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The Black Hen Society: Cultural Translation, Collaborative Epistemologies and Ecognosis

The Black Hen Society

The Black Hen Society was a collaborative adaptation by UK and North American visual theatre companies, ARTEL and Animal Cracker Conspiracy, of Antony Pogorelsky’s influential nineteenth century Russian children’s story. A central aspect of the project led by researcher Bryan Brown was the elaboration of artistic collaboration towards what Timothy Morton has coined ‘the ecological thought’.

In doing so, The Black Hen Society examined how a production, through its structural and aesthetic processes, might not simply perform considerations and aspects of environmentalism, but actually do ecology. How, in other words, might the makers themselves tackle the complexity of climate change through reconsidering individual, group and local factors that inform the shared systems of being and knowing in our lived environments? Can collaboration itself become an ecological epistemology?

The project took place between 2015-2019 and was funded and supported by a Network of Ensemble Theaters’ NET/TEN grant, the National Puppetry Conference at the O’Neill, Henson Workshop and Production grants, and the University of Exeter. Performances took place at the O’Neill, The Bike Shed Theatre (Exeter) and the University of Exeter.

Video excerpts and photos from the project’s development can be seen on the ARTEL website.