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Monkey Business

Go ape with Philip Franks and Rosalie Craig! A programme to launch you on a 'flung festoon half-way up to the jealous moon' with mischievous music to match.

It begins in mischief and ends in confusion. Monkeys are the lords of misrule. They're as entertaining as they are mischievous. In their needs and affections they can also seem almost human. Are we monkeys or are they men? In Monkey Business the actors Rosalie Craig and Philip Franks will be leaping about between the probable and the improbable. Searching for airborne fun rather than earthbound enlightenment. They'll be swinging from the cosmology of 16th-century China to the simian aspirations of The Jungle Book and will conjure mayhem from Satie, Beethoven, Britten and Ligeti to hasten them on the way. As Kipling put it - "here we go in a flung festoon, half-way up to the jealous moon."

Producer: Zahid Warley

1 hour, 14 minutes

Last on

Sun 4 Nov 2018 17:30

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • Wu Cheng'en translated by Arthur Waley

    Birth of monkey from Monkey read by Philip Franks

  • 00:02

    Ludwig van Beethoven

    Rondo a capriccio in G major, Op.129 - “Rage over a lost penny”

    Performer: Artur Schnabel (piano).
    • NAXOS 8110765.
    • Tr41.
  • Rudyard Kipling

    Road Song of the Bandar-log read by Philip Franks

  • 00:08

    Erik Satie

    Sonnerie pour réveiller le bon gros Roi des Singes (Lequel ne dort toujours que d'un œil), fanfare pour deux trompettes

    • Erato 9029598879.
    • CD3 Tr1.
  • George Schaller

    First sighting of the gorilla from The Year of the Gorilla read by Philip Franks

  • 00:12

    Georges Brassens

    Le Gorille

    Performer: Georges Brassens.
    • Philips 586343 2.
    • Tr3.
  • Carol Ann Duffy

    Queen Kong read by Rosalie Craig

  • 00:20

    Benjamin Britten

    Messalina from Our Hunting Fathers

    Performer: Ian Bostridge.
    • EMI CDC 556342.
    • Tr13.
  • Katherine Philips

    A Married State read by Rosalie Gray

  • 00:29

    Dudley Moore

    Little Miss Britten

    Performer: Dudley Moore.
    • EMI CDEMC 3727.
    • Tr7.
  • John Collier

    Emily visits the British Museum from His Monkey Wife read by Rosalie Craig

  • 00:33

    György Ligeti

    Gepopo’s first aria from Le Grand Macabre

    Performer: ORF Symphonie Orchester and ORF Chor, Elgar Howarth (conductor).
    • WERGO WER 61702.
    • CD2 Tr1.
  • Walter De La Mare

    Language lessons for the monkeys from The Three Royal Monkeys read by Philip Franks

  • 00:38

    Charles Mingus

    Pithecanthropus Erectus

    Performer: Charles Mingus.
    • Atlantic 7814562.
    • Tr1.
  • John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester

    Man and Monkey read by Rosalie Craig

  • 00:50

    Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman

    I wan'na be like you (The Monkey Song) from Opening Medley

    Performer: Los Lobos.
    • A&M CDA 3918.
    • Tr1.
  • Simon Gray

    The Family Tree from The Year of the Jouncer read by Philip Franks

  • 00:56

    Béla Bartók

    Intermezzo from Concerto for Orchestra (Sz 116)

    Performer: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle (conductor).
    • EMI CDC 5550942.
    • Tr12.
  • James Lever

    Tarzan and Cheeta visit Constance Bennet from Me, Cheeta, read by Philip Franks

  • 01:02

    Charles Ives

    The Unanswered Question

    Performer: Glenn Fischthal (trumpet), San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Michael Tilson Thomas (conductor).
    • RCA 09026637032.
    • Tr17.
  • Franz Kafka

    From Report for an Academy read by Rosalie Craig

  • 01:10

    Chuck Berry

    Too Much Monkey Business

    Performer: Chuck Berry.
    • CD CHESS 21.
    • Tr5.

Producer's Notes: Monkey Business

There’s something uncanny about monkeys. Most of us can see the ape in ourselves if we’re being honest even if it is like looking into a fairground mirror.  We recognise our features but at the same time we’re too long, too short and above all too funny.  Monkeys mean mischief.  The problem, I suppose, is that we can’t quite decide whether we are naked apes or they are hairy humans. 

This evening’s Words and Music is all about playing with the species divide and going ape.  Our lords of misrule and monkeys-in-chief are the actors, Rosalie Craig and Philip Franks.  They leap from Tarzan and Cheeta in Hollywood to the Caroline poet, Katherine Philips and her animadversions on marriage.  On the way they stop to pluck a lyric from Kipling, muse with Simon Gray on his family tree and wonder with John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester whether it is wiser to be a monkey or a man.  They also borrow – or should that be steal, from Kafka for his simian observations in the short story, Report for an Academy and from Carol Ann Duffy who explores the wilder shores of love in her poem, Queen Kong.

The music matches these twirls and tumbles.  Serious and mock serious it follows the monkey gospel of mimicry and subversion.  Beethoven parodies himself; Dudley Moore parodies Benjamin Britten; and Charlie Mingus celebrates “the missing link” in his composition Pithecanthropus Erectus.  There’s a lament for a pet monkey, and a fanfare for a royal monkey as well as humans singing like monkeys and monkeys singing like humans… you’ll have to listen and find out for yourself… that’s safer at any rate than just sitting there waiting for your tail to be pulled!

Producer: Zahid Warley

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