Welcome to a very special extra holiday episode of Our Hen House! Just in time for Thanksgiving, we are re-releasing this recording of our world-premiere performance of John Yunker’s radio play, Sanctuary, recorded live at NYC’s Symphony Space during the 2017 Compassion Arts and Culture & Animals Festival! This episode also features an introduction to the play from Our Hen House’s John Frusciante and Michael Harren, who discuss the process of staging the production as well as some tips for navigating Thanksgiving as a vegan.
Sanctuary tells the story of Richard and Lisa, a happily-married couple whose blissful retirement to a small town is upended when Lisa not only suddenly decides to go vegan, but offers their guest studio to her new animal-activist friend Meg and decides to celebrate Thanksgiving sans turkey. A blindsided Richard invites his unsuspecting pal Charley in the hopes of forcing Lisa to stick with the traditional meal. The resulting tensions soon push relationships over the edge. Equal parts poignant and humorous, the piece provides moments of genuine identification for anyone who has experienced the struggles and joys of navigating their vegan ethics around loved ones who might not quite understand.
“When we think of animal-rights activism, we often think of protests,” says Yunker. “But equally vivid conflicts are taking place over dining room tables and in restaurants and at barbecues.”
Sanctuary was written by playwright John Yunker, and this production was directed by John Frusciante. Live sound effects were provided by Eric Milano, with pre-recorded sound effects by Michael Harren. The episode’s cast features John Frusciante as Richard, Michael Harren as Charley, Eric Milano as The Narrator, Jasmin Singer as Meg, and Mariann Sullivan as Lisa.
Jasmin, a long-time proponent of using the arts, especially theater, as a way to advocate for veganism, says, “The arts, and theater in particular, offer a unique lens through which an audience can safely confront their own behaviors, such as what they choose to eat, and why. In Sanctuary, Yunker accomplishes just that, with dark humor and quick wit as the moving forces behind this powerful play.”
Mariann is pleased that “none of the characters are heroes and none are villains. These are just ordinary people struggling with what happens when they become aware of what is happening to animals and have to do something about it.”
As always, the award-winning weekly Our Hen House podcast is hosted by Mariann Sullivan and Jasmin Singer.
This episode is brought to you in part through the generosity of A Well-Fed World. A Well-Fed World provides the means for change by empowering individuals, social justice organizations, and political decision makers to embrace the benefits of plant-based foods and farming. Learn more at awfw.org.
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The Our Hen House theme song is written and sung by the incredible Michael Harren, who is also OHH’s Director of Communications! Don’t forget to tune into Our Hen House’s other two podcasts: The Teaching Jasmin How to Cook Vegan Podcast, and The Animal Law Podcast.