I recently watched a video by Nina Conti (She discovered ventriloquism through her association with Ken Campbell ) called “Make Me Happy: A Monkey’s Search for Happiness” which I found really powerful. The video is about Nina and Monkey (her ventriloquism monkey, who tends to ignore social convention and say things that might be considered rude or ill considered) and their search for enlightenment through various new age therapies. It is funny for the most part with a bit of gentle mocking by monkey mostly of some of the more outre of the therapies and also a lot of reflection by Nina on why she feels uncomfortable at naked yoga etc.
Where I felt the piece had most relevance for what I want to create was when she went on this week long rebirth workshop and half way through the leaders stole monkey from her and hid him from her for the last two days of the workshop. It was both hilarious and very painful to watch as we saw the group leaders seriously discussing how having monkey was distracting her and distancing her from connecting from the experience and so to remove him would help her participate. At all times monkey was taken seriously and not dismissed or described as a puppet. Nina’s anger and distress at monkey’s disappearance was tangible and she expressed a lot of anger towards the group leader. I would like my piece to provoke strong emotions through unexpected routes. In this case vegetables rather than a soft toy monkey! Ridiculousness and serious next to each other with no clear boundary.
The monkey stealing sequence begins about thirty five minutes in and is well worth a watch if you don’t fancy or have time for the whole shebang.