‘Ceremonious Ape!’: Creaturely Poetics and Anthropomorphic Acts

Anderton, Joseph (2015) ‘Ceremonious Ape!’: Creaturely Poetics and Anthropomorphic Acts. Performance Research, 20 (2). pp. 78-88. ISSN 1352-8165

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In this essay I will trace the double process of dehumanisation and re-humanisation manifest in Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, his short 1982 play Catastrophe, Teevan’s Kafka’s Monkey and Vesturport’s 2006 adaptation of Kafka’s Metamorphosis. These plays enact the destabilisation of the human and enter ‘creaturely’ territory only to convey anthropomorphic performances of the human model. The concept of the creature, theorised variously by Julia Luton, Eric Santner and Anat Pick, describes the being that arises when the human is denuded and life persists beyond supposedly constitutive human values and normative structures. In these Beckett plays and adaptations of Kafka in particular, however, uncanny creatures echo the human through what Beckett scholar Shane Weller calls ‘forms of weakness’, or ruined versions of the paradigm: ‘a negatively determined being (or ‘un-’ being) [...], that is defined principally by its inabilities (in motion and speech), its suffering and its status as an object of revulsion’ (Weller 2013: 20). In effect, the audience witness deanthropomorphised creatures that proceed to carry out anthropomorphic acts. As human specificity dissolves into the vulnerable material conditions of organic life in general, the resulting creatures continue to play up to the idea of humanity, which only serves to disclose the constructed nature of the category itself.

Item Type: Article
9 March 2015Published
Subjects: CAH19 - language and area studies > CAH19-01 - English studies > CAH19-01-01 - English studies (non-specific)
CAH25 - design, and creative and performing arts > CAH25-02 - performing arts > CAH25-02-03 - drama
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > College of English and Media
Depositing User: Joseph Anderton
Date Deposited: 29 Aug 2017 14:17
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2024 12:08
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/5098

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