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Which Came First Monkey or Man Essay

There’s something to be said about a woman who can play a monkey for almost 90 minutes, props are always given to those that embody a character for an entire play, but what can be said about those whom embody a different species? That is something that cannot be done easily. But that isn’t what needs to be talked about. Yes the acting is fantastic; Kathryn Hunter does an incredible imitation of a man who was once a monkey in his past life. So not only is this actress playing a different species is a different gender as well. The play has a very good topic of beginning one way.

Through the play you begin to notice that the half man half monkey is much more sophisticated that you would have ever thought, possibly even more so than you are. In my opinion I begin to sense a somewhat political agenda, but that comes from Franz Kafka not even the playwright, Colin Teevan. We are being told a story about a “non-human” turned polite human, how can we not see the irony. Humans have always tried to make themselves a better group but in doing so have messed everything up, in todays society even not just in 1917.

As a present day viewer you sense that this monkey-man is better than you are, he changed everything about himself in order to survive and is now the talk of the town. We can barely put anything involving technology down. We adapt the things around us in order to not change our lives, people wanted the ability to contact people where ever they are so we created cell phones to call people. Talking to people got to difficult so text messages were used more and more. We wanted to check our emails when we weren’t near a computer, so phones are included with email capability. Are we as humans able to put down the phone to talk to anyone?

That’s just cell phones though, there are so many other things that we have created and altered to make our lives easier, instead of just changing ourselves in to a less high maintenance people. Everything has its place for this play. The reasoning behind the writing of the short story is believed to tell a story of Jews coming to the west and changing things about how they were in order to protect themselves. Some had completely lost there heritage. Though I don’t know how the rehearsal process went between the creative team and the actor, I can possibly say that this play is a member of the postmodernist phenomenon.

We begin by seeing a monkey-man walk out on to the stage and he addresses us. We have a new perception of life being represented through a monkey-man. Though there is only one character we already know that he was created from a short story that was written to share a “theme” of identity lost and found. Though I saw the play at a different time than the class I am almost positive that it was not the same show has my peers, this show probably has a different feel as she performs it.

I’m sure one day it has a sense of the monkey-man is happy for what he did, based off the high energy of the actress, but I’m sure that is has a low feel, due to low energy. Though still very good different energy with the shows audiences can help create a different feel. Not in recent history would a monkey be able to talk, sophisticatedly about what his dreams, goals, triumphs and tribulations were. It’s just not heard of very often. All of these shows key points show a postmodern play. I’m sure that the giant picture on the back wall of a monkey was an unintentional thing but one cannot say that it was not.

The play is a wonderful piece of art that makes you question how theatre should be performed nowadays. Yes, one-person shows are becoming more and more popular in non-commercial theatre, only because less people you have to pay, less insurance, and we all know that theatre is becoming a highly expensive thing today. But a one-person play involving a man-monkey is one thing that isn’t seen very often. There is a reason this play is not on Broadway; it doesn’t seem attractive to tourists. So now we wonder the play alking about altering identity in order to “fit in” could this be a commentary on theatre being forced to alter its ways, going with the grain, not going insane and not going mad? Can we as artist say that we are conforming slightly? The arts center is in midtown where Broadway continues to be the height of commercial theatre just a couple of blocks away from the biggest houses in theatre, though it will never perform there. Kafka wrote about a monkey-man’s self identity, Teevan writes about the man watching and his identity. Who’s better the monkey or the man?


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