Big Mary

Big Mary $12.99

Mark Medoff

Published by Dramatists Play Service

Large Mixed Cast
It is the summer of 1916, and the circus has come to the small town of Eddington, Tennessee

But the star of the show, an elephant named Big Mary, ("the largest land animal in captivity") is not happy, as her trainer, Maurice Weglellen, is about to be married to a local belle, Ella Mae Clayshulte, and to commit his charge to the questionable care of his assistant, Red Lavelette

Disrupting the wedding ceremony, and then trotting off after the newlyweds, Big Mary reacts angrily to Red's attempts to bring her to heel by giving him a fatal toss over her head - which presents the townspeople with the problem of how to deal with crime by an elephant

The nearsighted mayor decides to mete out justice with a gun (but succeeds only in wounding an innocent bystander); the sheriff nervously (and without effect) orders Big Mary to cease and desist; and only the local black preacher, Rev Stokes, appears to keep his head

Eventually everybody in town gets involved in the situation, and despite the pleading of Badger McQueen, a young black orphan girl who wants desperately to join the circus (black people can't in 1916), "wiser" heads prevail and it is ordained that Big Mary must hang

Which, with the help of Old Bud Fenwick's derrick, she does - to the enlightenment of all, for, as the Rev Stokes ironically points out, "children learn what they learn from their elders" - which, it is hoped, means from the bad examples as well as from the good

Originally written for high school age performers, and first performed by forty actors from ten different high schools in the Great Valley (Pennsylvania) School District, this vividly theatrical play can be produced effectively with half that many actors, and with the roles played by individuals either older, or younger, than the text suggests

Using the simplest of means to tell its antic story of the day "they hung the elephant in Eddington, Tennessee" the play also carries a strong and pertinent message about racial prejudice, the mindless power of an alarmed mob, and the unreasoning fears which ignorance and lack of compassion can generate

Browse Library

About Stageplays

Stageplays offers you the largest collection of Plays & Musicals in the world.

Based in the UK and the USA, we’ve been serving the online theatre community since the last century. We’re primarily a family-run business and several of us also work in professional theatre.

But we’re all passionate about theatre and we all work hard to share that passion with you and the world’s online community.

Subscribe to our theatre newsletter

We'll email you regular details of new plays and half-price special offers on a broad range of theatre titles.


We can deliver any play in print to any country in the world - and we ship from both the US and the UK.

© 2010 - 2022 Stageplays, Inc.