“It’s a dog eat dog world.” A phrase commonly applied to business or politics, it has never sounded more appropriate than after checking out the North American premiere of Dachshund UN last night. Part of the World Stage programming, this show features a group of dachshunds representing the Commission on Human Rights.
Dachshund UN was first created by Australian sculptor and installation artist Bennett Miller. Miller’s works regularly feature live animals as performers, such as in last night’s show. Dachshund UN was first developed for Next Wave Festival in Melbourne, Australia. Its run at Harbourfront is the first time it’s being presented indoors and on North American soil.
We didn’t know quite what to expect when we went over, but it wasn’t hard to sell us on puppies. When the curtain went up, a gasp of delight went through the audience – DACHSCHUNDS WERE EVERYWHERE! Unlike at most theatre shows, Dachshund UN encourages the audience to take photos and share their experience via Twitter/Instagram. We also engaged in a lot of squealing and catcalling to the dachshunds.
We suppose that there’s some greater meaning that we should’ve gleaned from the show; perhaps a commentary on civics and citizenship? The program notes suggested that the chaos of animal performers in a live theatre environment is about surprise and is an experience worth observing. For us, it was more about self-restraint – do you have any idea how hard it is to resist running up and petting puppies after watching them for 40 minutes??
Some highlights of the night included when Pakistan started to hump Slovenia, the United States would not stop howl-barking the whole time, the Netherlands lazily rested his head on his nameplate and France and the Ukraine were nuzzling besties! Is this a commentary on each of the countries they represent? Perhaps. Or they’re just puppies being puppies.
Pro tip: Be sure to hang around the stage door following the performance to greet the actors as they head out. If you ask extra nicely, their handlers will even let you pet them. Finally!
Dachschund UN is on-stage at Harbourfront Centre’s Enwave Theatre with performances tonight at 7 p.m. or Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Admission is free, on a first come first serve basis.
All images courtesy of Harbourfront Centre.