Studio Series brings “Elephant Graveyard” and “God” to WKU

Jasper, Ind., freshman Shalyn Grow and New Albany, Ind., freshman Ethan Corder rehearse on Monday for the play, “God,” written by Woody Allen. The play, which is directed by Andrew Mertz, will premiere on Monday, March 31. (Josh Newell/HERALD)

Kristina Burton

In the WKU Department of Theatre and Dance’s Studio Series, directing students are encouraged to try new approaches to theatre. This year’s series presents “God” by Woody Allen and “Elephant’s Graveyard” by George Brant on March 31 and April 1.

“God” presents a unique experience to the audience as they become part of the story. Subtitled “A Comedy in One Act,” it was first published in 1975, along with “Death”, and other short stories in Woody Allen’s book “Without Feathers”.

Jillian Weinzapfel, a senior from Evansville, In., plays the role of chorus member in “God”.

“Our chorus serves as comic relief on top of an already comedic show,” Weinzapfel said. “It just adds an extra layer of comedy.”

Andrew Mertz, a second-year Louisville senior, is the director of “God”.

“What drew me to direct this play is its use of audience interaction and participation,” Mertz said. “It makes the concept of a ‘fourth wall’ disappear. It’s structured as a look at reality.”

Mertz said he enjoys being able to see his ideas come to life.

“When I’m reading a play, I see a movie played out in my head,” Mertz said. “Through rehearsal, casting, etc. I’m seeing that movie come to life. It’s real people out there.”

Weinzapfel said she has enjoyed seeing how the cast has come together.

“It started out as a conglomeration of random people,” Weinzapfel said. “Seeing the cast come together through this process has been really fun to watch and be a part of.”

Mertz said he hopes everybody over the age of 18 will come out and see “God”.

“It delivers a hard subject through laughter,” Mertz said. “It gives that power and realization that you can do what you want to do. Just because you’ve been told something your whole life, you can feel that you need to do something else.”

Weinzapfel said she wants audiences to have a good time.

“Being able to go to the theatre and laugh is cathartic,” Weinzapfel said. “You might not see all of the issues within the show because they’re pretty far out, but you can at least laugh and have a good time watching us make fools of ourselves.”

Mertz said “God” is a show that people should see if they want to laugh and enjoy live theatre at the same time.

“It’s non-stop joke after joke,” Mertz said. “And there’s something about live theatre that you can’t ever duplicate. It’s a totally new environment that can affect people more than TV or a movie.”

Weinzapfel said “God” breaks down the preconceived notion that theatre is boring.

“It’s not typical theatre,” Weinzapfel said. “It’s a far-fetched hilarious show.”

Kirsten Kellersberger, a Salvisa sophomore, plays a young townsperson in “Elephant’s Graveyard”.

“I fell in love with the script,” Kellersberger said. “It’s moving, powerful, and such an ensemble piece. We forget we’re individual people because there’s such a group mindset about it.”

“Elephant’s Graveyard” takes the audience back to 1916 and tells the true story of a circus tragedy. The play combines historical fact and legend, exploring the deep-seated American craving for spectacle, violence and revenge.

Lena Buechler, a senior from Priceville, Al., is the director of “Elephant’s Graveyard”.

“I chose ‘Elephant’s Graveyard because of its emotional complexity,” Buechler said. “It’s wonderfully written with its use of asides to the audience to draw them in.”

Kellersberger said that very early on, the cast put their scripts aside and worked on their characters and connections.

From very early on, the put their scripts aside, Kellersberger said, and worked on their characters and connections.

“To have a big cast in which every single person is equally devoted and excited about the process and the play—that enthusiasm just catches like a wildfire,” Kellersberger said.

Buechler said she’s enjoyed seeing the relationships the cast has formed.

“They have such a passion for the play,” Buechler said.

“All of them love it so much and they’re giving their all. It’s a wonderful creative environment with everyone collaborating and working together.”

“Elephant’s Graveyard” can have lots of different meanings, Kellersberger said.

“I think that’s part of the point is for people to take away different things,” Kellersberger said.

“I hope people look past the façade of specific place and look past meanings and metaphors it has to areas outside of that. I hope they let the messages sink in.”

Buechler said she hopes people from all walks of life come to see “Elephant’s Graveyard”.

“Anyone inquisitive and interested in who we are as a society would love this play,” Buechler said.

Kellersberger thinks people will change after seeing this play.

“Something about this play will make you look at something differently,” Kellersberger said.

“It’s a good change and experience, though. We’re all there together to experience it, and there’s something special about that.”

Beyond everything the play is about, Buechler said it’s also just a really good show.

“It’s captivating, musical, and enjoyable,” Buechler said. “If people want to see a show that will really grip them until the end and provide them with an experience they won’t forget on an emotional level, they should absolutely come see this play.”

The Studio Series of “Elephant’s Graveyard” and “God” begin at 8 p.m. March 31-April 1 at the Lab Theatre in Gordon Wilson Hall. All tickets are $5 and may be purchased online at or by calling (270) 745-3121.