Animals! is an urgent response to our changing world and the extraordinary and varied interactions between humans and animals, with an implicit focus on climate change, habitat and the extinction of species.
Animals! will be entertaining, celebratory, friendly and immediate. Designed to appeal to a wide (‘popular’) audience, but particularly families and children (5+), it will provoke thought and stimulate conversation. We’ll tell stories about connections and encounters between humans and animals, and celebrate magical personal encounters with wildlife. We’ll also tell real-world stories – informed by current research – which consider the local and global impact of human activity and climate change on wild animals, environments and biodiversity. While acknowledging the gravity of climate change, we’ll seek to engage through hope, telling true stories of
wildlife recoveries and local adaptations, and imagining a vision of ‘what might be’ which is not wholly bleak.
The performance will have the feel of a cabaret for families. Costume changes will allow a variety of different animals to appear – but our performers will essentially always ‘be themselves’ and will speak directly to the audience. This will feel reassuring, engaging and funny, and give scope for more aware material/humour for adults in the audience.
We anticipate that the completed performance will involve two performers and two musicians. At different times, and as different animals, they’ll talk directly to the audience, sing songs, play instruments, perform a physical/movement/dance sequence, and lead the audience in gently participatory activity. This structure – of different animals being introduced, appearing and disappearing – will keep things surprising and unexpected. But we’ll also take care to craft an overall narrative – or experience – arc, which will give the whole performance a satisfying, meaningful, shape. As with traditional cabaret, one performer will have the role of host (or, ‘lead animal’), staying with the audience for much of the piece, creating continuity and acting as a kind of guide.
Visually, Animals! will be designed around a series of extraordinary animal costumes. We’ll work with a specialist designer/maker to create the costumes. During the initial development phase, we’ll make one costume as a prototype, and we’ll identify what other key costumes and additional (simpler) ‘support costumes’ will be needed.
We’ll invite audiences to attend dressed as their favourite animal. This dressing-up element will add to the sense of occasion, enrich the visual world of the piece… and won’t be compulsory(!).
Our approach to making Animals! is informed by our previous work, particularly The Wake and Feast of the Dead. In both pieces, we successfully created informal, welcoming atmospheres where the audience are ‘invited in’ as part of the event, rather than simply being spectators at a performance. In part, we’ll achieve this through participatory activities within the performance. These will be carefully constructed, easy and enjoyable and will often involve the whole audience. For example, audiences might be invited to make sounds, play simple instruments, or actively coax a performer (as a ‘reluctant animal’) out onto stage.