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5 - The Play at the End of the World

Deke Weaver’s Unreliable Bestiary and the Theatre of Extinction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2021

Kirsten E. Shepherd-Barr
Affiliation:
University of Oxford
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Summary

Chapter 5: This chapter situates the American artist Deke Weaver’s long-term project The Unreliable Bestiary within the ecological politics of the Anthropocene. Weaver aims to create a performance for every letter of the English alphabet, with each letter representing an endangered species or threatened habitat. The performances he has made to date – Monkey (2009), Elephant (2010), Wolf (2013), Bear (2016–17), and Tiger (2019) – address the looming threat of the sixth great extinction by pairing the most fantastic flights of the animalized imagination with the most astonishing facts discovered by animal science. Reactivating and reconfiguring the medieval bestiary in this way allows Weaver to braid together an epistemology derived from the ‘squishy science’ of performance with an affect he calls ‘plain old wonder’, producing a new theatrical grammar for being in and with extinction and a new ethical framework for encountering our remaining animal others.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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References

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