Hayden Lane-Davies

Catastrophic Imaginings: Human-Driven Catastrophe, the Anthropocene, The Skin of Our Teeth, and Lungs

April 11, 2021   /  

Name: Hayden Lane-Davies
Major: Theatre and Dance, Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Advisors: Dr. Jimmy Noriega, Dr. Natasha Bissonauth (Second Reader)

This Independent Study explores questions of human-driven catastrophe and how it is represented in the theatre. It asks, how are playwrights engaging with the concept of human- driven catastrophe to create plays that speak to the pressing issues of their times? How might those catastrophes speak to our current moment? And how can an acting recital be crafted to respond to this? Throughout the project I examined these questions with a theoretical lens crafted from feminist responses to the Anthropocene, applying this lens to a textual analysis of two plays — Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth and Duncan Macmillan’s Lungs. This work was then applied to “Catastrophes of Our Own Making: Scenes from The Skin of Our Teeth and Lungs,” an acting recital filmed at The College of Wooster. The edited film of that recital composes the video component of this symposium presentation. What drew me to this topic was how the term “Catastrophe” encompassed much of what I saw in the plays I was reading as well as the current moment. Although there was little existing scholarship combining these different ways of thinking, I am hopeful that the research I have done here may prove useful to other theatre scholars seeking to understand the roles of art and performance in making sense of the Anthropocene and its future implications.

Click to watch Hayden’s video presentation.

Hayden will be online to field comments on April 16:
noon-2pm EDT (PST: 9-11am, Africa/Europe: late afternoon)

19 thoughts on “Catastrophic Imaginings: Human-Driven Catastrophe, the Anthropocene, The Skin of Our Teeth, and Lungs”

  1. Such a cool topic! (And great photo of you.) I can hardly wait to see your video–what are relatives without Wooster accounts supposed to do?!

  2. Congratulations Hayden – it was a privilege to work on this project with you! So proud of all the hard work you put into this.

  3. Hello Hayden, The title of your work grabbed me – especially when considered in conjunction with your particular major! Congrats on the creativity involved – I’m very intrigued by the direction of your project. And thanks for bringing those works of Wilder and Macmillan to my attention. Best of luck!

    1. Thank you for your kind words! Neither Macmillan or Wilder’s works were in my initial list of plays to research, but I found that they were the ones that most successfully engaged with catastrophe as more than a “backdrop” to other ideas.

  4. Congratulations, Hayden! It’s really interesting to see how theatre can be a vehicle for discussing social issues, especially how you’ve managed to put on a production during a catastrophe of its own. Do you think that there will be any works about covid in the next few years, and do you think the lenses you used in your IS could be applied to those as well?

    1. Thank you! I think that the pandemic will remain a part of our cultural consciousness for a long time and I’m certain that will be reflected to a degree in theatre. As far as the lenses used in my IS, I do think they would suit those works well, but I hope that they can contribute to further discourses around the relationships we have to the world around us.

  5. Congratulations, Hayden! Could you tell me the biggest challenge you had in the process of this great work and how to solve it, please?

    1. There were a lot of elements of this IS that were unexpectedly challenging. With regards to my acting recital, the most difficult part was the limitations of rehearsing over Zoom. So much of the ways we traditionally perform are based on being in the same room, so adapting that to a virtual rehearsal format required a lot of time and attention. When it became clear that we would be able to film in-person, we then had to go through the process of designing, blocking, and staging the show in a very short period of time, which presented further challenges. I am incredibly grateful to everyone who helped overcome those obstacles, I know I would not have succeeded without them.

  6. Ahhh! That was so awesome to watch, Lungs was filmed so beautifuly too with all those shots. You did such a fantastic job Hayden! Really really proud! It was such a fun time acting with you again, and you really did a fantastic job. Your I.S is so well done, curious as to why catastrophe specifically drew you to a theatrical sense for it? Both plays have such different lenses to the word “catastrophe” but both really attest to the word! Very well done.

    1. Thank you! I was drawn to use “catastrophe” in this project because of its etymologic history. The root of catastrophe is a Greek word: “katastrephein” which was a theatrical term used to describe the end of a play, particularly a tragedy. We might think of it in a similar way to how we use “denouement” today. From there, it made a lot of sense to connect our modern interpretation of the word to this theatrical origin.

  7. Congratulations, Hayden!

    Completing your chosen project during a full blown pandemic was undoubtedly challenging yet here you are! Do you see any aspects of the pandemic theatrical workspace that may continue to exist beyond the pandemic? How will actors cope with future pandemics differently?

    I’m also curious about your double major. Have there been many other Wooster students who have majored in both Theater & Dance as well as Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies? If so are you aware of what topics their IS projects covered?

    Kudos to you on achieving this milestone event of your Wooster career. I’m very proud of you and all you have accomplished in this very challenging situation we call “life.”

  8. Wow, Hayden! I am so excited for the opportunity to see the performance component of your project–what incredible performances!

  9. What a moving performance, Hayden. I can’t imagine how challenging it must have been to create something under the circumstances we’re in, but you’ve crafted something so powerful around layers of catastrophe. I look forward to learning more about your work. Congratulations!!

  10. Just popping in to say I’m so proud of you and amazed by how this performance came together.

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