project: Anne and Que, Pet Prisoner

ANNE & QUE, Pet Prisoner

A play conceived, written, and directed by Jana Leo
Performed by Polly Korbel and Neruda Williams
New York 2015 and 2022

Recreated from an “experiment in living” created by Jana Leo and Terry Williams. In that project, two strangers lived together 24-hours a day for three days — one participant, a paroled felon, acting as a voluntary prisoner of the other. The performance involves two characters, Anne and Que.

Anne, a do-gooder liberal, feels isolated from the world and deeply lonely. She encounters literature for a program that re-socializes prisoners within people’s private homes. She agrees to participate, adapts her apartment to bring a prisoner home, and is sent her “Pet Prisoner,” named Que. Que is only interested in money and in making an attempt at a life outside prison, but still, feels as though he doesn’t fit in anywhere. He’s clueless except in regard to his physicality, and even that is pure narcissism. Anne, a free citizen, is a prisoner to the virtual world; Que, a former real-world prisoner, is now more restrained by his own limitations; both are desperate to find some way to live in the present, but are worlds apart.

Anne & Que and The Pet Prisoner (a program that joins penal and civil life) exist to help us realize both the absurdity of the current prison system, as well as of urban living. The script and performances present the questions: is it possible to form a relationship with another person as if they were your pet?  Would it give you comfort? Can there be mutual respect without free will? Why do we imprison ourselves in our daily life?

Anne and Que is based on the texts Pet Prisoner (2010-2013) and Experiment in Living (New York, 2014) and recreated on a private apartment on 2022 by Jana Leo and Terry Williams

DURATION: 80 minutes
VENUE: INVISIBLE-EXPORTS is located at 89 Eldridge Street, just south of Grand Street.

JANA LEO | ANNE & QUE, Pet Prisoner (a play in my apartment)

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Anne & Que, Pet Prsioner was first staged  within the four walls of a 450 square foot traditional  LES, New York railroad apartment.The two characters, Anne and Que, operate in situ amidst a small audience of ten people. This setting challenges traditional theater: it takes place in an actual apartment, the stage is gone, there is no seating and no barrier between the audience and the actors. Like prison, Anne & Que is in close quarters.

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For the second time, Anne & Que, Pet Prisoner was staged in Copenhagen, Denmark as a part of the workshop at the at the Royal Danish Academy, Schools of Architecture. The script was divided on scenes and each scene of the play was assigned to a couple of students. I work with each couple in creating a form for the text. After the workshop week the play was presented in an empty room, 500SQF. There were ten couples; each person in the couple represents the character of Anne or the character and Que. The architecture students, now actors, acted their part in the set they created. The text flowed from one couple to another keeping a narrative and the ten couples became two characters. During the presentation, I could see how the set can became an installation in an museum or gallery setting and one single audience member, at the time, will go through the play, walking among actors on a journey.

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© Jana Leo  New York-Copenhaguen

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The play will continue into Tupperware Theater-A New York Resident Adopts a play.