Feral Theatre's "Last Dance" workshop

Event time: 
Friday, September 8, 2023 - 10:00am to 12:00pm
Miller Hall (PROS406) See map
406 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Free, but register in advance
Open to: 
General Public
Event description: 

The Feral Theatre co-directors Emily, Rachel, and Persephone will facilitate a workshop following the same three-part structure as the performance on September 7. They will invite participants to play with fabric bodies, filled with different materials: cotton wool, yarn, shredded paper to create and deconstruct a small personal object. They will engage in a participatory experiment, asking questions around the objects’ relationships with the self, the other and the more-than-human-world:

• What can these objects stand for?
• How can we explore our relationships through interacting with these diminishing forms, and what are the outcomes?
• Can these objects become bridges between worlds and realities?
• Can engagement in a creative ritual lead to action, and social and environmental flourishing?
• What is that process and how can we know?

The workshop is free and open to the public. Please register here

Feral Theatre: a brief company biography
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.

This event is sponsored by ISM’s Religion, Ecology, and Expressive Culture Initiative. Read more about the initiative. Learn more about the Last Dance performance on September 7.

Photo: Rachel Porter, Emily Laurens, and Persephone Pearl, the founders of Feral Theatre.

The artists
● 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.

Interested in taking part?

Feral Theatre is seeking musicians to collaborate with them on the performance. They are looking for musicians comfortable with experimental approaches, and are open to offerings of all kinds, from live improvised accompaniment to recorded compositions. The piece is likely to have three main parts that they hope the music will correspond to:

1. They imagine the piece will begin with the atmosphere of a dance hall of the 1950s.
2. This would then become abstracted somehow, stranger and less recognizable. They are looking for sound that depicts some kind of crisis. This should be completely in contrast to the 1950s upbeat dance music we begin with.
3. Ultimately the piece explores grief and loss, at times desperately, at times with more acceptance and melancholically. For the final stage they are interested in music or sound that is of more of a transcendent nature, though not tied to a particular religion.
Strong improvisation skills are essential. All types of instrumentalists are welcome. If you are interested in taking part, you need to be available on the afternoons of September 6 and 7 or be prepared to record your work and share it in August. Please email info@feraltheatre.co.uk if you’re interested or have any questions. Thank you!