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Street theatre
May 6, 2006 2:05 PM   Subscribe

The Sultan's Elephant. A 42-ton wooden elephant materialises on the streets of London, thanks to Royal de Luxe (previously). The BBC has lots of background, including video (obligatory YouTube link). More from TimeOut and The Guardian.
posted by cbrody (35 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sorry, BBC video link should go here (video player crashes Firefox for me.)
posted by cbrody at 2:16 PM on May 6, 2006


cool.
posted by juv3nal at 2:34 PM on May 6, 2006


Marvelous visuals! What a delightful, whimsical idea! Thanks.
posted by nickyskye at 2:40 PM on May 6, 2006


dude, you beat me to it - I saw this today! totally utterly fantastic. I'll post pics in a sec.
posted by 6am at 2:51 PM on May 6, 2006


Saw the mysterious Jules Verne capsule embedded in the pavement at Waterloo Place on Thursday--returned to see the extraction of the Wooden Girl the next day and the lovely lovely Elephant-blowing water! The Girl proceeded to take a swing around the neighborhood on her bike. Amazing fun.
posted by stray at 2:54 PM on May 6, 2006


I'm planning to see it tomorrow morning as the elephant makes its way to Piccadilly. Some of the public-submitted pictures show children being carried on the girl's arms -- looks dangerous to me!
posted by cbrody at 3:16 PM on May 6, 2006


My photos from today. I ran out of memory after we got to the elephant, but I got loads of photos of the 'little girl'. The elephant was great though, I loved the operators in their perches working at the crazy hydraulic controls, it's like Labyrinth.
posted by 6am at 3:19 PM on May 6, 2006


hah, cbrody - we thought the kids on the arms was a bit bonkers too. They had to stop the elephant too since it wasn't going to get past trees hanging over the road - their solution? Chainsaw branches off! Legends.

it's cool: this pic is taken at almost exactly the same moment as this one of mine.
posted by 6am at 3:24 PM on May 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


He's so beautiful. Amazing.
posted by Isabeau Sahen at 3:56 PM on May 6, 2006


More from flickr:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/sultanselephant/interesting/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/royaldeluxe/interesting/
posted by vacapinta at 4:23 PM on May 6, 2006


Wow! This is lovely! Thanks everyone for your pictures!
posted by dog food sugar at 4:39 PM on May 6, 2006


If you're in London, this is unmissable. Drop everything and get there. The phrase "once in a lifetime" is over-used, but this is one of the times when it's not.
posted by Hogshead at 5:14 PM on May 6, 2006


Sucks to be US-ian, apparently. Looks like most fun, although, even with American exposure, I'd prolly not see it, as I live far from the major urban areas. Here's to hoping there's a DVD or some such.
posted by Samizdata at 5:43 PM on May 6, 2006


Some marketing executive somewhere is trying to figure out how to get his company's logo on the side of that thing...
posted by soiled cowboy at 5:45 PM on May 6, 2006


^ heh! I wouldn't be surprised.

Hogshead is right, if you're in London today (the 7th), and you haven't seen it yet, make it happen! I hadn't admitted this before, but since I heard other people say the exact same thing, I was actually a little choked up watching the little girl strut her stuff. Considerably more than I can say for any other street theatre I've seen! The whole idea, the show, the execution...it's totally pure.

Of course, following todays buzz it'll be rammed tomorrow, but go anyway!
posted by 6am at 6:18 PM on May 6, 2006


6am, your shot of the child riding on the Girl's arm and looking up into her eyes is unforgettable. Judging from the other photo, kids looking into her eyes is a common occurence. Amazing.
posted by bovious at 7:25 PM on May 6, 2006


Obligatory link to Lucy, who is way cooler (though the London one was asleep when I saw it).
posted by cillit bang at 7:31 PM on May 6, 2006


cillit bang: Lucy is cooler? Absolutely nowhere near. It's cartoonish and stationary, and does not look remotely cool at all.
Really, a poor attempt at oneupmanship on your part.
posted by Joeforking at 10:12 PM on May 6, 2006


I really, really wish I could see this.

Somehow I don't think they'll ever land in the US.
posted by flaterik at 10:26 PM on May 6, 2006


I am so jealous of anyone who can see this for themselves. And terribly impressed by the whole thing. It is a wonderful thing in a sometimes terrible world. Public displays of mobile beauty for its own sake - magic.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:43 PM on May 6, 2006


This looks beautiful.
posted by rdr at 11:14 PM on May 6, 2006


Chalk one up for the "doesn't get it" team.

Can somebody explain?
posted by rockabilly_pete at 12:48 AM on May 7, 2006


Try to imagine a three storey hydraulic elephant blasting water from its trunk, with a small army of red coated operators working levers to make the thing go, a house on its back with dancing girls and a sultan stamping through piccadilly circus surrounded by thousands of people followed by a full live band blasting out happy music...on its way to meet at 16 foot wooden girl who arrived in a wooden rocket from space, operated by a similar team of redcoats who leap about like lunatics to make her move.

The word is 'event'.
posted by 6am at 7:12 AM on May 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


I wish I had known about this in advance so I could go. Do they have an RSS feed so I find about the next one and be there?
posted by srboisvert at 7:29 AM on May 7, 2006


I am absolutely gutted that I wasn't fit to go and see this (I just had surgery). Everyone I know went to see it and said it was awesome.
posted by essexjan at 10:04 AM on May 7, 2006


Does it squat and pee?
posted by found missing at 10:33 AM on May 7, 2006


This looks very cool.

What a delightful, whimsical idea!

I'd just like to point out that cool shit like this is on every single streetcorner at Burning Man.

[ducks]
posted by scarabic at 10:48 AM on May 7, 2006


That may be so scarabic, but this wasn't in the middle of the desert with no one to see it but a few burnt out hippies.

[ducks]

This was in central flippin' London! Thanks to this thread I went to see the finale today and I am so glad I did. A truly amazing sight and one which I feel lucky to have witnessed. Thanks cbrody.
posted by MrMustard at 10:58 AM on May 7, 2006


Lucy is cooler? Absolutely nowhere near.

I finally saw the Sultan's elephant in action today and I have to say I was barely whelmed. It may move but it's not like it did anything interesting. I guess the trunk was a neat bit of engineering.
posted by cillit bang at 11:02 AM on May 7, 2006


Hee hee! At the end, they lowered her into her spaceship, then with the crane lowered the pointy top over her. The elephant blew steam into a hole in the side. The music grew louder and louder, and steam and smoke started rising from the bottom of the ship, thick and white. The music peaked as the steam grew thick enough to hide the ship, and then silence.

Then, as the smoke blew away, the crane lifted the top of the ship away--the Wooden Girl was gone.

The elephant lowered his trunk and his head, and closed his eyes. The operators climbed down, and into an open top double decker. They stood, looking down at the crowd, and drove away from Horse Guard Parade.

As I left, I noticed that the Elephant was breathing, almost snoring--not dead or off, just sleeping!
posted by stray at 12:44 PM on May 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'd just like to point out that cool shit like this is on every single streetcorner at Burning Man.

And Glastonbury too, but as MrMustard said: this was in the busiest part of a capital city. You expect mad shit like this at festivals...

The elephant lowered his trunk and his head, and closed his eyes. The operators climbed down, and into an open top double decker. They stood, looking down at the crowd, and drove away from Horse Guard Parade.

heh, leaving the Horse Guard to look after the elephant for the rest of its life. Wait though, the girl disappeared? Like David Copperfield style?
posted by 6am at 5:47 PM on May 7, 2006


Yup. Smoke, bang, poof!
posted by stray at 12:14 AM on May 8, 2006


Can anyone explain what's up with the "stitched" cars here?

The ropes look like they go right into the road surface.
posted by splatta at 6:16 AM on May 8, 2006


I think the girl was supposed to have done it for fun.
posted by 6am at 8:39 AM on May 8, 2006


There's over 2000 photos of the event at the Flickr Pool page. Some of them are by me.

If you can't understand what was wonderful about a thirty-foot elephant walking through central London and a little giant stitching cars to the road with rope, then your inner child is dead.
posted by Hogshead at 6:24 PM on May 9, 2006


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