Animals and humans on stage: live performances at Sea World on the Gold Coast

Article


Scollen, Rebecca. 2018. "Animals and humans on stage: live performances at Sea World on the Gold Coast." Animal Studies Journal. 7 (1), pp. 248-269.
Article Title

Animals and humans on stage: live performances at Sea World on the Gold Coast

ERA Journal ID200142
Article CategoryArticle
Authors
AuthorScollen, Rebecca
Journal TitleAnimal Studies Journal
Journal Citation7 (1), pp. 248-269
Number of Pages24
Year2018
Place of PublicationAustralia
ISSN2200-9140
2201-3008
Web Address (URL)http://ro.uow.edu.au/asj/vol7/iss1/12
Abstract

The purpose of this study is to investigate animal and human relations as constructed, and as demonstrated, through the live performances at Sea World on the Gold Coast, Australia. Particular attention is placed upon the meanings generated by the intersection of the starring animals and humans in the two narrative-driven productions. The study employs participant observation at three performances of Fish Detectives and Affinity. Fish Detectives highlights the dangers of overfishing the Earth’s oceans in a play where the sea lions and pelican involved in the show perform alongside human actors. The animals do not perform their species but instead present anthropomorphic characters that have human traits. Affinity focuses on the long-held relationship between humans and dolphins and stresses the importance of keeping the oceans clean to protect the health of both. This show is one of demonstration with narrated information interspersed by impressive routines by the dolphins and human trainers. In both productions, audiences are encouraged to respond to the content and to participate directly at times by interacting with the animals. Over the last decade or so, there has been an increase of academic enquiry into animals in live performance and the performance of animality. For the most part, these studies interrogate the content of performances presented in circus and theatre environs, or in performance art. This paper contributes to the field with a particular focus upon staged live animal performances in a public aquarium setting.

KeywordsSea World, live performance, animals, humans, relations, anthropomorphism, audience
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020360403. Drama, theatre and performance studies
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Byline AffiliationsSchool of Arts and Communication
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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