Nov. 6, 2009
New Play Apes Human Life, Chimp Politics
A conniving kingmaker and his young protégé conspire to overthrow a popular king. Their plot fails, so they murder him instead. The kingmaker then installs his protégé as ruler. The young king does not properly reward his mentor, however, so the kingmaker selects a new protégé. Together, they torment the young king to the point of madness. He throws himself into the palace moat and drowns.
The brutal power struggle reads like a Shakespearean tragedy, but it actually happened on an island of captive chimpanzees at a Holland zoo during the late 1970s. Emory primatologist Frans de Waal documented the events in his best-selling book "Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex Among Apes."
And now, in a strange case of art aping life, the true story has been turned into "Hominid," a fictional play with human actors taking the names and roles of the chimpanzee characters.
Continue reading about Hominid at eScienceCommons.