The Civilians, a new Off-Off-Broadway theatre troupe, plans to rip the lid off animal abuse in the film industry with its first production, Canard, Canard, Goose, due to play HERE Jan. 25-Feb. 17.
It takes a lot of chutzpah for a new company to feature itself as the main character of its first venture, but that's just what The Civilians has done with Canard, which is described as a "musical documentary." When The Civilians get wind of geese abuse on a film set in Long Lake, NY, a hamlet in the Adirondacks, they speed up the Hudson to investigate the charges. There they find that the crew of a film called "Fly Away Home" has trained local geese and then abandoned them, leaving the birds disoriented and crestfallen. After interviewing various locals, experts and some Hollywood stars (including Anna Paquin, who recently starred in The Glory of Living, and once made a film about geese called "Fly Away Home"), the group decides to put on a show about what they've learned.
The plays sounds distinctly like a parody of The Tectonic Theatre's The Laramie Project, in which theatre members trucked off to Laramie, WY, to interview citizens about the murder of Matthew Shepherd and them transformed their material into a play. If Tectonic's artistic director Moises Kaufman if aware of this, or upset by it, he's not showing it: Kaufman is an artistic advisor to the company.
The Civilians has a deep-dish mission. They purport to offer experiences that are "actually happening... The goal behind [its] methods is to connect the creative process of theatre to a larger social context and make work that illuminates the present. While the work stems from a genuine interest in social and cultural questions, it is rooted in popular performing traditions—using aspects of theater, cabaret and stand-up comedy."
Canard is directed by company member Steve Cosson with interviews written by another member, playwright Anne Washburn. Other members include actress Christina Kirk ([sic]), actor Stephen DeRosa (newyorkers), director Anne Kaufman and playwright Melanie Marnich (Blur). The cast of Canard includes Damian Baldet, Aysan Celik, Aimee Guillot, Jennifer Morris, Charlie Schroeder, Brian Sgambati and Colleen Werthmann. Michael Friedman writes original songs and Jessica Wallenfells is choreographer.
Tickets are $15. HERE is located at Spring Street and Sixth Avenue. For more information, call (212) 647-0202.
—By Robert Simonson