Performing Species Today
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: University of Michigan Press
Series: Critical Performances
Title Page, Copyright Page
Animal Acts for Changing Times, 2.0: A Field Guide to Interspecies Performance Introduction
Things are moving fast in the human-animal world. So much so that an upgrade seems warranted on my earlier take on it, or rather my take on that part of it that intersects with the world of performance, theatre, and performance studies. Version 1.0 of this bulletin appeared in American Theatre...
The Dog and Pony Show (bring your own pony)
This is just about dogs. I want to warn you. The title is not a metaphor. When I say this is about dogs I mean: this is about dogs, period. Some of my friends got excited when I said that I was writing about the dogs. They thought that was just the beginning of the first sentence, and I would take them on a journey...
Commentary: Agility Is Performance Art
Holly threatens Esther with goats; I threaten Rusten with miniature donkeys. The donkeys remain a fantasy, or at best a few research interviews with miniature donkey people and a stolen moment of eye and hand touch with a silky sorrel jennet or a brown and white spotted wooly jack at the county...
Vicky Ryder, Lisa Asagi, and Stacy Makishi
Commentary: What Happened to the Black Dog?
There comes a time near the ending or not-ending of a long-term relationship, a time after both partners have settled into routines that bore them, when at least one partner wonders whether she will resign to the inertia or go on to something else, whether the wish to stay derives from love, fear, or...
“I am not a cat lady,” my mother declares, a bag of Whiskas under her arm and a Maine coon at her feet. She marches through the laundry room to answer the lament of a portly calico who is kept locked in the pantry. “No, you stay out here, Don Diego,” she cautions the Maine coon. “Mrs. Gummidge
Commentary: Theatre of the Cat Lady Who Is Not
Joseph Keckler’s autobiographical fiction, Cat Lady, begins with a categorical denial—“ I am not a cat lady”—spoken by the narrator’s mother as she tends to the creatures who flourish under her attentive supervision. In Keckler’s theatrical adaptation of his story, which he performs alone on stage, the declaration...
With What Ass Does the Cockroach Sit? / ¿Con Qué Culo Se Sientala Cucaracha?
Carmelita Tropicana (aka Alina Troyano)
Commentary: Martina, Catalina, Elián, and the Old Man: Queer Tales of a Transnational Cuban Cockroach
Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes
Alina Troyano’s bilingual one-woman play With What Ass Does the Cockroach Sit?/¿Con qué culo se sienta la cucaracha? (2004) is a fascinating, highly politicized contemporary rewriting of the Hispanic Caribbean folktale “La cucarachita Martina” (Martina the cockroach), with close affinities to Pura...
No Bees for Bridgeport: A Fable from the Age of Daley
Commentary: A New Fable of the Bees
Joshua Takano Chambers-Letson
In 1705 Bernard Mandeville published “The Grumbling Hive: or, Knaves Turned Honest,” a short poem about “a Spacious Hive well stocked with Bees” that transforms from a society of vice, political corruption, and economic inequality to an egalitarian order of communal virtue.1 Among the...
Horseback Views: A Queer Hippological Performance
Commentary: Kinesthetic Intimacies
Jane C. Desmond
When I was ten years old, I had my first horse-riding lesson at a summer camp in northern Virginia. My strongest memory of it: being bucked off a horse, suddenly flying through the air, and landing hard on the bare ground. I don’t blame the horse. He had to stand there to be mounted by what were...
Commentary: Apes like Us
Deke Weaver’s performance piece MONKEY begins with a joke. It’s in the title, in fact, and is the first of many we will encounter. We don’t really know it’s a joke until we get to the list of primate species that MONKEY-MAN writes—and erases—on his chalkboard. Is our ignorance about the fact that...
Excerpts from ELEPHANT
Commentary: A Hero’s Death
The interviewer, Larry Stone, “rumpled, possibly a little drunk, very smart,” asks Hero, the elephant, “Is it true that an elephant never forgets?” Hero responds, “Sure, we remember everything.” That an elephant never forgets is a recurring notion throughout Deke Weaver’s ELEPHANT, and it is also one...
Excerpt from Everything I’ve Got
I woke up today and thought about the world. Its land: erupting, eroding, yielding, withholding. Its waters: warm and cold, salty and fresh, rapid and still. Its inhabitants: the very few I know, the few more I will meet, the billions of others. Its activity: creation and evolution, thrust and whirl. Things...
Commentary: The Great Refusal and the Greater Hope
Jess Dobkin’s Everything I’ve Got is a poignant meditation on the possibilities for life and art-making in the face of an uncertain future. Moved by the untimely death of a filmmaker friend, Dobkin was prompted to write a piece that would enumerate all the ideas that remain kicking around in...
Excerpts from As the Globe Warms: An American Soap Opera in Twelve Acts
Commentary: Zooglossia: The Unknown Tongues of Heather Woodbury
As the Globe Warms is a serial performance piece that unfolded live in half-hour episodes over thirty-four weeks in 2010–11. Each performance was simultaneously webcast, multiplying the spaces of “the live.” The first twenty-four episodes were staged at Echo Curio, a performance space in Los....