Matisse, Hodgins, Dylan, Self’s face, Burroughs’ cranky smile, overflowing ashtray, empty cans of everything, toilet role, notebooks, typewriter, screen, smell, motherfucking Ulysses, Infinite Jest…Time to bounce out of this overstocked mess, this lot can get a bit much. Geniuses and all, but at the end I’m still inside. Into the night with me, deep into it, 969 festival, Kafka, Miyambo, wine. These dead (and nearly dead) and definitely dead workaholics are getting me down, I need some cultivated flesh in motion.
Check for the keys, rummage through the everything drawer, it isn’t easy, why is there a cigarette butt in here? They’re everywhere, are they humping? Metamorphosis was a good read, not sure what the monologue I’m about see is about, but K scribbled with conviction, won’t be kak. I rise slowly, unevenly, like a man freshly tackled, prized keys in hand, bank card, access card for gate. I sigh at the half smoked pack peeking at me. Maybe I should leave them on my desk, buy another en route, I always forget to have enough cigarettes. Slow bureaucratic suicide. Finicky, fiddly, guns are so much better, why I bother with combustibles of such a low caliber when there are glocks in the world.
I grab the cigarettes. Slow-mo self emulation with a morning cough it is. Metamorphosis was about a young man turning into a bug, this one’s about an ape? Racist South Africa clears his throat, I reach for the door before the dog speaks.
Fast forward to 2055, my children watch me die. They don’t understand my obsession with race, it was another time I guess, but the dark side of nicotine addiction gives Christopher Jnr. nightmares.
Stairs now, I might see, I do, a neighbour, grease proof interaction commences in 3, 2, 1… Don’t say heita. Don’t say heita. Embarrassment averted, my people need to do a course.
Who are my people, note to self, find out where my people reside, call a meeting, maybe take a gun.
Where would I holster it? The back of the pants thing seems dangerous, little silver clip visible to the world, I can’t put it there. Kafka made the sublime, the other, the weird, seem so natural. The young man who turned into a bug seemed so plausible.
Guy who tried to rob me had a piece down the front of his pants, seemed weird, too cock blow off’ey for my liking.
The side holster seems cliched, death should always reach for originality, anything permanent in fact. Under the arm holster, like Dicaprio in that remake, thirteen year old’s shouldn’t have guns, but he did look older than 13. Miyambo is short like a 13 year old, when it comes to genius, size doesn’t matter.
Gate coming up, greet plastic copper at the door, security agent, buzzers and sign ins and calling the people with guns. He should have a gun, maybe he does. Shit, I wonder if he’s prepared for all the eventualities that could occur. Does he know CPR? Does he floss? Immaterial in a life or death situation, but dying with someone else’s bad breath in your mouth isn’t necessary. Inner city security guard, he smokes too. In a thousand years we’ll be able to bum bullets like cigarettes. A smile, a wave, he doesn’t suspect a thing, poor fucker… Miyambo is superlatively adaptive, screen or stage, big with the red curtain, calm with the celluloid. Master of his craft.
Final step onto Joubert Street coming up, the plunge, the juxtaposing border, binary switch, the click, bam. 6 million people, just like that, chest feels pressed on. Eyes on me, mine to floor first, sigh, then straight ahead. Size me up fucker, do it, you and your buddies, wait- he sells apples, I know that guy. Stay calm, smile, don’t smile. This white skin makes me stick out something terrible, I’d stick out less as a 6 foot roach. Is this a panic attack?
Theatre time, Miyambo, funny guy- theatre guy, actor guy, Wonderboy (in cinemas soon), Late Nite News, Bantu Hour (coming soon), The Secret Ballot… I get into an Editor’s Uber. I’ve never seen Miyambo do something serious.
Wits theater, heavy cement exterior, fascists sure know cement. Nevermind, ours now.
Miyambo, Miyambo, there’s a musicality in his name. Two glasses of wine please. Theater foyer looks important. Flirt, small talk, exhibit excitement, then show steely indifference.
-A spill over showcase, hard to crack I’ve heard.
Kafka’s Ape, simply named, brutal. Dactyl like, stings like a Bukowski uppercut.
Grandiose, be a part of the intellectual continuum, be a smarty pants. Cue haughty eyes, feel for flask, fucked and clever, nicely done bru, nice.
-Have you read much Kafka? I hear my arsehole squeek.
Pretension hails an Uber van.
INT. THEATRE- NIGHT
A chatty woman, MAUREEN (32), sails by. Eyeing the room for new conversations.
(To no one in particular)
Blah, blah, blah Kafka.
Her FRIEND climbs out of her ass covered in what looks like chocolate spread.
(Muffle muffle muffle) Kafka.
CLAUDIA (27), a wild eyed young woman, comes running up the isle, she unpins a hand grenade and throws it at Maureen.
I talk about wanting to finger a goat, or fucking an orange, some such triviality, time to level out, stick my upside down flag into this over tilled soil. Raw grotesque salvation. What would Lenny Bruce do?
-Then fuck out a window and be talked about like Jesus.
-Overkill, what kind of goat was that again?
We’re herded into the small amphitheater that is the downstairs bit. Cushions laid out, like those bonfire pits favoured in beachside resorts, watch mother nature take a hit for our warmth. Exchange the driftwood for psyches and the kindling for ideas and we have an apt metaphor. Joburg theater’s studio space versus this one? Same, but different, this one seems more demanding. Let’s see how it burns.
Not quite a fire, more a white hot solar flair, aimed straight at my guts. If I tell you I nearly cried would you think less of me? For not allowing the salty bulbs, well earned, well satisfied, brilliantly harvested emotions to enjoy their moment? Well, my tear ducts have unionised, man territory, you need to consult the proper structures to get in.
I wipe an undisclosed wet something off my cheek. Miyambo, the talented prick, he did it.
Kafka’s original bit of scribble wasn’t changed much, but I doubt the world has ever seen this version. It wasn’t a play as much as an onslaught, a one act riot of one. I want to feed an armed Miyambo cocaine and write the exclusive. Continents would fall.
Buck Mulligan spoke of Irish art being represented by a servant’s cracked looking class. He means identity, originality, Ireland’s crown shaped dominion. Are we like the Irish in the 20’s? Added to the need for progression, is authenticity, severing ties with the whip’s library, that slavery came with a reading list is unfortunate, but must now be dealt with. We don’t want reversion to some previous time, but a seat at the world’s table, as us. 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. An unfettered, to the point, business meeting for the soul. Bravo Phala O. Phala (adapted & directed by) and bravo Tony B. Miyambo (as Red Peter-The Ape), as a liker of things, yours was liked superlatively.
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