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Photos by Zivanai Matangi ENGLISH | PLAIN ENGLISH

Kafka’s Ape

Phala O. Phala & Tony Bonani Miyambo (South Africa)

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“The fact that it’s actually more relevant today than when it was written 100 years ago suggests that the world we currently live in has some serious problems.” — Heather Taylor Johnson, InDaily

“The audience is left both dumbfounded and in awe at the end of this hour of theatre. It has been a mighty trip into a hideous hypothetical. It has been a display of masterful acting, it has been a graphic lesson in humanity and an unforgettable experience.” — Samela Harris, The Barefoot Review

Kafka’s Ape is based on a short story called A Report to an Academy, by Franz Kafka. There is only one actor.

It compares to society in South Africa. In the past, people there were separated based on race and skin colour. This rule is now gone. The performance talks about how it is tough to understand who you are, and what it means now that the rule is gone.

An ape named Red Peter is caught. He wants to escape his cage. He learns to act like humans. He asks whether who we are is based on how we look. His story makes us think about whether different is bad.

The actor, Miyambo, won many awards for this role, such as:

  • Winner of Outstanding Performance award at Prague Fringe Festival 2019
  • Best Satire Award at New York’s United Solo Festival 2019
  • Graham F. Smith Peace Foundation Award at the Adelaide Fringe Festival 2021

Open captions in English for all shows.
Post-show dialogue on 13 January 2023, with speech to text interpretation available upon request. Please email your request to info@singaporefringe.com before 22 December 2022.

Artist Statement

The play uses the point of view of an animal to show us how it is hard to understand things that are different. Humans and animals are similar. The ape wants to be like humans, even though the human world has many problems. For example, some people might be treated badly based on their race, sex, or where they come from.

Kafka's Ape shows us that there is something outside our normal world. There is also "the other".

Red Peter feels trapped, which makes him learn the truth about who he is. The play makes you identify with “the other”. It also makes you wonder how you feel about those who are different from you.

“The fact that it’s actually more relevant today than when it was written 100 years ago suggests that the world we currently live in has some serious problems.” — Heather Taylor Johnson, InDaily

“The audience is left both dumbfounded and in awe at the end of this hour of theatre. It has been a mighty trip into a hideous hypothetical. It has been a display of masterful acting, it has been a graphic lesson in humanity and an unforgettable experience.” — Samela Harris, The Barefoot Review

An adaptation of Franz Kafka’s A Report to an Academy, Kafka’s Ape is a solo performance about a primate’s struggle to overcome the confines of captivity. The hard-hitting play presents a metaphorical view on South African society, highlighting the complexities of identity in post-apartheid South Africa as well as in the human race.

An ape named Red Peter is captured. In his quest to break out of his confinement, he learns to imitate humanity and contests identity based on outward appearance. Through his journey, Kafka’s Ape questions the understanding of otherness.

Miyambo has received multiple accolades for this powerful performance, including Winner of Outstanding Performance award at Prague Fringe Festival 2019, Best Satire Award at New York’s United Solo Festival 2019, and the Graham F. Smith Peace Foundation Award at the Adelaide Fringe Festival 2021, among others.

Post-show dialogue on 13 January 2023.

Artist Statement

The play explores, through the animal gaze, the tension between self and other. The borderland between human and animal presents the ape’s insatiable desire to become human, despite a world laden with racism, sexism, chauvinism, tribalism, etc.

Kafka’s Ape opens up the reality that there exists something outside of and in addition to our “normal,” “typical,” “wholesome” world—and that is “the other”. For Red Peter, a feeling of being trapped becomes determinative for existential truth. The play compels one to identify with and to meditate on their response to otherness, to interrogate how external sociological constructs and internal psychological constructs define the existential condition of the self and the other.

Download artist biographies

Date & Duration
12 to 14 January 2023, 8pm
50 min with no intermission

Location
Esplanade Theatre Studio

Price
$32 | $24*
*Concession for students, NSF, senior citizens and PWD cardholders

Accessibility Features
Open captions in English for all shows

Rating
General

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