Kevin Augustine

Performance, 2024, Grantee Link >

Performer and puppeteer Kevin Augustine received a grant for The People Vs Nature, a new puppet-theater production created by Kevin’s Lone Wolf Tribe. The show involves audience participation to raise empathy about the suffering of animals. As a chimpanzee wastes away in a medical lab, spectators become his jury, deciding whether or not to release him to sanctuary. The chimp, however, balks at being assigned the symbolic status of a presidential turkey—arguing it is unjust to pardon only his life when billions more cry out for their freedom. Kevin writes about what he aims to achieve with The People Vs Nature:

To creatively shine a light on the invisibility of pain and give voice to cries unheard; to offer the opportunity for personal accountability. We will do this through an experiment in collaborative puppetry where audiences assist in bringing to life our puppet cast of animals (chimps, pigs, and a cat). Given the chance to touch the souls of these caged creatures (kept strategically from our daily view), perhaps someone might—for the first time—make different choices tomorrow. In allowing a space for tears, we won’t shy away from breaking hearts, reminding the audience that these mere cloth and foam-rubber puppets represent real life desperate beings, breathing and blinking now beyond the theater walls in need of our intervention.

Kevin has been sculpting his puppet cast for The People VS Nature (including two life-sized chimpanzees) over the past three years and has been writing drafts of the script since 2016. The production will have its world premiere in November 2024 at the La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in New York City.