The fine line between human and animal is just one of the ideas explored in Kafka’s Ape, a solo performance by South African ensemble Yililiza, that will make its Australian debut at Fringe World this January.
In his Fringe Session Q&A, Bonani Tony Miyambo – solo performer and producer for Kafka’s Ape – tells Seesaw about the work, its relationship to Kafka and its journey to our shores.
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Seesaw: Talk us through your career path to date.
Bonani Tony Miyambo: I am BA dramatic arts graduate from Wits University in South Africa and I think of myself as a creative cultural resource; one that tells stories across formats, building my career as a producer, actor and director in the film, television and theatre industry. Kafka’s Ape, in many ways, is the project that put me on the map and I have been performing and touring this highly acclaimed play for eight years.
S: What made you decide to give Fringe World a whirl?
BTM: It’s a new festival, in a new country with a new audience. This opportunity is what we live for, our goal has always been to take our quality theatre production to the world and to perform it for people from all walks of life. We were invited by the amazing Harriet Roberts from The Blue Room Theatre. She is a champion of fringe theatre and independent quality work from around the world. Salute Harriet, we see you!
S: Tell us about the work you are bringing to Fringe World, Kafka’s Ape
BTM: Kafka’s Ape is an award-winning solo production that is based on Franz Kafka’s acclaimed short story “A report to the Academy”. It is a story about an ape – Red Peter – who no longer identifies as an ape but rather as a human being. The ape attempts to narrate its evolution and the complexities associated with its journey from the captured animal to the assimilated human-like performer.
S: What differentiates Kafka’s Ape from the 700 or so other shows on offer at Fringe World?
BTM: Kafka’s Ape has performed all over the world from Broadway in New York to the Genocide memorial in Rwanda. If I had to pick the one reason why you would want to come and see the performance, it would be because of the nuanced and moving performance that I’m able to deliver. I also think the message within the production has never been more relevant.
S: How did you come to be involved in Kafka’s Ape?
BTM: I was invited to a process by the director/adapter Phala O Phala who wanted to explore the original text, Kafka’s “A report to an Academy”, towards the completion of his masters degree. The work then began to unravel layers of meaning and resonances that interrogate some of the key socio-political issues that continue to face South Africa and the world at large.
S: How do you prepare for performing this solo work?
BTM: I have a ritual before the doors open that allows me to connect with the spirit of the animal, to prepare the body and the voice for the transformation and allow the character to become. It’s a meditation, a prayer, a call to my ancestors to hold space for me whilst I tell the story of Red Peter without judgement or fear… only embodied presence.
S: What are you looking forward to seeing/doing at Fringe World 2020?
BTM: I want to do as the locals do – the food, the drinks, the people and the sights. I am also looking forward to watching all the quality shows that Fringe World has to offer. Go Fringe!
S: What is your favourite part of the playground?
BTM: Haha, sorry Seesaw but I have to go with the swings!
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