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In many folktales, the fox is the slyest of the animals, the cunning trickster. In Aesop’s fables, Native American legends, and Chinese mythology, foxes are always deliberately misleading other animals for their own benefit, stealing food, and transforming into beautiful girls to seduce men. But who’s ever heard of a folktale where the fox cries? And what series of events could possibly have caused this vulpine creature to show such emotion?

Find out at Back Alley Theater this weekend, where three local artists are putting on a performance of this uncommon myth in the fittingly named Fox Cried.

A collaboration between visual/performance artist Jane Claire Remick, musician/composer Ethan Foote, and playwright/actor Jack Novak, Fox Cried made its debut at the 2013 Source Festival as a short play. Showing this weekend in an expanded, hour-long version, the performance further explains the “fox cried” myth through choreographed movement and video art created specifically for Back Alley Theater. Remick calls Fox Cried a “site-adoptive piece,” one that warps in relationship to its venue.

Each of the three collaborators brings specific areas of expertise to the show, and each appears on stage as one of the story’s three animal characters. “The audience [members] are never sure if they are witnessing the interactions among three artists attempting to put on a show, or the unfolding drama of the myth’s central characters, Fox, Hare, and Crow,” explains Remick. Novak, the son of a folklorist, narrates the story and plays Hare. Foote, who plays Crow, composed and recorded original music for the show, while Remick (Fox) took the lead on choreography and visuals, making all the props and masks by hand.

A combination lecture and performance of the eponymous myth, Fox Cried is an experimental, contemporary investigation into the cultural, political, and personal importance of mythology and folklore. “It explores the sacred vs. the mundane, ancient vs. modern,” says Remick, “giving weight and volume to the story itself.”

Fox Cried runs this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 8 pm at the Back Alley Theater, 5501 Colorado Ave NW, $10. Tickets available here.

Photo by C. Stanley Photography