MONDAY 17 OCT 2016 12:28 PM


Forming the backbone of most modern communication methods, written content can be uninspiring and social media a chore. And, while attending live productions is a unique and fascinating experience, it is sometimes impractical for those unable to access a suitable venue.

Video is often used to clarify messages lost in the melee of pictures and words we are confronted with on a daily basis, effective if the story presented is underpinned with emotion and a thoughtful storyline.

Transferring a stage play to cinema screen, and swapping a live performance for ten gruelling hours of filming, is therefore risky – but, given the right production and acting talent, can succeed.

Adapted by creative content studio, Found Studio, gritty stage play The Dog & The Elephant has, for the first time, been acted, directed and written to be performed on the big screen. Written by Matt Grinter, winner of the Papatango New Writing Prize 2016, The Dog & The Elephant script is based on an original one-man stage production first performed in 2015 in the Vaults, London, and the Bristol Old Vic Theatre.

The Dog & the Elephant follows the story of Bendigo Barlow, a bare-knuckle Romani boxer who finds solace from past troubles in the Victorian circus. In particular, his emotions become invested in an elephant named Ina. Cinematographer, Nicholas Bennett, worked with director Mike Sharpe, who is a partner and creative director at Found Studio, to perfect the cinematic experience while honouring The Dog & the Elephant’s roots as a stage production.

Portrayed by Jack Johns, the audience was kept captivated by the innovative approach to spoken communication employed by Barlow. Audience interaction threaded throughout Johns performance, from his first-person method and direct address to Found Studio’s cameras, to the story of Bendigo’s tattoos and its relevance to his history.

Johns was offered the role of Bendigo Barlow after Grinter saw his one-man performance in the original Dog & the Elephant stage production at the Vaults. Johns brings menace as well as empathy to a character trapped in an era where his background and Tourette’s condition certifies him as an outsider from birth. And the dedication, tenacity and warmth Johns required to perform this character for a live audience is not compromised through the change in medium.

Using only one set, a few props and a CGI projection of the elephant, Johns conveys the turbulent emotions experience by the volatile Bendigo Barlow in a way befitting the character’s past. Yet, as well as Barlow’s burning desire for revenge, Johns communicates a very human vulnerability to create the kind of audience connection of which more established actors could only dream.

While not the usual corporate video offering, communications professionals could learn from The Dog & The Elephant. Profound, shocking yet empathetic, Found Studio’s depiction of human relationships and betrayal reminds us just how powerful video production can be.


'The Dog and The Elephant' - Prologue from Found on Vimeo.