Trial in the Woods

Trial in the Woods


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Trial in the Woods

Author/Editor: Stephanie Barber


On the morning of the 5th gibbous moon, Ovelia Otter attacks and kills Pennstin the young wolf at Bear Chondra’s Mix Flow Get Up And Go exercise class. That same afternoon, Ovelia Otter is brought before a jury of her peers, Judge Bodon Boar presiding. Prosecutor Lynx believes she should be expelled from animal society immediately, while Defense Squirrel S. argues animal instinct ought not to be prosecuted at all. Witness after witness are called to the stand and the forest’s animals hang on the trial’s every word—most more interested in the spectacle than its outcome. One part crime procedural and one part fable, Stephanie Barber’s Trial in the Woods is a bold new play about ethics, the efficacy of punitive justice, and our (human, American) criminal justice system. It’s also very, very funny. (Plays Inverse)

Comedy, Fable, Crime Procedural

Cast: 1 Bear, 1 Boar, 1 Lynx, 1 Squirrel, 1 Otter, 2 Wolves, 1 Elephant, 1 Turtle, 1 Bison, 1 Lizard, 1 Tiger, 1 Hare, 1 Cardinal, 1 Fox, 1 Owl, 1 Macaque, 1 Snake, 2 Deer, 1 Camera Person

“Stephanie Barber’s visionary latest, Trial in the Woods, is a philosophical and frequently hilarious dive into violence, blame, truth, communal responsibility and the absurdity of our institutions. On the surface, this play concerns a crime and a trial, and moves with the deliciously swift pace of a courtroom procedural, but as the interrogations progress, the animals at the center of the trial have much to reveal about the essence of human nature. I love the way Barber’s work never does quite what I expect, always resists the familiar path, so I emerge from her worlds exhilarated and even changed.” —Laura van den Berg, author of I Hold a Wolf by the Ears

If Eugène Ionesco were commissioned to write a posthumanist spoof of The Stranger and wellness culture while on acid, the result might look something like Stephanie Barber’s rollicking and thoroughly enjoyable Trial in the Woods, a play that casts forest animals to act out our (human) legal rituals. With humor and lyricism, Barber uses absurdist allegory to poke holes in the foundational assumptions of social contract theory. Trial in the Woods raises probing questions about the performativity of law and the relationship between abolition and animality, all the while gracefully balancing philosophical insight and madcap wit. — Jackie Wang, author of The Sunflower Cast A Spell To Save Us From The Void

Animal Instinct, Poetry, Law: An Interview with Stephanie Barber. Read this interview here.

90 pages. Published August 10, 2021 by Plays Inverse Press

Additional information

Weight 4 oz
Dimensions 7 × 4.5 × .25 in