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By Gus Bode

What would you do for fame? Would you exchange the only attribute that set you apart from anything else for instant stardom’s sake?

Set in the darkest corner of the biggest city on a street that has no name, “Animalice,” a play written and directed by Nico Wood, presents the dismal story about a young woman, Alice Mudwater (Lindsay Greer, a graduate student in speech communication), who seeks shelter from inclement weather in a gallery curated by the cunning Domina Peabody (Andrea Baldwin, a graduate student in speech communication). After a few intimidating discussions and a seductive deal-sealing dance, Domina convinces Alice to sign her humanity away, all in the name of underground fame.

Things aren’t as smooth as they  first seemed, though, as Alice wakes up the next day to find herself locked in a cage as the prisoner of her own desire. Instead of showcasing a famous art exhibit, she is turned into one as a part of Peabody collection called “Don’t Feed the Animals.” Desperate to escape containment and reclaim what she lost, Mudwater teams up with a Doormouse (Hunter Fine, a graduate student in speech communication) and a Cuckoo Clock (Kyle Cheesewright, a graduate student in speech communication) to overthrow Peabody’s art show and prove that Mudwater is more than what she’s been reduced to by the devious curator.

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Lindsay Greer, a graduate student in speech communication, sits in a cage and talks to the Cuckoo Clock Friday while playing Alice Mudwater during “Animalice” in Kleinau Theatre. “Animalice” is a 45-minute play written and directed by Nico Wood. Pat Sutphin | Daily Egyptian

The play’s message rang clear, dictated through Peabody’s dialogue: “Humanness is like money or time. People believe in it, and that’s what makes it real.” Wood, a graduate student in speech communication from Chicago, said her main goal with the play was to push against the idea that being human isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Wood said it’s nothing more than a construction that people invented and believe in.

“The way that we understand what it means to be a human, at this day and age, is starting to change,” Wood said. “Many of the things that we thought only a human can do, a computer can do now. Many of the things that we thought were uniquely human characteristics we find very prevalent in other species, like animals and even plants.”

With all the technology and machinery to outshine humans’ qualities, what, then, do we have left to help relieve feelings of inferiority? An art patron in the play said it perfectly. “The beauty is in (our) aliveness.”

Mildrea Hood, a sophomore from Chicago studying radio-television, said though computers and robots may be able to do most of what people can, nothing can replace the emotions humans can freely express with one another.

“We can love, we can smile and we can laugh,” Hood said. “And we have a persistent nature to break free of our bondage and issues. Robots and computers can’t come close to that.”

Michael Maxwell, a sophomore from East Moline studying radio-television, said he didn’t know what to expect from the play, but he came in with an open mind and agreed with the feelings of originality and creation that were presented throughout. Maxwell said he also picked up on the idea of humanity not being worth all that it used to.

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“I even agree with that,” he said.

Hood said she thought the play accurately portrayed the lengths some people are willing to go to just to get their name recognized. She said it doesn’t help much, either, when there are people like Peabody out there who are trained to manipulate the vulnerable.

“Especially was the case with Alice: She didn’t think she had anything to lose, so she just gave it all away,” Hood said. “People just want to be seen. They hardly think about the legacy they are actually going to leave behind.”

For the last couple thousands of years, humanity has been trying to find its center. However, as Doormouse narrates in the play’s beginning and conclusion, “Centers shift, and concepts move on to search for that next bright spark.”

 

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