and various other characters), and Emmy-award winning composer Paul Rudolph.
“We are beyond thrilled to partner with this extraordinary group of artists to bring ‘Aanika’s Elephants’ to the Center. It’s a powerful story about the transformative power of one girl’s strength, courage, and compassion. Beyond the benefit of presenting new voices and interpretations of puppetry to Atlanta, there is the added excitement of welcoming back some of the Center’s most treasured alumni who have found success as part of the beloved ‘Sesame Street’.” – Beth Schiavo, Executive Director of the Center for Puppetry Arts.
One former Center for Puppetry Arts and current “Sesame Street” puppeteer, Jimmica Collins, is the lead performer in “Aanika’s Elephants. While helping her father at an elephant sanctuary, Aanika befriends Little, an orphaned baby elephant she nurses back to health after an injury. The two grow up together the way only two young girls can -even if one has a trunk.
When Aanika’s father suddenly dies, she flees into the African savannah to escape the fate of living with her uncle and sacrificing her work at the sanctuary. Eventually, Little joins Aanika and they are adopted by a small herd of elephants. Aanika learns and thrives among the beautiful, civil ways of her new elephant family. When the family is threatened by poachers, Aanika’s courage and fierce protective instincts emerge to protect the herd.
“Aanika’s Elephants” was inspired by Evans’ fascination with elephants, particularly their loyalty and their matriarchal hierarchy. After joining the Earthwatch Institute team and studying the migration patterns of elephants she was inspired to write a story about these majestic creatures.
“When I returned to New York, I pondered how to write a story about these beautiful animals and their amazing culture. I churned out scripts for children’s television shows for fifteen more years, waiting for an idea to come to me. It finally did…young orphan girl and an orphan elephant in the bush becoming their own loving family… and that was it for the moment!” – Annie Evans, Writer and Producer of “Aanika’s Elephants”
“Aanika’s Elephants” blends music with a delightful array of Rod and Czech Black puppetry styles and whimsical humor to entertain and educate us about the current plight facing elephants in today’s world.
In addition to Jimmica Collins, the cast includes Troy (Latoryah) Alexander, Jared Brodie, Bradley Freeman Jr., Arianna Hardaway, Cedwan Hooks, Jean Marie Keevins, and Reay Maxwell.
To learn more about the celebrity production team and cast, visit: puppet.org/programs/aanikas-elephant/
SESAME STREET PANEL
In addition to the performance, on August 19th at 7 pm, the Center is offering a special event: Sesame Street Panel with Marty Robinson, Pam Arciero, and Annie Evans which will be moderated by Sesame Street puppeteer, Jimmica Collins. This is an incredibly unique opportunity to hear directly from some of the most influential and experienced people in puppetry. After guests enjoy video snippets from the artists’ careers, a panel discussion will offer a behind-the-scenes look at how the magic of puppetry comes to life. The panel will also share insights on their process and the development of new works including “Aanika’s Elephants.” After the panel, guests will have the opportunity to participate in a meet-and-greet with Robinson, Arciero, and Evans.
To learn more about the Sesame Street Panel or to buy tickets, visit: puppet.org/programs/sesame-street-panel-with-marty-robinson-pam-arciero-and-annie-evans/
“Aanika’s Elephants” is a production by Feisty Elephant Productions, Little Shadow Productions, and Pam Arciero Productions in association with the Center for Puppetry Arts.
An all-inclusive Center ticket includes a performance of “Aanika’s Elephants,” admission to the Worlds of Puppetry Museum, special museum exhibitions, and the Create-A-Puppet Workshop™, where guests can build a Baby Elephant Hand Puppet, inspired by a character from the performance. Ticket prices are $22 for children and adults. VIP tickets are also available and include premiere front-section seating.
To learn more or buy tickets, visit: puppet.org/programs/aanikas-elephant/
Click here for a complete list of the Center’s major supporters.
Center for Puppetry Arts® is a unique cultural treasure – a magical place where children and adults are educated, enlightened and entertained. Since 1978, the Center has introduced millions of visitors to the wonder and art of puppetry and has touched the lives of many through enchanting performances, curriculum-based workshops and the hands-on Museum, as well as Digital Learning and Outreach programs. Center for Puppetry Arts is a non-profit, 501(c) (3) organization and is supported in part by contributions from corporations, foundations, government agencies and individuals. Major funding is provided by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners and the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. These programs are also supported in part by the Georgia Council for the Arts through the appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly. GCA is a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. The Center is a member of Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA/USA/ASSITEJ). The Center also serves as the headquarters of UNIMA-USA, the American branch of Union Internationale de la Marionnette, the international puppetry organization.