We find ourselves in a perilous time, one that is being called the Sixth Extinction, an era in which we foresee the loss of 20% to 50% of all living species on earth. The gravity of these issues has entered mainstream consciousness, affecting our politics, media, and ultimately our individual beliefs about the trajectory of life.
How do we contemplate the future in such a moment?
A Period of Animate Existence is an inquiry into this great disruption. What is this effort for life to go on living: the language used by one generation to address another; the difference between the animate and the inanimate; and the visceral feeling that the force of life itself – what Henri Bergson called “the élan vital” – permeates our notions of minerals, plants, animals, people, and time.
Echoing the character and pacing of a 19th-century symphony, A Period of Animate Existence weaves together perspectives of children, elders, and machines in five staged movements or “hallucinatory visions.” Like a symphony, the movements are unrelated narratively, yet they complement each other sequentially in mood, tempo, and texture to produce a cumulative effect.
A Period of Animate Existence will premiere at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Pennsylvania in September 2017, as part of the 2017 Fringe Festival presented by FringeArts.