TO DEFY THE BEAST is inspired by ancient Greek tragic drama, and by Barbara Ehrenreich’s book Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War. The show premiered as our 2003 Esopus Creek Puppet Suite, featuring music by Thomas Workman and The Big Sky Ensemble.
View video excerpts from the show here.
A curse is upon the people. The blind prophet is called to exorcise the curse and save the community. But that means confronting the predator and refusing him the sacrificial blood.
To Defy the Beast fuses theatrical imagery and brass band roots music in a sprawling work of tragic theater. A mélange of larger-than-life mask and puppet characters populate the show — the blind seer, a posse of High Sheriffs, a primordial saber-tooth tiger, a band of Neanderthals, a sacrificial goat, a hunter turned warrior chief, a phalanx of foot soldiers, a mother and her first-born son. Juxtaposed with the rough and tumble action are lyrical shadow puppet scenes.
The story is based on Barbara Ehrenreich’s Blood Rites: The Origins and History of the Passions of War. In her book Ehrenreich explores this premise: “The ‘original trauma’ that shaped the human response to violence…was the trauma of being hunted and eaten by animals. Here, most likely, lies the sources of our human habit of sacralizing violence: in the terror inspired by the devouring beast and in the powerful emotions, associated with courage and altruism, that were required for group defense.”
To Defy the Beast is 75 minutes in length and presented by a core company of six performers and four musicians. In addition, seven performers are needed from the host community or presenting organization. Playing both the phalanx of Warriors and the High Sheriffs of Love, they must be available for a three-hour rehearsal prior to the performance.
TO DEFY THE BEAST ~ 2003 Cast & CrewCreated by Marlena Marallo & Patrick Wadden Music by Thomas Workman and The Big Sky Ensemble The Big Sky Ensemble is Tim Allen, Peter Buettner, Brian Farmer, Dean Jones, Thomas Workman, Bill Ylitalo Mask Performers: Trey Daniels, Lillian Harden, Steve Thomas, Elisa Tucci, Patrick Wadden, Carl Welden, Jason West Warriors & High Sheriffs of Love: Miranda Baker, Kate Hall, M-Jai Harrell, Maya Puchkoff, Hannah Roberti, Sue Rosenberg, Karenza Waever Production assistants: Kate Hall, Nathaniel Schefer Lights: Wesley Foudriat Production Support: Elaine Heneke