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Martha Clarke's Endangered Species

MARTHA CLARKE'S most recent theater piece, Endangered Species, was supposedly about animals. As Clarke tells it, the piece took root when her Miracolo d’Amore, which included scenes of nudity and sexual cruelty, drew charges of obscenity at the 1988 Spoleto Festival. Wounded, Clarke took refuge by spending time with the Circus Flora, a small circus that was also performing at Spoleto. There she made friends with the eponymous Flora, a nine-year-old African elephant; there she learned about elephant poaching from one of the circus’ co-owners, Ivor David Balding.

Out of this idea of innocent animality (her own, I believe, as well as Flora’s) under attack grew her new play, whose cast came to include 7 animals as well as 11 humans. Nor were the animals to be considered supporting actors. During the rehearsals Clarke was at pains to tell journalists that the animals had their own personalities,

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