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Hayley Silverman’s “Dog Plays,” an ongoing series in which a cast of untrained dogs take on the role of characters from a range of pop-culture texts, disrupt the canon of identities traditionally represented in Hollywood as they are re-inhabited by animals. Calling on artifacts ranging from Richard Linklater films, to science-fiction thrillers, to Depression-era musicals that rhapsodize class difference, these performances investigate how our understanding of narrative, authority and identity transforms when we project stories, dialogues and emotions onto animals. The plays fall into a tradition of mythologies and fables in which animals are carriers of hidden messages, promises, and magical functions. Silverman’s performances probe the fragile and mysterious division between the human body and the non-human body, control and chaos, and the melancholy and absurdity that comes with letting go.
This edition combines elements from the disaster film Twister, 1996, with Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, interspersed with songs from the musical, Oliver!. Each dog carries a speaker that projects the internal monologue of its character, prerecorded by human actors, including Vaginal Davis. The play takes place against an apocalyptic backdrop, made in collaboration with Matthew Schrader.