Song of the Dodo

I was charmed by the spare immediacy of the troupe, and the show had the most viscerally startling moment of the entire evening.

– OTB Blog, June 2012

Song of the Dodo is collaboratively conceived and performed by Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble. As a three-act play, Song of the Dodo adopts the structure of traditional Greek tragedy to explore contemporary notions of death, grief, and extinction. Song of the Dodo asks how our personal relationship with death and loss relates to larger patterns of mass extinction and environmental destruction.


Song of the Dodo staggers drunkenly into the issue of extinction and ends up making a fool of herself. And isn’t this how most of us react to tragedy?

Drawing on the writings of Euripides and Anne Carson and interviews with actors Nicol Williamson and Katherine Hepburn, the piece sits inside the gap between how we talk about death and how we feel about it. We find grief disguised as rage, pathos diluted to politeness. Dodo is a shriek of lamentation tucked inside a clown show, a traditional Greek tragedy devoured by a contemporary hunger. It is an examination of the many little (and big) extinctions, personal and global, that we ignore every day. Under the direction of company member Jacob Coleman, PETE uses dance, extended voice, lamentation, contemporary design techniques and original music to create a melody of mystery and contradiction intended to move emotion and make space for understanding.

Thank you! This project would not have been possible without the support of the PAC Lab at Portland Actor’s Conservatory and the Artist-In-Residency program at the Headwaters Theatre.  Special thanks to Marya Lowry, Thomas Hummel, Sarah Archer, and Isaac Lamb for their creative participation, Matthew Robins and Ashton Edmonds at Lewis & Clark College for costume and prop assistance, and the many generous people who supported this project financially: Kate Myre, Megan Condit, Nick Cheek-O’Donnell, Jim Lingafelter, Richard Sanderson, Joy Whitehall, Dana Millican, Sara, Zachary Derrick, Scott Coleman, John Berendzen, Zoe Kimball, David Banyan, Robert Walsh, Theresa Lingefelter, Lyle Kopnicky, Daniel, Greg Schasse, Judson Webb, Tim Summers, Paige J, Jim Peerenboom, Shira Milikowsky, Katie Watkins, Firiel Galloway, Samson Syharath, Mizu Desierto, Devan McCoy, Erin Leddy, Bill & Ann Rook, Elizabeth Perez, Jeff Davis, Rachel Jablin, Eric Hull, Lana Carlsen, Tim Johnson, Barbara Dilley, Jeffrey Frace, and Skippy Flinn

“The route that leads to Hades is a simple one; getting back is the hard part”

-From a lost play by Aeschylus