25 April 2014

The Ape Play

The Ape Play has been an ongoing project for nearly a decade. I originally created it for Steve Venright's Dream Bazaar at the Cameron House, in Toronto, on December 8, 2004. I created this stupid little "puppet show" consisting of me brandishing stuffed toy apes while sitting with a badly made cardboard house on my knees. The house had a door and on the door was the number "179" — for my childhood home of 179 Pannahill Road in Toronto's Bathurst Manor area.

I believe another performance took place at Toronto's Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in 2005, as part of RM Vaughan's 40 Tiny Queer Performance. Each performer was given one minute to do their thing.

The Ape Play went over pretty well. By 2008, it had expanded to an impressive two minutes. That meant I had to tape two minutes' worth of monologue to the roof of the house on my knees, because I can't memorize things. I performed this version in Ottawa and Calgary. Perhaps elsewhere. In Calgary, I accidentally left the Ape House in the bar where the performance took place, and all the little stuffed toy apes along with it. I had to build a new Ape House. It was identical to the original Ape House.

For the Meet the Presses All-Star Non-Stop Indie Lit Variety Show, held in spring 2013 at the Supermarket, I created a six-minute version of The Ape Play. Imagine that. I believe there is a video of that performance, but I've never seen it.

I soon began working on what I thought at first would be a 30-minute version, which I hoped to cram into Summerworks or some similar festival, but it turned out to be the beginning of a novel, which is still in progress.

When Ottawa director Fraser MacKinnon wrote me a few months ago, asking to adapt two of my pieces from Buying Cigarettes for the Dog for his stage anthology show Sans Sense, one of those pieces was The Ape Play. I told him it wouldn't be possible, though I didn't tell him why. But I felt proprietary about that piece, and it had become six times longer since the version he was looking at, and it was gradually morphing into a novel. Fraser chose two other stories from the book to adapt.

Earlier this week, I gave a reading at Lillian Necakov's Boneshaker Reading Series, at the St. Clair/Silverthorn branch of the Toronto Public Library. The readings take place in a tiny room, a room that happens also to house a bunch of puppetry equipments. The series usually attracts a modest audience of about a dozen to twenty people. I thought it would be a nice, intimate setting for the six-minute version of The Ape Play.

Here, then, is that performance:

Over and out.


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