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Dancing on the Elephant

When Nora Neily gets dropped off at the nursing home by her frustrated, guilt-ridden son, she’s sure her life is pretty much done. That is, until a spunky, memory-challenged former acquaintance named Edna Buchanan wheels into her life and reminds her that it ain’t over till it’s over. The two kindle a friendship based on their love of Fat Archies cookies, disdain for chair-xercise, and Edna’s quest to escape the “fox farm.” Unfortunately, Edna’s failing memory eventually lands her in the secure “memory care” wing, leaving Nora to plot one last grand adventure in hopes of reminding her friend that there are still more elephants to dance on.

Lisa Hagen’s award-winning Dancing on the Elephant screenplay:

  • International Screenwriters’ Association Fast Track Fellowship - Finalist (2017)

  • Table Read My Script - Finalist (2017)

  • Half the World Global Literati - 1st Place Screenwriting (2016)

  • Blue Flame Collective - Winner (2016)

  • Blue Lizard Competition - Winner (2015)

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New Hamburg woman wins international prize for screenplay

"I was inspired by my grandmother and her best friend," Hagen said. "It started off as a series of stories she told me – and she was quite colourful – and it kind of evolved into how we treat seniors."

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Dancing on the Elephant (the stageplay)

I write from a woman’s perspective, I’m comfortable there. I’ve also noticed over the years that there’s not a lot of women’s voices in movies or on stage. So, I just kind of naturally gravitated towards it.
— Lisa Hagen, Writer, "Dancing on the Elephant"


  • Fly Away Arts (Baden, ON) - May 2019

  • Theatre Baddeck (Cape Breton) - 2018

  • Fascinating Women Festival - 2016

  • Daisy Productions (Toronto) - 2015

  • Act One Festival (Kitchener, ON) - 2014


  • Daisy Comedy Award First Place - 2015

  • Registry Theatre Gold Medal - 2014

Thank-you to Kathleen Sheehy (Edna), Christy Ziss (Nora), and Alana Leonard (Nursey) who originated the roles in the first stage production pictured here.


The Team

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Julia NEILL (director/producer)

Julia Neill is an award-winning filmmaker with a wide range of narrative film credits to her name, most recently Union, a civil war period film inspired by Mary Walker, the first woman to be employed by the US army. Julia has also been a longtime editor and videographer for clients including Smithsonian, Discovery Channel, and PBS.


Jacob Smith (director/producer)

Jacob Smith is an award-winning filmmaker, a former mayor, and a former U.S. Senate staffer. His films include the fiction short Chasing Rabbits and the feature documentary Waking the Sleeping Giant: The Making of a Political Revolution. Waking the Sleeping Giant is currently in national and international distribution.

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marisa vitali (Producer)

Marisa Vitali is an actor and producer with a growing list of award-winning film credits. She was a lead in the Official Cannes Film Selection You & I, directed by Christopher Scott, and produced, wrote, and acted in the short film Grace, which quickly gained industry buzz and distinguished honors at festivals like Cannes and SOHO International. Marisa is currently producing the indie film Carbon, an official selection at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival Breaking The Lens Initiative. Marisa is also producing the film Hungry Ghosts, currently in pre-production, with Mark Borkowski (Boardwalk Empire).

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Johanna coelHo (director of photography)

A cinematographer graduate of the prestigious American Film Institute, Johanna Coelho's credits include award-winning narrative films, music videos, award-winning PSAs, TV shows, interviews, and documentaries. She has shot 4 feature films, including You Cast A Spell on Me for MarVista Entertainment, and her television work has included shows with renowned companies such as Ricky Schroder Productions and HBO. Her most recent feature film, And Then There Was Eve, won the Jury Award at the L.A Film Festival and had a theatrical release in Los Angeles.


kelsey marsh (associate Producer)

Kelsey Marsh's producing credits include the documentaries Victorious: Women of the Gridiron and The Mama Sherpas, as well as short fiction films Drive and Geia Xara. Kelsey’s producing roles have also included stints at National Geographic and Discovery Channel.


Lisa hagen (story & screenplay)

Lisa Hagen is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter based in Ontario, Canada. Her writing credits include the 2018 narrative feature film Fortune Defies Death (co-writer), which just landed a distribution deal. Her stage script and screenplay for Dancing on the Elephant have earned multiple awards, and the stage play has been produced multiple times, including Theatre Baddeck on Cape Breton Island in Summer of 2018 and a May 2019 production in Baden, Ontario.

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