Chronopolitics with Dogs and Trees in Stanford (2013)

This interspecies performance is a durational exploration into night-time reading, imagination and sleeping in the company of non-humans. It widens the sphere of performance to a collective consisting of human and non-human actors.

What happens when we read Kafka’s Investigations of a Dog to a dog, or the ‘Treebeard’ chapter from The Lord of the Rings to a herb plant; what happens to us when our witness is something other than a human being, with another kind of a body/stem and ways of responding? Following Derrida’s questions: Who witnesses to what and for whom? Who proves, who looks, who observers whom and what? What is there for knowledge, of certainty, of truth, of love?

Visitor-participants were invited to read - or listen to someone else reading - from books since the 17th century about speaking dogs and trees to the dogs, trees an other plants. At three scheduled times Alan Read read his texts “Plant Fear”, “Nature Table” and “Redeemed Night”. Those who wished read or listened to sleep, slept in the company of non-human and human co-actors and woke up when the morning broke.

The drop-in performance lasted from Thursday 27th June 7.30 pm on 7.30 next morning. It took place in the Performance Studies international 19# Conference in the Stanford University, California, in the studio Roble 42, on its balcony and in its environment.

The genealogy of this performance

Chronopolitics with Dogs and Trees in Stanford was born in collaboration with Alan Read, Professor of Theatre & Director of the Performance Foundation at King’s College London. On the one hand the performance is a response to the chapter “Redeemed Night” exploring the night-time reading and imagination in Read’s Theatre, Intimacy and Engagement (2008), and to his three day reading event in PSi 18# Conference in Leeds.

On the other hand Chronopolitics with Dogs and Trees in Stanford derives from Chronopolitics – III Memo of Time, an endless, branching performance that began in March 2010. It belongs to the series Memos of Time – performances with and for non-humans (since 2006), which is a part of my artistic research on our relationship to the non-human, on duration and potentiality at the Theatre Academy Helsinki, and the latest of the three memo performance series since 1996 exploring the relations between performance, environment, “nature” and non-human.

Video excerpts by a viewer:

Texts on performance


  • Tuija Kokkonen & Alan Read: ”Chronopolitics with Dogs and Trees in Stanford.” Performance Research 19.3.


  • "Live Performance as an Exploration and Making of Futures: The Case of Non-Humans." Keynote, The Finnish theatre Research Society May 2014.
  • “On Conversing with Dogs and Plants.” Animal Studies Event, Helsinki April 2014.
  • “Bodies, Stems, Trunks: On the Meanings of the Interspecies Interaction.” Body and Society discussion series, Turku February 2014.
  • “Memos of Time – performances with and for non-humans.” Theatre Studies, University of Helsinki February 2014.
  • “Conversing with Other Species, Renegotiating ‘Us’.” Symposium on Interspecies Performance. Theatre Academy/University of the Arts Helsinki September 2013.