Tony Perucci, a UNC performance studies professor, is directing The Performance Collective’s current show, “Eating Animals,” based on the novel of the same name by Jonathan Safran Foer.
The book, which was the summer reading selection for both UNC and Duke University, discusses the issues associated with the contemporary factory farming industry.
Staff writer Sarah Haderbache spoke with Perucci about the show and the ethics of eating animals.
DTH: Why did you decide to adapt “Eating Animals” into a performance piece?
Tony Perucci: The Performance Collective does very politically focused work, so as soon as this book was announced as the summer reading book, I had the idea to do the project. It was the perfect kind of piece for us because it’s about a very complicated and thorny political and ethical issue. It’s not one that has a simple right or wrong position.
DTH: So you wanted to work with a politically problematic issue?
TP: And I wanted it to challenge my own positions. I am not a vegetarian. But I am very thoughtful about what I do buy, and eat and cook. Ever since I was a college student, I had a deep suspicion that there was something ethically suspicious about eating meat. So I did what most of us do: I just didn’t think about it.
DTH: How did the show come together?
TP: It was challenging. Parts of the book, as Foer has written them, are friendly to an adaptation because as he says, the way we justify eating factory-farmed meat is the story we tell about what we eat. It’s also why it’s hard to give up eating meat because eating practices are so bound up with the stories we tell about our culture. Many of the stories of our childhood are bound up with the things we were eating.