Season 4 took place in October 2018
Curated by writer, academic, and playwright Jane Taylor, Season 4 of The Centre for the Less Good Idea takes the shape of a Collapsed Conference – a series of talks, presentations and ideas all told through performance.
It is on the fine line between academic rigor and fervent performance where you’ll locate The Centre for the Less Good Idea’s Season 4 performance of Pan Troglodyte.
Created by this Season’s curator, Jane Taylor, Pan Troglodyte is the result of a team of brilliant actors and intellectuals who convey, through several modes of performance, a compelling bit of research.
Pan Troglodyte is, first and foremost, a presentation of a paper by Taylor that details her research into primate intelligence, artificial intelligence, and race theory. Throughout the course of the show Taylor is positioned behind a podium from where she presents this research – musings on Wolfgang Kohler’s insight learning, the literary philosophies of Samuel Beckett, and the deliberations of Jane Goodall are a few of the intellectual findings referenced throughout. Taylor makes use of a strong and detailed narrative, peppered with questions and presented problems. How can embodied actions be taken as evidence of consciousness? Where is the threshold of the human, the animal? How do we begin to make sense of ourselves through the study of cats, dogs, rats, pigeons, apes, and the advent of artificial intelligence?
Norton and Miyambo play different characters in the performance, switching from Jane Goodall to the ape, and also serving as dual puppeteers to ‘Monk’, a Handspring Puppet Company creation. Both Goodall and Miyambo excel in their manipulations of the puppet, with Monk becoming a key visual accompaniment to Taylor’s presentation.
If you are to consider the other works on show during The Centre’s 4th Season – the presentations of compelling arguments and lines of thought, and the abstract, free-flowing performances consisting only of music, or movement – then Pan Troglodyte is the work that ties all these key themes and mediums together. This is not only the mark of smart and considered curation, but it also serves as a brilliant example of the kind of work that can be achieved at a space like The Centre.
Because what does happen to the shape, form, and effect of an academic conference if it were to be presented as a piece of art? If Pan Troglodyte alone is anything to go by, a ‘collapsed conference’ is the key to a more universal understanding of research, performance, and everything that exists between the two.
For the full version go to | https://vimeo.com/303661812
DIRECTOR | Jane Taylor
PERFORMERS | Jane Taylor, Tony Miyambo, Terry Norton, and Monk
ASSOCIATE INSTITUTIONS | Centre for Humanities Research at the University of the Western Cape, and Andrew W Mellon Foundation
ANIMATEUR FOR THE CENTRE | Bronwyn Lace
CINEMATOGRAPHY AND EDITING | Noah Cohen
PROJECT MANAGER | Shruthi Nair
LIGHTING | Wesley France and Guy Nelson
SOUND | SoulFire Studios and Zain Vally
STAGE MANAGEMENT | Hayleigh Evans and PopArt Productions
WRITING | Dave Mann