The Performance Collective's Eating Animals | Theater | Indy Week
Pin It

The Performance Collective's Eating Animals 

The Performance Collective during rehearsal of "Eating Animals"

Photo by D.L. Anderson

The Performance Collective during rehearsal of "Eating Animals"

Given the range of controversial expressions artists from Damien Hirst and Angela Singer to Lady Gaga and Skinny Puppy have achieved concerning (and with) the bodies of animals in their work, I vividly imagined what awaited audiences in last week's premiere of Eating Animals. If anything, that anticipation was heightened knowing adapter/ director Tony Perucci and The Performance Collective's prior successes in raising the stakes during their examinations of gender, privilege, multinational biochemical and pharmaceuticals, and political protest.

Well, win some, lose some. These recipients of a 2010 Indies Arts Award didn't take the safe way out—although this production is distinctly "safer" than some of its previous offerings. Instead it appears that the group never fundamentally figured out how to effectively stage Jonathan Safran Foer's 2009 best-seller, an investigation and critique of factory farming, and his accompanying argument for vegetarianism.

Instead, these artists appear to work their way through the text, eliminating different ways not to stage Foer's book. The result seems more like a piece about a process than a finished work itself. At various points, actors identify themselves as "Not Jonathan Safran Foer"; at others, they lobby or physically prevent performer Peter Pendergrass from showing putatively graphic video footage of tortured animals on blurry screens beneath a mid-stage platform. A number of strategies amount to theatrical groundouts, including one in which entire chunks of the author's rationale are solemnly delivered to unmoving stuffed animals on stage.

To an unanticipated degree, Perucci and his cast appear hamstrung as they consider what forms of display and representation can work—without completely alienating an audience—in dealing with the inhumane treatment of animals and the fact that humans choose to eat them. Let's freely stipulate it's a theatrical Gordian knot before we conclude that the knot remains largely intact at the end of this problematic work.

Related Locations


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Theater

Twitter Activity


I'm wondering why Dorfman specifically chose the Death and the Maiden quartet - deriving from the song Der Tod und …

by trishmapow on Forgiving is not forgetting in Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden (Theater)

Most Recent Comments

I'm wondering why Dorfman specifically chose the Death and the Maiden quartet - deriving from the song Der Tod und …

by trishmapow on Forgiving is not forgetting in Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden (Theater)

I'm not a theatergoer, so it was off my usual path to see this production. The small/ mighty cast approached …

by Aims Arches on A Superlative Adaptation of Virginia Woolf's Orlando Packs Centuries of Insight into a Fleet Eighty Minutes (Theater)

I personally am remarkably intrigued to see this production but since I can't drive myself to it I will sadly …

by Ryan Oliveira on David Harrower Lives Up to His Name in Blackbird, a Challenging Portrait of Abuse (Theater)

I wholeheartedly agree with the position that there should be more structured, civic support for the thriving arts community in …

by ShellByars on Common Ground Closed. Sonorous Road Might Be Next. Is It Curtains for Small, Affordable Theaters in the Triangle? (Theater)

© 2017 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation