Photo by Rio Che featuring Zhanna Zakharova
Superhero Clubhouse presents
Written by Lanxing Fu
Directed by Nana Dakin
Performed by Jen Anaya*, Imani Russell, Izzy Sazak, and Zhanna Zakharova
Production Design by Alejandro Fajardo
Costume Design by kindall houston almond
Crankie Design by Lexy Ho-Tai
Associate Production Designer Cosette Pin
Music Composed by Trevor New
Lyrics by Lanxing Fu
Music Direction by Erika Ji
Additional Music by Treya Lam
Sound Design and Engineering by Trevor New
Additional Sound Design by Eva von Schweinitz
Stage Managed by Rachel Denise April
Assistant Stage Managed by Olivia Kurima
Assistant Director Belle Le
Understudied by Belle Le and Jackie Rivera
Produced by Jem Pickard
Production Managed by Kelly Lamanna
Creative Marketing Producer Emily C. Bell
Press Representative John Wyszniewski, Everyman Agency
Production Interns Nisani Walser and Wells Mundell-Wood
Graphic Design by Alexandra Kwiatkoski and Lanxing Fu
House Technician Wyatt Moniz
Board Operator Isabella DiBlassio
House Manager Alessandra Ruiz
Box Office Manager Wells Mundell-Wood
SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTIST BIOS
Run time: 100 minutes with no intermission.
NOTE: there are members of our company with disabilities and sensitive immune systems. Please wear your mask fully covering your nose and mouth throughout the duration of the performance.
“Covered in Ice”- music by Trevor New, lyrics by Lanxing Fu
“Searching”- music by Treya Lam, lyrics by Lanxing Fu
“Child of Many Lands”- music by Trevor New, lyrics by Lanxing Fu
“Wonder”- music by Trevor New, lyrics by Lanxing Fu
“Flowers in Good Soil”- music by Trevor New, lyrics by Lanxing Fu
This production was designed and built using ecological production practices. All of our costumes had a life before this, are second hand, or were built using donated or found fabrics. Our primary scenic element is called erosion cloth, which is built to decompose. All of our lights are efficient LEDs that use a very small amount of energy. At the end of our run, all materials that we do not keep for future use will be diverted from landfill via local reuse, upcycling, and donation centers.
Mammelephant was developed over several years through a collaborative process. There are many co-creators of this piece, and many voices that influenced our script. We especially wish to celebrate early co-creators Eva von Schweinitz, Treya Lam, Sergio Botero, and William Cook.
Gratitude to additional past collaborators: Alana Raquel Bowers, Ciara Cornelius, Ashni Dave, Zoë Geltman, Serena Ebony Miller, Mariko Takizawa, Priscilla Villanueva, Sim Yan Ying.
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 February 2018 at the Dragon’s Egg Retreat Center.
Jay Cohen, Megan Paradis Hanley, Michael L McCurdy, Ryan Naso, Vera Solovyeva, Cody Umans, Ekaterina Zakharova, the team of How to Dance in Ohio.
And to all of our generous supporters over the past three years, THANK YOU! We truly couldn’t have made Mammelephant without you.
Mammelephant is funded in part thanks to support from the New York State Council of the Arts, MAP Fund, and Puffin Foundation.
*Member of Actors’ Equity Association
THE WORLD OF MAMMELEPHANT
The Permafrost is Thawing
The Arctic is covered in permafrost— soil and other organic materials that have been PERMAnently FROzen for millions of years. The permafrost also stores a huge amount of methane and carbon dioxide. As the planet gets hotter, the Arctic permafrost is rapidly thawing.
The thawing permafrost is pockmarking the land with new lakes, eroding coastlines, defrosting ancient microbes, and creating a scary feedback loop of warming and thawing. If all the permafrost thaws, it will release TWICE the CO2 that is currently in our atmosphere.
The People of the Permafrost
The Indigenous Sakha people have lived in northeastern Siberia for thousands of years, adapting to the harsh climate and wilderness through ancient survival practices and traditional ways of coexisting with land. But the Sakha Republic is built on permafrost.
Climate change has a disproportionate impact on Arctic communities. The thawing land is already causing homes to sink, roads to buckle, and bridges to collapse. Underground freezers, built into the permafrost, aren’t keeping food or ice cold. Sakha is also experiencing unprecedented forest fires, multiple times bigger than California’s. Soon, the Sakha people will have no choice but to move away from their ancestral homeland.
The Hope of Grasslands
There aren’t many ways to prevent permafrost from thawing. One possible solution is to turn the Arctic tundra back into the grasslands of the last Ice Age (the “Mammoth Steppe” ecosystem), when large mammals stomped down the insulating snow, fertilized the reflective grasses, and pushed over sun-absorbent trees.
This experiment, called Pleistocene Park, is happening right now in a remote part of the Sakha Republic. So far, results are promising: in the areas where horses, musk ox, and yaks have been introduced, the permafrost remains frozen.
The Return of the Mammoth
Meanwhile, geneticists are in the process of creating a mammoth-elephant hybrid creature to add to Pleistocene Park, the star species in the grasslands experiment. Soon, we might be able to see a living Woolly Mammoth (or something close to it) roaming the icy plains.
But who is this first “mammelephant,” plucked from time and alone in the world? What will their life be like? And what can we learn from them about resilience to crisis and adaptation in the face of loss and displacement?
A NOTE ABOUT HOPE
by Production Intern Nisani Walser
Staying hopeful is always a work in progress, a conscious choice to be made daily in the face of the interconnected challenges that make up the climate crisis. Racism, inequity, and capitalism have caused Black and Indigenous communities and people of color to be disproportionately impacted by climate change and environmental problems. It sometimes seems like these issues are getting worse every day. It’s easy to slip into a pattern of despair; to convince ourselves that the darkness is everlasting.
As a 20-year-old young Black woman born and raised in Lenapehoking (Brooklyn), and studying Human Ecology, I sometimes get discouraged when I learn about how social and environmental problems connect to each other and remember that I’m more susceptible to both climatic and racial injustices, being in a Black body. However, the same force in me that spurred the discouragement in the first place eventually transforms back to a place of groundedness and hope. In the midst of all going on, I know in my heart that there is more to this. The same interconnectedness that can bring us down can also push us forward, if we’re able to tap into our individual and collective power and move with intention.
Superhero Clubhouse has a tool called “Tangible Hope” that they use in their creative work. It means uplifting the many examples of positive progress toward a just world that are all around us, while also embracing loss and grief along the way. The idea of Tangible Hope reminds me that there are bold people everywhere using whatever knowledge, skills, and power they have to imagine new futures, practice new ways of being together, and inspire future generations to do the same with the reality they’ve inherited.
I see hope as a primal instinct for resilience, a constant search for better, even during the darkest times. Tangible Hope is empowerment as well as acceptance, a source of strength as well as humility, even when it doesn’t seem like we can go on.
I hope you enjoy our show, and that your experience helps you believe that you have the power to create better tomorrows. I want to leave you with some resources to help with that. I chose these resources because they make me feel hopeful.
Climate Venn Diagram by Ayana Eleizabeth Johnson
AFTER MAMMELEPHANT… NOW WHAT?
Resources gathered by Production Intern Nisani Walser
SUPPORT SAKHA PEOPLE
Donate directly to Sakha elder Vera Solovyev, who will distribute funds to Sakha asylum-seekers living in the United Stakes. PayPal: firstname.lastname@example.org
LEARN ABOUT THE INDIGENOUS LAND YOU OCCUPY
www.native-land.ca, and then…
GET INVOLVED WITH LAND BACK
Landback U: A Curriculum on How to Join the Fight to Return Land to Indigenous Hands
Launched in 2021, Landback University offers modules in a “comprehensive, online learning platform to engage in political education and discussions on topics critical to the Indigenous movement to reclaim land and relationship to land”
Landback – Art
An extension of the Land Back Movement centered around current work of 20 indigenous artists and community members to place 20 billboards across Turtle Island (North America) to return indigenous land back into indigenous hands.
READ: We Can’t Solve The Climate Crisis Unless Black Lives Matter
Black marine biologist and author Ayana Elizabeth Johnson’s critical piece on how social and environmental justice go hand in hand and the importance of raising the communities most impacted as “Solving the climate crisis is about everything. So we need to find ways that everyone can be a part of this transformation”.
LEARN: A Just Transition for philanthropy: Equity means moving more money to frontline communities
How funders can frame their contributions towards the climate crisis.
QUESTION: Circular Economy, utopia or promising new business model? An evaluation of Circular Economy efficiency against environmental challenges
Questions to ask when thinking about sustainability to create an economy that supports people, profit and the planet.
STRATEGIZE: Follow Movement Generation’s guide to a Just Transition from our current extractive economy to a regenerative economy.
New York Youth Climate Leaders
A organization of youth across New York state that “coordinates and empowers youth to to advocate for comprehensive, equitable, and effective climate solutions”
KINDALL HOUSTON ALMOND (she/they) left Colorado at age 18 for New York, although the Southwestern upbringing still fuels and inspires much of kindall’s work. Holding a B.F.A. from Pratt Institute in Fashion Design, kindall has recently graduated with an M.F.A. from NYU Tisch, and pursues the telling of a deeper, visual story through the art of Costume Design, and more completely, through the study and practice of Production Design. www.kindallalmond.com
RACHEL DENISE APRIL (they/she) is a Guyanese-American multi-hypenated Theatre Artist. Select Credits include: soft (MCC) Chicken and Biscuits (Queens Theatre), Retreat Workshop (National Black Theatre), Big Green Theater Festival (Superhero Clubhouse) The Hole (Zhailon Levingston), Neptune (Timothy DuWhite). She has worked on projects throughout the United States with the In[heir]itance Project, and internationally with Different Translation. She is currently a Creative Partner of Different Translation.
JEN ANAYA (they/them)
Jen Anaya 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, mutli-disciplinary piece that focuses on the healing of intergenerational trauma. They’ll next be seen at La Jolla Playhouse in late August reprising their role as Mariposa in Fandango for Butterflies (and Coyotes). Jenanaya.com
EMILY BELL (she/her) is a communications professional, podcaster and photographer from St. Louis, Missouri (Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, O-ga-xpa Ma-zhoⁿ, Myaamia, Osage, Kaskaskia, and Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo) land). She has worked across fields, including independent media, fashion sustainability, and the arts to create compelling narratives and support creatives through digital storytelling. Emily is also currently the Communications & Office Manager at the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, and one of the creators of Unsettled, an independent podcast about Israel, Palestine and the Jewish diaspora. She graduated from NYU’s Gallatin School for Individualized Study, and enjoys spending time running, drinking seltzer, pet sitting, and thinking about monuments and collective memory.
NANA DAKIN (she/her) 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. She is a Core Member of B-Floor Theatre, Thailand’s most highly awarded theatre company, and of Superhero Clubhouse. Upcoming: BIG ZOO (Tisch Drama Stage). Recent: LOST COAST (The Playwrights Realm INK’D Festival), PASSAGE (University of North Carolina School of the Arts), SORRY/NOT SORRY (Ars Nova Digital ANT Fest), SUNWATCHER (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater Global Forms Festival, Ancram Opera House Play Lab, Civilians FINDINGS Series), LOVE LETTER TO A SEED (Clubbed Thumb Winterworks), WHITE PEARL (Royal Court Theatre), RICHARD III (Lenfest Center for the Arts). She has developed new work at Atlantic Theater Company, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Theater Mu, New York Theatre Workshop, The Song Collective, and The Tank. MFA Theatre Directing: Columbia University. www.nanadakin.com
ALEJANDRO FAJARDO (he/him) is a Colombian lighting designer based in Lenapehoking/Brooklyn. Alejandro strongly believes that art and imagination can help guide our communities through the current crises we face and build a new future that centers community care and growth. His recent credits include regional theater (Two River Theatre Co, Trinity Rep, St. Ann’s Warehouse), dance performances (Michiyaya Dance, Danspace Projects, Kafka Collective), performance festivals (NYC Free: a month long performance festival at Little Island Park, Fall for Dance at NY City Center). Alejandro also designs escape, theatrical immersive, site lighting for music, fashion shows and other commercial events. Alejandro is a Core Member of Superhero Clubhouse.
LANXING FU (she/her) is a Chinese-American theater artist and co-director of Superhero Clubhouse. 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. In addition to writing Mammelephant, Lanxing was the program director of The Living Stage NYC (University Settlement / LES Meltzer Senior Center), a co-creator of PLUTO (The Brick) and JUPITER (La MaMa), and is the current program director of Big Green Theater, SHC’s eco-playwriting program for young people. While in residence at IIASA in Austria, Lanxing created Piece of Cake, a play written in response to Dr. Fabian Wagner’s research on population and climate change. Her essays “Building Possibility in the Age of Climate Change” and “The Birth of a Climate Commons” are published on HowlRound. She has been a workshop facilitator and speaker with The New School, Asian American Arts Alliance, Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, CESTEMER, and more. She was a member of TCG’s 2019 Conference Committee on Climate and was one of TCG’s 2020 Rising Leaders of Color.
LEXY HO-TAI (she/her) has a multi-disciplinary art and teaching practice that explores imaginative and tangible world-building through craft and play. Working in a range of mediums, her collaborative and participatory work employs humor, imagination, and absurdity to invite viewers to contemplate pressing social and environmental issues. Residencies include the Watermill Center, Flux Factory, Everglades National Park, and Elsewhere Museum. Lexy is a Core Member of Superhero Clubhouse.
ERIKA JI (she/her)’s music has been featured Off-Broadway and around the world at Lincoln Center, the Public Theater, and more. In addition to music directing Mammelephant, she is currently composing the dystopian circus fantasia concept album VISARE (winner of the 2021 New Voices Project) and the musical Yoko’s Husband’s Killer’s Japanese Wife, Gloria (5th Avenue Theatre commission). www.erikaji.com
OLIVIA KURIMA (she/her) is a queer, japanese-american stage manager from Houston,Texas (Atakapa and Karankawa Lands). She is currently a 3rd Year student at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts where she is majoring in Stage Management and minoring in Arts Entrepreneurship. Most recently, Olivia was seen as one of the stage managers for UNCSA’s first production with an all asian cast and hopes to continue to create theatrical spaces that allow for more authentic asian representation both on and off the stage. When not in the theater, she can be found reading a new novel or manga, trying out a new baking recipe, or practicing her japanese.
KELLY LAMANNA (she/her) is a theater practitioner of many hats, artistic and administrative. In June, she is performing her original work The Gambler with collaborator Rawya El Chab, presented by the Exponential Festival at the Loading Dock Theater. She has worked closely with Target Margin Theater, Meta-Phys Ed, and Minor Theater. She curates the ongoing collaborative project Your Uncle Richard.
BELLE LE (she/her) is a queer, Vietnamese-American artist born in Saigon, Vietnam and raised in San Jose, California (Muwekma Ohlone Land.) She recently graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts School of Drama with a BFA in acting, and she is in love with people, the sun, art, and her 3 small dogs. Belle is passionate about telling Asian stories and creating unapologetic art, specifically about social rights and mental health advocacy.
WELLS MUNDELL-WOOD (they/she) is a performer, observer, and enthusiast of all things art. They have lived in six different places along the east coast, but have spent most of their life in Bangor, Maine (Penobscot territory) and Brattleboro, Vermont (Abenaki land). She is currently a rising second year at NYU, majoring in acting at Tisch and pursuing a double minor in Performance Studies and Social & Cultural Analysis. Though they have always felt most at home on and around the stage, Wells strives not to confine themselves to a single discipline and holds an array of passions including environmental justice and liberation, writing, and “hot girl walks” (highly recommended)!
TREVOR NEW (he/him) is a composer, classically trained Violist, and technologist that explores many contexts through music, visuals, and storytelling. His current projects are focused on exploring how we are connected, how we can make music and together, in-person or not, and how these connections can effect the time and space we see as separate. Apart from writing for orchestra and smaller ensembles his work as a sound designer, engineer/producer, and performer can be found in a variety of media, including film scores, arranging, electronic music, TV.
JEM PICKARD (they/he) founded Superhero Clubhouse in 2007 as a homebase for theatrical experimentation around environmental crises. Their first play, URANUS (a play about waste), launched what would become the Planet Plays, a series of nine interconnected stories about the Anthropocene. Over the past 15 years Jem has co-created dozens of works of eco-theater including Flying Ace and the Storm of the Century!, Salty Folk: An Oyster Musical, and Core of Me: A Hike-Play. From 2009-2020 Jem co-created and directed the Big Green Theater eco-playwriting program for public school students, now in its 13th year. Jem wears many hats including director, producer, writer, and performer. Their published essays include “On Eco-Theater” (TCG), “Temporary Communities in the Era of Climate Change” (No Passport), and “A Climate of Change” (American Theatre Magazine, March 2020).
COSETTE PIN (he/she/they) is an international, multi-disciplinary designer and artist based out of New York City. They have been designing lighting, sound, projections, and sets for theatre and live performance for the past 12 years across Canada, The United States, and the UK. A graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada in Production Design and Technical Arts, they are excited to be working on this beautiful piece of community storytelling. Recent design credits include Box 4901 (Timeshare Productions, Lighting Design), Into the Woods (Secret Theatre, Set Design), House of Spirits (Meyer2Meyer, Lighting Design), The Gambler (Exponential Theatre Festival, Set and Projection Design). Their work is available at: www.cosettepin.com
IZZY SAZAK (they/them) is a “turkish-colombian-american” transdisciplinary artist, world-builder, theater-maker, singer, educator and emergent organizer. they live, work and play on Lenape Land (philadelphia). they are an associate artist of Delaware Shakespeare, and a company member of Applied Mechanics, philadelphia’s vanguard experimental theater company. they also moonlight as the lead singer of The Bandits; AppMech’s resident punk band. izzy is a queer, genderful, eco-feminist-abolitionist whose art and process is a practice in shedding our collective colonial “griefcases”; investigating magic, ancestral healing and belonging as a radical form of resistance thru writing & performance. izzy is one of many co-conspirators in the project known as the new philly aesthetic. they are delighted to invite you into the world of Mammelephant.
JACKIE RIVERA (they/them) is a Puerto Rican, queer, non-binary actor and theatermaker occupying Lenape land in Brooklyn. Performance credits include New York Live Arts (opposite Judith Butler), The Brick, BRICLab, New Georges, and most recently as Diane in Hurricane Diane at Kitchen Theatre Company in Ithaca. They’re a member of the queer, trans and women-led collective, The Syndicate, and toured the country on bikes with Agile Rascal Bicycle Touring Theatre. They have a BFA in Acting from NWSA/University of Florida and an MFA in Performance and Performance Studies from Pratt Institute. Their thesis film, Tiny Dyke; Van Life, a queer-clown and puppetry exploration of their real-life journey living in their van is available at www.jackie-rivera.com
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, Imani has a BA in Drama from Vassar College and an MA in Musical Theatre from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Imani has 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, Imani is an emerging voice actor. They also write music under the name NANí and recently released a two-song EP titled sweetbitter creature. Imani believes in and creates in pursuit of Black queer+trans power and safety, indigenous sovereignty, and art as an act of love and community. // www.imanirussell.com
NISANI WALSER (she/her) is a production intern for Superhero Clubhouse. She is a proud native Brooklynite and rising college senior getting her Bachelors degree in Human Ecology at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, ME. She has an immense love for interdisciplinary learning, some of her favorite subjects being philosophy, the languages, environmental studies and the performing arts. She is looking to combine these interests through journalism and hopes to learn more on how artistic choices create social, political and environmental change for the betterment of the world. Nisani is also an avid performer who has been doing so since the young age of 10. Her work with Superhero Clubhouse builds upon her previous work with The Public Theatre, performing in As You Like It (2017) Twelfth Night (2018) and Hercules (2019) at the Delacorte in Central Park.
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 aka jaw harp). 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 (ig @zhannazart) on the Lower East Side, helping people look and feel beautiful.
SUPERHERO CLUBHOUSE creates theater to enact climate and environmental justice, cultivate hope, and inspire a thriving future. We make original performances and offer 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 and disciplines 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, with respect to our Shinnecock, Wampanoag, Haudenosaunee neighbors. In the spirit of making erased histories visible, we pay respect to their elders past, present, and future, and thank them for their continued stewardship of the land. We recognize that land acknowledgement is simply one small step towards reconciliation and building right relationship with native people and native land.