Plague Dogs—Fit One is the first work in an ongoing series dealing with zoopoetics in selected works of literature. We understand zoopoetics (greek ‘zoion’ + ‘poiesis’, meaning ‘animal’ + ‘to make’) as a kind of poetry that examines and explores the agency of non-human animals. With this current work, we tried to establish for ourselves, in relation to the selected text, two basic premises: that animals exist imaginatively and rhetorically.

The video depicts the process of rehearsing a play based on the first chapter of The Plague Dogs, a novel writ­ten by Richard Adams, following the es­cape of two dogs from a 1970s an­i­mal ex­per­i­men­ta­tion fa­cil­ity. The original plot of the novel has been modified to accommodate two actors attempting to escape the theatre building.

In negotiating their scripted and non-scripted position throughout the rehearsal, the two actors engage in a pseudo-conflict between the original dog characters’ ability to practically problem-solve and coordinate towards their escape, and the concept of escape, which the new protagonists explore from a human perspective, in their (seemingly implausible) scripted movement away from the stage, and subsequently from the possibility of experience.

Their involvement in character development, scenic purpose and effectiveness, cause-and-effect, and their search for theatrical tropes lead to meta-conversations and poignant analogies to discourses of contemporary society, such as the enslaving power of entertainment over the individual, consciousness and sentience.

With Eva Ki­jl­stra and Si­mon Hodges.

Thanks to Nicoline van Harskamp; Gertjan ten Thije, Het Amsterdams Theaterhuis, NL.