Based on Franz Kafka’s short story, A Report to an Academy
Adapted from the original German by Guy Sprung, Directed by Guy Sprung
Mon. January 28 – Sun. February 17, 2013
“I deliberately don’t use the word ‘freedom’. ‘Freedom’ is a powerfully seductive word which your so-called civilized world
uses very cleverly, very effectively, to entrap and occupy whole continents.” – Redpeter
Infinithéâtre presents the world premiere of Kafka’s Ape, Guy Sprung’s adaptation of Franz Kafka’s A Report to an Academy, from the original German. Kafka’s Ape runs from Jan. 28-Feb.17 at Bain St. Michel. This disturbing satire is a theatrical tour-de-force starring company favourite Howard Rosenstein as keynote speaker, the primate Mr. Redpeter. Born in 1883, Kafka is one of the most influential authors of the 20th Century.
Captured on the Gold Coast and imprisoned in a cage, Redpeter’s only escape route is to become a walking, talking, spitting, hard-drinking member of the Peace Industry, the entrepreneurial world of mercenary soldiers – one of the biggest growth industries of the 21st Century. In detailing the journey of his enforced evolution from apehood to humanhood, Mr. Redpeter is a living embodiment of the irony that perhaps now he is more animal than he ever was as an ape. Witness a human become an ape become a human before your very eyes…
When Kafka’s piece, Ein Bericht an eine Academie (Report to an Academy) was first published in 1917, the Great War was still raging. The millions of humans plunged into the serious business of killing each other were proving Homo sapiens to be vastly superior to chimpanzees when it came to mass murder and genocide. Writer/director Guy Sprung has taken Kafka’s story, originally a tale of the captured simian turned into a celebrated variety show act, and adapted it to have Redpeter end up as a distinguished member of the ‘private security industry’, a euphemism that white-washes his reality as a mercenary soldier. Sprung hopes Kafka will not object to this contemporizing of his work, “Here, Redpeter has been assimilated into one of the most heinous occupations that Homo sapienshave embraced on their evolutionary journey- the privatization of the killing and subjugating of other human beings for profit. Just as Redpeter, in the original, had to distort his animal nature to be accepted into humanhood, so in our version, he has to distort his nature even more to become the ideal prototype for a successful corporate military citizen.” Kafka’s central thesis, that other animals have a dignity and a respect for Mother Nature and their own species which Homo sapiens have lost, has been nudged into the 21st Century.
Kafka’s works are filled with themes of alienation, physical and psychological brutality and mystical transformations. Sprung, whose father was in the military, has brought into the context of Kafka’s tale a more immediate access by having ‘a report to an academy’ (of nineteenth/early twentieth century scientists) be instead ‘a keynote address to an annual general meeting’ (of shareholders, board members and members of the executive council) of the fictitious company, Graywater. Ironically the largest of the ‘Private Military Corporations’ doing business with the American government today is called Academi, formerly known as Blackwater.
Theatrically, audiences will be fascinated being part of the ‘meta’ experience of watching an actor play an ape playing a human. Sometimes it is the ape that is more graceful and sometimes the human more brutish. There are many layers of nuanced movement to be incorporated while maintaining the flow of storytelling through the text.
Kafka’s Ape Jan. 28-Feb. 17
Infinithéâtre at Bain St. Michel, 5300, rue St-Dominique (corner Maguire)
Tuesday to Saturday at 8:00 pm, Sunday matinee at 2:00pm
Tickets: Regular: $25, Students/Seniors: $20, Infinithéâtre 6Packs available (6 tickets for $68)
Half-Price Previews: Mon. Jan. 28, Tues. Jan. 29 at 8pm
Pay-What-You-Can Sunday: Feb. 3 at 2pm
Talkback Tuesdays: a post-performance informal discussion with the artists