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Artisan Collective

MERRIGONGX 2020 Artist Profile

The Artisan Collective aims to explore the ever-expanding possibilities of theatre. Their work encapsulates cross-disciplinary performance, text based plays, physical theatre, live music performance, sound installation and puppetry. Their latest development work is by founder, writer and performer Ben Pfeiffer and co-developed with director Kirsten von Bibra.

The Keeper - a new play in development

An Artisan Collective production
By Ben Pfeiffer
Director Kirsten von Bibra

A true story through a new lens.

Follow the story of Jumbo, the Sudanese elephant (1860 -1885) – said to be the largest ever to walk the earth. Retold through the lens of Jumbo’s lifelong companion and carer, Matthew Scott The Keeper takes you through Jumbo’s incredible journey to become the main attraction of P.T Barnum’s ‘Greatest Show On Earth’ and the tragic tale of life in and beyond the circus.

A real superstar of the Victorian era is brought to life through puppetry, stunning visuals, theatrical illusion, live songs and showmanship. This true story encourages compassion and understanding of what it means to advocate on behalf of the vulnerable and voiceless.

Artist Statement

“I’d heard of ‘Jumbo the Mighty African Elephant’ previously and just happened to flick over to a documentary about him a few years back.

I was totally enthralled by his life’s journey and began to research the extraordinary relationship Jumbo shared with his long-term carer and companion, Matthew Scott. I felt their fascinating story spoke to so many issues of modern-day relevance: the state of humanity, entitlement, exploitation, the fetishisation of otherness and animal conservation. After feeling an instantaneous connection to both Jumbo and Scott, I immediately put pen to paper. The more I wrote, the more I came to understand the immense depth, breadth, heart and potency their tale contained. I believe it will make for an exquisite and breathtaking theatrical experience.

I like my audiences to be immersed in something incredibly intimate and rich, to play with their comprehension of time – making it stretch or contract so that transcendence, both imaginative and emotional, can take place. Under the Artisan Collective umbrella, each different project has been rooted in a social justice issue of thematic significance, making the work not only a piece of ethical urgency, but also one that knows its heart and intention intimately.” Ben Pfeiffer

The Keeper - Play Reading

Available Saturday 13 June this play reading features three excerpts from the script of The Keeper.

Available for on-demand streaming in podcast form you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy to the 45 min audio experience at your leisure.


If you would like to show your support for this work, the artists request that you consider making a donation to Pay the Rent –

Watch the trailer for a glimpse into this new work in-development.

Coming Up…