“Monkey shines in unpredictable ways… a journey as holy and outrageous as the mythology of Hindu monkey gods or of 1950s Hollywood science fiction, redemption and sacrifice all rolled up like King Kong at the top of the Empire State Building. At just 60 minutes, Monkey offers a compact, nuggety mindblower…”
P. Gregory Springer, Smilepolitely
“’Apes are super monkeys. And humans are super apes. And gods are super human.’ And NASA and space exploration, we are given to understand at this point, has always been about cosmology, mystery, the divine—in short, the search for heaven and for the radically alien and other, all at the same time. The second half of Weaver’s piece, to stay with Derrida’s parting terms a second more, is very much indeed about good and evil, suffering and redemption, fallenness and transcendence, but it’s also about how those don’t map in any ‘rational’ way onto the human/animal relation—all of which has to do with the second reason I mentioned at the outset for why scientific knowledge will never settle our relations with other living creatures. The problem is not getting our facts straight about how much DNA we share with chimps or whether New Caledonian crows really use tools. The problem is what Cora Diamond, in a wonderful essay, calls ‘the difficulty of reality’—a phrase she borrows from novelist John Updike. For her—and I think for Weaver—’the difficulty of reality’ means ‘experiences in which we take something in reality to be resistant to our thinking it, or possibly to be painful in its inexplicability, difficult in that way, or perhaps awesome and astonishing in its inexplicability.’ And it is held (often in the form of art and literature) explicitly in contrast to what she calls ‘the difficulty of philosophy,’ to an ideal of philosophy that models itself on science: the idea that if we can just get our arguments and concepts straight, then the world will finally be domesticated, as it were, made transparent to sense, our tumultuous psychological lives as animals in relation to animals brought to heel.”
Cary Wolfe, “Apes Like Us” (commentary on MONKEY, Animal Acts, co-edited by Una Chaudhuri and Holly Hughes)
A funny, yet serious, meditation on humans, nature, human nature, and hope, MONKEY opened on February 12, 2009 – Darwin’s 200th birthday.
Inspired by sources as curiously disparate as the television program Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, the Hindu epic The Ramayana, the Lost Boys of Sudan, chaos theory, and Paul Bunyan, the piece weaves together a collection of compellingly interconnected short stories: myth, science, monologs, powerpoint lectures, dance and video. (photos by Valerie Oliveiro).
MONKEY was performed by Deke Weaver and Jennifer Allen. Writing, video, and codirection by Deke Weaver. Choreography and codirection by Jennifer Allen. Environmental design by Andy Warfel. Lighting design by Susan Hudson and David Swinford. Stage management by Valerie Oliveiro. Technician/performers Sam Gusfield and Jeff Kolar,