Last Dance is a semi-improvised performance centered around a suspended sculpture. The performers partner the sculpture in a strange dance as they navigate its changing form. Visually inspired by Louise Bourgeois’ suspended works, the piece is a study of loss, cycles, and tipping points. How do we deal with irreversible change and the aftermath of loss? What happens when we face impossible choices? The performance will last approximately one hour and will be followed by a reception and a conversation between the artists and Yale faculty.
For the past two decades, UK-based Feral Theatre co-directors Emily Laurens, Rachel Porter and Persephone Pearl have been making work together that is resilient, flexible, emphasises accessibility and focuses on real life struggles. Their work is multidisciplinary, tends to include clown, dark clown, and improvisation, is often site specific and sometimes closer to performance/live art. It is visual and experimental, including puppets, objects, paper, cloth, shadows, projections, live music and lighting. They have a long track record of making performance and ritual based work that:
● Explores the role of ritual in the context of current ecological realities and links the creation of new rituals and stories with contemporary environmental action (often with a focus on holding space for grief, gratitude and a wide range of other ecological emotions)
● Proposes that experimental contemporary ritual has a role in counterbalancing and queering an individualistic and consumption-focused dominant culture
● Evolves, responds to and articulates emerging scientific knowledge and cultural shifts
● Reflects on the meanings of and possibilities for the sacred amid secular and scientific understandings of the Anthropocene.
Feral Theatre’s performance work explores themes around biodiversity change and eco-emotions. They made the immersive Funeral for Lost Species in 2011 and founded Lost Species Day, a voluntary initiative that invites participants to host or attend memorials and events for extinct and critically endangered species, communities and places. Over the past decade, Feral Theatre has moved into a curatorial and facilitative role with Lost Species Day, steering the project away from its initial focus on endling stories towards a more intersectional, anti-racist and anti-colonial framing, amplifying diverse voices through its platforms. Lost Species Day has touched many thousands of people and influenced academics, institutions and social movements.
Following on from A Funeral For Lost Species, their play Triptych won Best New Play at Brighton Fringe 2012. They explored ambivalence and complexity using clown and physical humour in productions including Freaks of Nature and the Thylacine Tribute Cabaret, and used puppetry and video to animate and explore text by feminist historian of technoscience Michelle Murphy in Alterlife. As well as co-directing Feral Theatre, Rachel, Persephone and Emily all work separately, often with some level of collaboration and communication in their individual projects.
Rachel Porter trained as an actress and theatre deviser. She gained an MA at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in drama therapy and now lectures on the course and works as an academic developing new ways of working, with marginalised and disabled communities and with non-verbal communication. Rachel has developed a number of solo works performed in Belgium and the UK including Songs for Waiting and Silent Tarot. Lockdown periods encouraged her exploration of performing solo work through digital photography.
Emily Laurens lives and works in Wales as a multi-disciplinary artist working with themes around colonialism and race, memorialisation and identity, healing justice and reparations. Emily has had a number of commissions including from National Theatre Wales, the Arts Council of Wales and National Museums Wales. She is currently training in Art Psychotherapy.
Persephone Pearl is a Brighton-based arts producer and director who has led arts and environment organisation ONCA since 2012, devising and producing dozens of multidisciplinary collaborative creative projects. Her background is as a touring theatre and circus performer. Persephone is a poet, activist and facilitator with special skills in network building and bringing people together. She is training in psychotherapy at Brighton University and has trained with the Climate Psychology Alliance.
Suhail Yusuf Khan is a PhD. candidate at Wesleyan University and a Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at The Hartt School, University of Hartford. He brings together expertise from a performance career that has extended over 20 years, a creative ability, and the academic research to find new modes of expression in Hindustānī (North Indian) music. His doctoral dissertation, “Bridge Overtones: Lessons from the Sarangi” is the first in-depth ethnomusicological study of the North Indian bowed instrument tradition by a hereditary sarangi player. He has been featured on more than twenty albums and signed to Domino records, U.K.
Dr. Michel Gelobter is the inaugural Executive Director of the Yale Center for Environmental Justice and a senior advisor at Google X. Until recently he was the CEO of Cooler.dev and Managing Director of Reflective Earth (reflectiveearth.org). He’s had a diverse career in the private, public, government and non-profit sector with a core focus on innovation, climate change, energy, and social justice. Michel co-founded a number of environmental justice, water, and oceans organizations, founded the first consumer-facing climate software company, and his government service has included a stint as a Congressional Black Caucus Fellow, staffing the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee and serving as Director of Environmental Quality for the City of New York and as Assistant Commissioner for its $2 billion-a-year water utility and environmental agency. Michel helped originate and design the world’s first, economy-wide climate legislation (California’s AB32) and was the founding director of the Program on Environmental Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. His book, Lean Startups for Social Change: The Revolutionary Path to Big Impact, was published in 2016. Michel earned his MS & Ph.D. at UC Berkeley’s Energy & Resources Group and presently serves as a Board member of CERES, New Energy Nexus and co-chairs the Green Leadership Trust. He is an avid father and backpacker
Elise Morrison is an Assistant Professor of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies at Yale, where she teaches courses on Creativity, Collaboration, Feminist Theater, Embodied Communication, and Digital Media in Performance. Her first book, Discipline and Desire: Surveillance Technologies in Performance was published by University of Michigan Press in 2016. Morrison has edited several special issues: on “Surveillance Technologies in Performance” for the International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media (2015), and, along with the Yale-TDR Consortium Editorial team, two special issues for TDR: The Drama Review on “Algorithms and Performance” (2019) and “Presence” (2022). Her current book project, Post-Dramatic Stress: Theater and Therapy in the Aftermath of War, explores how technologies of 21st century war, from drones to first person shooter video games to virtual therapies developed to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, “perform” in and across socio-political, therapeutic and theatrical arenas. Morrison is also a singer-songwriter, theater director, and has devised and performed multiple intermedia cabaret performances that focus on gender, surveillance, and mediatized culture.