July 13, 2012
Knoxville chimp completes two Shakespeare plays
A three-year-old Knoxville chimpanzee successfully reproduced two works by William Shakespeare Wednesday, just in time for the Tennessee Stage Company's outdoor productions of the two plays.
George, a primate resident of the Knoxville Zoo, has been working with scientists to help prove the infinite monkey theorem since he was born in 2008. He was the first chimp born at the zoo in 20 years and the first to complete a major theatrical work.
"The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey typing random keys on a keyboard for an infinite amount of time will eventually type an actual text," said University of Tennessee statistics professor Julie Gillin. "Who knew George would get it so quickly? He even changed all the letter f's to s's."
George completed "Julius Caesar" and "As You Like It" Wednesday afternoon. The Tennessee Stage Company used the version of "As You Like It" Thursday night in their opening production of Shakespeare on the Square. It is the 10th season the theatrical troupe has performed for audiences on Market Square.
"This is a big step forward," said Justin Stooksbury, who will play a soldier in tonight's production of "Julius Ceasar." "Obviously George is a chimp, not a monkey, and he gets kind of pissed when you mix those up, so make sure you get that right. But we were thrilled he was able to type 'Julius Ceasar' for us. And it took him less than four years. That's way less time than infinity."
George's trainers have cautioned that there is a slight possibility that Knoxville may have a
"Rise of the Planet of the Apes" situation on its hands.
"If George is going to enslave the human race, remember that he loves watermelon," said Knoxville Zoo director Robert Arning. "That should buy you his favor, at least temporarily."
However Arning says that George will continue to produce plays.
"He's actually finishing up a Samuel Beckett play right now," said Arning. "I've read the first few pages and he's improved it remarkably. Not that that would be hard. You could just hold down the 't' key for a couple of hours and do that."
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