Kevin Kling wants us to get in touch with our animal side. Or at least, to get in touch with the animals around us.
The storyteller and playwright's latest collaboration with Open Eye Figure Theatre, Humanimal, explores the deep connection we have not just with our pets, but also with the animals that make up our world.
"There's a Robert Bly quote that says, 'Our country developed a neurosis after it stopped working with large animals.' Having something more powerful than you that you work in tandem with is an idea we have lost," Kling says.
Kling has his own menagerie, including dogs, cats, and horses. "I always have animals around us. It is amazing what they do for you."
Kling is working with Open Eye's master puppeteer Michael Sommers, instrumentalist and singer Simone Perrin, and cellists Jacqueline Ultan and Michelle Kinney to create the show. The team has produced a piece over the past several Augusts, including last year's Politico and 2009's Flight, which explored the life-changing motorcycle accident Kling suffered in 2001.
Back to the horses, which are housed in western Hennepin County. "One of the horses, Zeus, almost died, but we brought him back to health. He is nine now, and kind of a naughty guy. When I'm up on him, he takes such good care of himself. I can't get even get him to run. When I try, he's like, 'Are you sure that's a good idea?' I can feel him taking care of me," Kling says.
For a storyteller, stories about animals can be found everywhere. That helps to fuel the first half of the show. In the second, Kling and Sommers will take on the roles of hosts of a nature program. "There is a big disconnect between this guy and the animal world he espouses to know everything about. In the end, he comes around. He is trying to become an animal himself. In his failure, he finds something even greater," Kling says.
The others have their inspirations as well. "They've found that there is so much music for and about animals," Kling says. "But most of it isn't written on cello. These three women, they are like sirens. They have a way of calling out the animal."
Kling finds that the material also ties in the greater spiritual questions that often lie at the center of his works. "There is this idea of inner and outer landscapes; the way we perceive the world and the way it perceives us. We live with a dualistic worldview. When it is balanced, it is fine, but we have retreated into the inner landscape," he says. "This piece is a discovery of that dualism and of those two worlds. And the show is funny."
IF YOU GO
Friday through Aug. 18
Open Eye Figure Theatre, 506 E. 24th St., Minneapolis
For more information and reservations, call 612.874.6338 or visit online.