Animals Dying

A play written and directed for Riksteatern (The National Touring Company of Sweden) in co-production with Svenska Teatern (The National Swedish Theater) in Helsinki, Finland. Premiered in October 2010. The play was written in less than three weeks based on a recent news article about a mother and son who lived together with 191 cats in a house outside of Stockholm, and got all the cats killed in a raid by the Swedish police. This lead to a three act play about the border between animals and humans. Where the story on the 191 cats became the first act, told through an experimental stage technique.

Marcus Lindeen is interested in finding different ways to reproduce authentic dialogue on stage. In the first scene, instead of transcribing the interviews into a script and letting the actors learn it by heart, he wanted to try to capture some of the authenticity that lies in the natural rhythm when ”real people” speak. So, he made a sound file with the edited version of the script, and had the actors wear headphones during the performance where they simultaneously listened to the interviews while saying the lines at the same. This created a kind of quirkiness in the dialogue on stage, which made the transformation from reality to fiction become visible in a strange and intriguing way.

The second act was an academic lecture based on essays by American literature professor Julie Ann Smith, who lives together with 22 rabbits and has written several papers on how she tries to co-exist on equal terms with rabbits. The text is based on these essays and a few interviews, and the photos being shown are real-life photos from her life. The 3D-animation of her house is based on actual blueprints.

The third act is called ”Lucy”, which is the story of the chimpanzee growing up in a psychotherapist family. First told by the therapist who wrote the book about the experiment with her. And then by the caretaker Janis Carter who lived with Lucy on an isolated river island in the jungle of Senegal for eight years. The text is based on the book and interviews Marcus made with the real Janis Carter. Photos being shown are taken from Janis’s photo albums and scanned pages of the book. There are also elements in this act where the actors speak in sign language. These parts illustrate real conversations that was documented between Lucy, who had been taught to sign, and Maurice.

The play got outstanding reviews and the press dubbed Marcus as ”The cover boy of documentary theater” and ”The hope for Swedish theater”. Swedish national daily, Svenska Dagbladet, wrote: ”Slightly shaken, you leave this eccentric Lindeenian zoo filled with opinions. This is an experience no one should miss.”

Cast: Eva Melander, Henrik Vikman, Hans Appelqvist och Veronika Mattsson
Director and writer: Marcus Lindeen
Research and interviews: Rosa Fernandez
Set design and costumes: Daniel Åkerström-Steen
Music: Hans Appelqvist
Video design: David Giese
Producing Theater: Riksteatern and Svenska Teatern in Helsinki