On 15 March, a play by Estonian musician and TV personality Mihkel Raud premiered in Freefall Theater in St Petersburg, Florida.
The play dealing with the controversial subject of reality television was the cover story of the weekend culture supplement of the local newspaper Tampa Bay Times.
The play opens with a reality television song contest, with one hopeful taking the three judges hostage to ensure a suitable outcome of his audition.
“American Monkey” is based on the play “Järgmine voor” (2012) that Raud used to channel his five years of experience as the “mean” judge on the Estonian version of “American Idol”, “Eesti otsib superstaari."
According to artistic director of Freefall Theater and director of the play Eric Davis, he and playwright Natalie Symons adapted the script to delve deeper into the relationships between the characters and pose challenging questions - most importantly, the parallels between reality television and Roman gladiator events.
In remarks to the Estonian media, Raud called the coverage the “most important/surreal” moment of his professional life.
Raud told kultuur.err.ee on Monday that the play received standing ovations on both the preview as well as the opening night.
Although reality television is more relevant in the US than Estonia, Raud believes that the play itself has universal themes and that the director’s vision is the defining factor.
Raud also said several theaters in Europe have expressed an interest in his play.
He also said he is already working on ideas for a new play, which will be written in Estonian.
Photos from the performance can be viewed here.