• A grey-toned drawing of an elephant hides behind bright green leaves, staring out with a single eye. The drawing is abstract yet detailed, with strong black pen strokes. Nestled in the leaves, the title, playwrite’s name, and series name are the bright and morphing colours of mango skin, moving subtly from light to dark across the words. Full text reads: “Matara. The elephant play. Conni Massing. Prairie Play Series”.

Matara: The Elephant Play


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978-1-77439-082-5 | 2023 October | 120 Pages


At a crumbling zoo, an elephant keeper, a security guard, and a newly hired media consultant have differing views over what should be done about the zoo’s main attraction, the aging Sri Lankan elephant Matara. Matara is deteriorating by the day following the loss of her companion elephant Cheerio and a petition is circulating to try to force the zoo’s management to move her to a sanctuary. Karen, Matara’s keeper, argues adamantly that the zoo is Matara’s home and family, and that she is not strong enough to travel. Romney, the enthusiastic but increasingly stressed media consultant, thinks more about donations and galas than Matara’s life, while Marcel the security guard and an international graduate student struggling in the last stages of his thesis, understands the perspective of the protestors even as he seeks to protect the zoo’s employees.

Weaving between the perspectives of public relations, zoos as unique spaces of human animal interaction, and the question of whether or not zoos should exist at all, Conni Massing’s latest play takes inspiration from real life debates that surround Lucy, the lone elephant at the Edmonton Valley Zoo, asking poignant questions about our relationships with animals, and the power dynamics and instability that surround them.

“Massing sure knows how to tell a story. Through often quite poetic asides, lectures, dialogue, monologues and speeches, she gives us a commentary on how her characters feel at any given moment.”
— Colin MacLean, gigcity.ca

“The thorny idea of 'home,' what it means, what it can legitimately claim to possess, what it plants in the heart, is everywhere in Conni Massing’s provocative, thoughtful, absorbing — and genuinely strange — new play Matara.”
— Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca

“Massing weaves the tale with her customary finesse. She even manages to work the beleaguered Edmonton riverboat into the story.”
— Liane Faulder, The Edmonton Journal