In the spirit of the project, New York Producer Philip Naudé shares his thoughts in the form of a review for the Times… Enjoy!


ZOONOSIS: Reminding us why. Showing us how.

Dublin Youth Theatre opened their new production ZOONOSIS this week in several hundred theatres around the world at the same time. While this may seem absurd, or have seemed absurd a few months ago, this is today.

Today and for the unforeseen future we are in a new theatrical landscape and the practitioners at DYT have bravely and confidently ushered us into the new realm of theatres in our socially distanced world with a work that can be profoundly moving, greatly informative, utterly perplexing and delightfully playful all in the same moment.

It demands that we listen intently and consider some of our most challenging constructs and social facades in the company of spinning blue fishes, bag headed tea drinking octopus marionettes and the odd dancing minotaur dressed in summer casuals. The overall effect is enchanting and effective. It’s been a long time since I sat with a playful smile on my face while considering the brutal demoralizing effects of the bureaucracies we created and how best we can dismantle them. I felt young again.

The experience begins with the company addressing the audience in a well choreographed direct address, setting the virtual stage for the uninitiated and establishing the frame of mind that would best serve the viewer as they venture forth. This was not only a good logistical choice, it was strategic, endearing and great theater. Presented to us was the company in the Real. The people who would soon become characters, props, singers, and dancers spoke to us as People. Then, much as a slight of hand artist employs misdirection the people are gone and we find ourselves in a world populated by characters, text, music, and ideas. Perhaps more accurately, characterstextmusicandideascharacterstextmusicideas. Yes, the performance is overwhelming, but that is the design as prefaced by the People. We have been warned, much like history warns us not to repeat ourselves but learn from ourselves.

In ZOONOSIS we have to embrace the idea that the world is overwhelming, perhaps now more than ever. Information (and misinformation) are hurling at us charted by an ever upward parabolic curve that at times seems vertical. We are asked to crane our necks and look up at it, reach for a point of purchase and continue to climb.

The brave young theatre makers at DYT not only provide us with a reflection on the state of our world, but that of contemporary theatre and it’s future. As we process the avalanche of new information, heightened uncertainty, polarized political environments and an overdue resurgence of anger toward our past and it’s consequences we are invited to join them as they reimagine the stage, performance and our future as storytellers. The invitation comes in a novelty sized baby-blue kitten shaped envelope and the letter is chiseled in granite by the young people who will inherit the future. We are in good hands.

Philip Naudé, New York, August 2020


more praise for ZOONOSIS: