Artslink.co.za – kafka’s ape under the red roof at afda

Kafka’s ape returns from sold-out successes in cape town and abroad to the red roof theatre at AFDA in johannesburg from 22-23 march at 20:00.

Adapted from a local version of franz kafka’s “report to the academy”, kafka’s ape is a solo performance about a primate’s struggle to overcome the confines of captivity. In seeking self-preservation, and desperate to find, by any means necessary, a way out, he decides to abandon his ‘identity’ to learn and assume that of a human being.

Tasked to address an academy on his adaptation to humankind, red peter reflects on the human condition and his crisis of identity, plunging the play into an allegorical observation of the south african society through the eyes of the other.Cape town

kafka’s ape presents a point of view that questions traditional boundaries, categories, and norms, where beauty, harmony, and symmetry are usurped by cruelty, dissonance, and abnormality. It opens up the reality that there exists something outside of and in addition to our “normal,” “typical,” “wholesome” world, and that is “other”.

The play compels audiences to identify with, and to meditate on, their rejoinder to other(ness) as it highlights the complexities of identity in post-apartheid south africa and in the human race in general.

The 55-minute play is adapted from the kafka short story and directed by phala O.Human condition phala with tony bonani miyambo in a sublime turn as red peter the ape. It began its life many years ago as a masters’ directing project, and over the years has morphed into a hard-hitting and crucial participant to a much-needed and relevant contemporary cultural dialogue. “it has been an incredible journey of growth and belief,” says miyambo. “belief in the dialogue we have been initiating, and growth as a successful independent project on the local and international stage.”

Winning the standard bank silver ovation award in 2015, kafka’s ape was also nominated for the 2015 naledi cutting-edge theatre award.Human race invitation to the amsterdam fringe festival in 2016 followed, with the play scooping a nomination for best international production award. A sold-out, critics’ favourite season at the alexander bar in cape town saw it nominated for a 2017 fleur du cap best one-person show award, and it has recently successfully toured to chicago and california. It played a sold-out season at popart theatre in johannesburg, and a sold-out return season in cape town. Says miyambo: “after many years of playing on a wing and a prayer, it is amazing to see the play catch the temper of the times, and we are delighted to be back in jozi with an opportunity to play for all who missed us last time at popart.”

human race

Kafka’s ape performs at the AFDA red roof theatre, 41 frost avenue auckland park, on thursday 22 and friday 23 march at 20h00. There is ample parking on the AFDA campus. Tickets are R100 and can be reserved at redrooftheatre@afda.Co.Za and paid at the door. A cash bar will also be available. On thursday night, a post-show discussion led by itumeleng molefi with the creators will take place.

“sitting in the audience for those two nights, I could not help but think of what jordan peele refers to as the “sunken place” in his seminal film get out. Peele commented that for him “the sunken place is a metaphor for the system that is suppressing the freedom of black people, of many outsiders, and minorities.” it speaks to how we get silenced when we do finally make it to white spaces and criticise these systems of oppression.Cape town experiencing kafka’s ape is like sitting in a master class about the sunken place.” – daily vox

“the simple staging of this adaptation of kafka’s report to the academy allows the incredible skills of performer tony miyambo and the deft touch of director phala ookeditse phala to shine. Tony is riveting, moving and heart wrenching, as he expands on his journey from ape to man, and in so doing delivers the horrors of what being man is. His huge physical presence and control fill the tiny space, and the subtle emotion of his delivery are both mesmerising and absolutely haunting… there are few occasions where a single performer can tap into the deep emotion of storytelling and ideas to make the audience prickle with feeling and tears.Cape town tony’s ape/man does that. Kafka’s ape is superb” – weekend special

“minimalist décor, subtle music, lights and brilliant acting succeed in enthralling the audience with questions about the human condition, external realities, conformity and freedom. It’s personal, tragic, funny and gooseflesh-inducing.” – CUE

“miyambo is a performer of nimble and great diversity. His interpretation of red peter is utterly flawless in his mimicry of a monkey mimicking a human interface and how his unique quandary is cynical and naive simultaneously. Nothing feels out of place in the interstices of this red peter.Human race miyambo’s performance will leave you shattered by how ideas of humanity cleave with the monkey’s reflection on the base hypocrisies of the human race. In miyambo’s hands, it is completely mesmerising… [an] astonishing piece of theatre” – robyn sassen, MY VIEW.

“I hazard that kafka’s ape is both ‘ours’ and ‘theirs’, a happy middle ground filled with beautiful unhappiness. You can’t but feel like an insider, partly the crisp clear narrative, partly because you’re inside, but detailed energetic genius & superhuman physicality pulled this one off.” – christopher steenkamp

“it’s a masterful adaption and breathtaking performance.Human race injecting mirth and lighter moments into the intense script…this is a beautifully crafted piece of theatre.” – robyn cohen

Phala is a dramaturge, theatre marker and director with 10 years of professional experience. He has directed and acted in numerous industrial theatre, radio drama and mainstream works. His re-imagination of matsemela manaka’s egoli opened the 40th anniversary of the market theatre in 2016. He was a dramaturge for jessica nupen’s don’t trust the border (2018) commissioned by kampnagel in humburg, germany. His directing credits include assistant director to john kani in shakespeare’s othello (2010), mbeki and other nightmares (2010), john kani’s nothing but the truth (2013 & 2014), zakes mda’s you fool how could the sky fall (2014), born around here (2016), and athol furgard’s boesman & lena (2016).Human race

Tony is a BA dramatic arts graduate from the university of the witwatersrand (2008 – 2011) majoring in performance studies and television studies. Tony has received various accolades in both fields. In 2011 tony was chosen to be part of the nsseexchange program in finland in which he directed, wrote and produced award winning films, ‘the ice rink’ and ‘out of place’. Tony currently works as a professional freelancer with credits that range from production coordinator to associate producer. Tony has been involved in over 14 productions within the last three years touring the czech republic, netherlands and the united kingdom in various capacities.Human condition he is the 2014 winner of the brett goldin award.