‘Eating Animals’ to open communication studies’ season

An adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s book “Eating Animals” will be performed Nov. 10-12 and Nov. 17-19 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The play will kick off the 2011-2012 performance season in the communication studies department, part of UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences.

“Eating Animals” was chosen by both UNC and Duke University as the 2011 summer reading book for incoming students. Assistant professor of communication studies Tony Perucci adapted the book for the stage and will direct the Performance Collective in the production, which will combine dance, music, video and puppets. The collective features local artists and UNC faculty, students and staff.

Last year, the collective’s production of “The Activist” received a number of “best of the year” awards from the Independent Weekly.

“Eating Animals” will be performed in Studio 6 of Swain Hall, near the corner of South Columbia Street and Cameron Avenue. Performances will be at 6 p.m. Thursdays and 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets, $10 for the public and $5 for students, are available at the student union box office at (919) 962-1449.

The season will continue with additional shows through March. Show dates and times will be posted as they become available at http://comm.unc.edu. Those tickets also will be sold at the student union box office.

“I am thrilled by the ways in which our season reflects our commitment to performance as a mode of reinvention, engagement and creative possibility,” Perucci said. “Continuing in the vein of experimental theater, this season’s well-balanced mix includes stories of political urgency, individual struggles of identity, the ethics and politics of eating meat and the nature of storytelling.”

The season also will include “Solo Takes on Three,” a festival of five performances based on the theme of “remaking – of identity, desire and the nature of story itself,” said director Joseph Megel, an artist-in-residence in the department. On stage Feb. 2-12, the festival will include four one-person performances:

  • Visiting artist and University of New Mexico professor Brian Herrara will perform “I Was the Voice of Democracy,” the story of a 17-year-old who is thrust into a peculiar kind of fame when a speech he writes on a whim wins first place in a national scholarship contest.
  • In “(No)Body Behind the Mask,” doctoral candidate Kashif Powell will explore the intersection of his black American identity and West Indian heritage through Ralph Ellison’s classic novel, “Invisible Man,” winner of the National Book Award in 1953.
  • Doctoral candidate Shannon Wong Lerner will premiere “No One Hurts You More Than S/MOTHER,” an opera that twists our sense of human desire through the need to please our mothers.
  • Undergraduate Sam Peterson, 50, will showcase “From F to M to Octopus,” an unexpected and surprising look at the process of changing gender.

The last performance in “Solo Takes on Three” will be the Performance Collective’s “Stories are Lies (That We Tell to Get Other People to Like Us and to Make Us Feel Better About Ourselves),” adaptations of 60 short stories in 70 minutes.

The season will end with a free performance of “Imitation of Life” March 16-18 in the Martha Nell Hardy space in 203 Bingham Hall. The play will be undergraduate Shani Watson’s adaptation of the controversial 1933 novel by Fannie Hurst.

Mentored by communication studies professor Paul Ferguson, Watson crafted a story focusing on two widows – one white, one black – and their rebellious daughters, who struggle for happiness against racism and other social ills. “Imitation of Life” portrays the fear and loneliness that troubles an adolescent who rejects her racial identity.

For more information, call Megel at (919) 843-7067.