When theater and related forms of live performance explore the borderlands labeled animal and autism, they both reflect and affect their audiences’ understanding of what it means to be human. Affect, Animals, and Autists maps connections across performances that question the borders of the human whose neurodiverse experiences have been shaped by the diagnostic label of autism, and animal-human performance relationships that dispute and blur anthropocentric edges.
By analyzing specific structures of affect with the vocabulary of emotions, Marla Carlson builds upon the conception of affect articulated by psychologist Silvan Tomkins. The book treats a diverse selection of live performance and archival video and analyzes the ways in which they affect their audiences. The range of performances includes commercially successful productions such as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, War Horse, and The Lion King as well as to the more avant-garde and experimental theater created by Robert Wilson and Christopher Knowles, Back to Back Theatre, Elevator Repair Service, Pig Iron Theatre, and performance artist Deke Weaver.