Written by Raymond Diaz
TIGER, the 5th performance from Deke Weaver’s Unreliable Bestiary project, brings together a performance set on a more intimate stage. Through years of research and personal experiences Deke Weaver brings to the audience an abstract and almost curious performance, accompanied by dance, playing different characters to give a sense of location but also light-hearted comedic tone, as well as not straying away from rawness and expressing anger with how little time the Earth may have. A raw and intimate performance bringing together a series of short stories that string together the main point, tigers.
The performer, Deke Weaver, used a variety of ways to tell the stories between humans and tigers. At the beginning of the performance he presented a slideshow showing various lakes and bodies of water then transitioning to a place he had travelled to for research, the Sundarbans. Here he transitioned into a character to give us the feeling of a person who may have been from there and then began to talk of the tiger that was found roaming about and had begun eating people. Here he went for a more standup approach where he engaged with the audience and began to ask us questions of how to get the tiger out safely, then showed us an ad for Calvin Klein on the cologne Obsession. Then there was a video of a woman dancing to give the effect of the cologne. However he went back to the news of the tiger. The tiger was blown out of proportions by the media and a movie was spawned from the event, a movie titled Roar, however in the end the tiger was killed. There was a huge outpour for the tiger and brought more awareness for animals, but also the fact that the tiger was roaming about due to an increase in water levels that caused the tigers in the Sundarbans to start leaving where they would normally be. Here he asked the audience to get up and repeat the words he pointed at so we would summon the tiger to see what to do. But the one story that had the most impact on me was the one with the student who was lost in the rain. Seeing how the boy didn’t see anything out of the ordinary with having a tiger and then treating the tiger normally as if it were a dog was interesting. The community loved the tiger as well until a parent wasn’t paying attention and the tiger ran after the child, however, with a creature such as a tiger it is always best to be safe and keep your distance. Seeing the normalcy of having the tiger in a state like Missouri I believe was just awe inspiring.
Themes of home and journey resonated throughout this as we saw that in the story with the boy he had to help him return home, but along the way learned of the events that led to this. While Deke as well had spent time researching tigers and the effects of global warming, the two were intertwined in a state like Missouri where it would be unlikely to see someone own a tiger. Seeing how the town was flooded due to the river holding too much water and seeing how the tiger was set loose and had followed the lore and myths that had once been spoken. That the tiger always faces the direction of the river and seeing how the tiger travelled towards the river. The themes resonated with this as we saw Deke’s questions find themselves being asked here as well in the United States.