Caryl Churchill, The Skriker, with Maxine Peake, Manchester Royal Exchange, 3 July 2015-1 August 2015

This performance of Caryl Churchill, The Skriker, with Maxine Peake looks fabulous; I’d not, I’m ashamed to admit, heard of this play before. Very appropriately, I’ve just finished my chapter on werewolf narratives, ‘”But by blood no wolf am I”: Language and Agency, Instinct and Essence – Transcending Antinomies in Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver series’. My remarks here seem relevant to this, too:

Amidst post-Romanticism and twenty-first century concerns about the environment, accompanied by currents of thought that seek to devalue the centrality of the human, werewolf narratives often express a longing for a less antagonistic relationship with nature, alongside utopian aspirations towards the heightened powers (particularly sensory perception) and imagined intensities of animal existence. However, many such fictions adopt an uncritical admiration for the instinctual and a postmodern denigration of agency and subjectivity that can lead to unexpectedly reactionary positions—as when hierarchies become legitimated by an essentialism derived from animal analogies. Generally, werewolves embody determinism more than other paranormal characters, biology inescapably dictating their identity.

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