Greenberger’s 1001 Real Apes combines the stories and observations of nursing home residents into a moving and often humorous monologue on aging

Since 1979, when David Greenberger first encountered the residents of Boston’s Duplex Nursing Home (where he was the Activities Director), he has been illustrating the axiom, “when you get older everything will be different,” in a variety of ways. Posing evocative questions such as “Which do you prefer, coffee or meat?” and “How close can you get to a penguin?” to the nursing home residents, Greenberger recorded their free-ranging responses and began publishing them in a ‘zine entitled, The Duplex Planet. Eventually the ‘zine spawned a book of the same name, a Duplex Planet comic series (Fantagraphics), a card set (Kitchen Sink), a CD (East Side Digital), video (Gravita International) and a theatrical work entitled 1001 Real Apes.

As part of it’s 1997/98 performance series, the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA) presents David Greenberger/Duplex Planet’s performance of 1001 Real Apes, April 24, 25 & 26 at 8 p.m. at the Clinton Street Theater. Tickets are $14 general admission ($12 for PICA members) and can be purchased in advance from PICA or at the door one hour prior to each performance.

1001 Real Apes combines Greenberger’s Duplex Planet monologues with live musical accompaniment and soundscapes by the musical group, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic. Merging fact with fiction, music and text, Greenberger provides intimately moving and often profound glimpses into the process of aging, by bringing to life the stories and observations of individuals from whose lives they have sprung. The stories range from the oddly humorous to the poignant and reveal a unique insight into the various faces of aging.

Booksigning and Workshop

In addition to the performances, David Greenberger will be signing copes of his ‘zines, books and CDs at a booksigning Thursday, April 23 at 6 p.m. at Reading Frenzy (921 SW Oak). This event is free and open to the public.

Greenberger will also conduct a ‘zine Workshop, Saturday, April 25th at 10 a.m. at Umbra Penumbra (314 SW 9th). The workshop will feature tips on how to publish your own ‘zine plus other insider information. The workshop fee is $10 ($8 with a ticket to the performance). To register, please call PICA at 242-1419.

For further information on any of these events, please call PICA at 503/242-1419.



Duplex Planet Stories
told by
David Greenberger
with music
performed by
Birdsongs of the Mesozoic

Old people. You may already be one; if not, you hopefully one day will be. Pete Townsend’s line, “Hope I die before I get old,” can only come from the limited perspective of youthful exuberance and naivete. Pete himself is now surely singing, “Hope I get old before I die.”

I first met the residents of the Duplex Nursing Home in Boston in 1979, and have been exploring avenues to communicate my sense of them and others to an audience ever since. In our culture, outside of seeing it occur in family members, we’re given scant opportunity to witness the process of aging until we’re already in the midst of it ourselves. And as family members age and die it points back to that thorny issue of our own mortality. We learn by example; all of the important decisions we make which determine how we live our lives are made having seen others wrestle with the same choices. I’ve wanted examples of aging for myself, and I have made it my job to find ways in which to communicate those examples to others. I haven’t been asking for answers to the meaning of life, because the answers lie in the way people live their lives in the very moment I’m with them; what amuses or upsets them, what moves or enrages them, what tires and wakes them.

It has been my aim to offer a range of characters who are already old. This allows one to get to know them as they are now, without constantly celebrating or mourning who they were before. Furthermore, it has been my intention to show as broad a range of people as possible. Since the elderly are already thought of by what they have in common — that they’re all old — I try to recast them as individuals. The are individuals for whom the fact of their age, and the decline that comes with it, doesn’t alter the larger reality of waking up anew everyday as the same unique person. They may be moving through the world around them with diminished capacities, but nonetheless, they remain an utterly unique conglomeration of passions, ticks, foibles, and prejudices.

- David Greenberger

Music by Birdsongs of the Mesozoic:

Michael Bierylo
guitar, percussion

Ken Field
saxophones, flutes, percussion

Erik Lindgren
piano, Theremin. percussion

Rick Scott
synthesizer. percussion

To allow one to follow recurring voices in the monologues, here follows a
list of the stories in the performance and their source:

Gilligan’s Island (Fergie)
Cowboy Story (Larry Green)
The Titanic (Henry Turner)
The Phantom of Crestwood (Bill Niemi)
Minerals & Moon (Arthur Wallace)
Freaky Women in Harvard Square (Arthur Wallace)
Quincy Sore Throat (Arthur Wallace)
Six Bits of Advice (Viljo Lehto)
36 Meatballs (John Catrambone)
Gravity (Ken Eglin)
Massachusetts – A Great Shoe State (Fergie)
Theodore Newton (Bill Niemi)
Firecrackers (Fergie)
Dinosaurs (Fergie)
Snakes (Fergie)
Guitars (Fergie, Abe Surgecoff)
New York City (Daphne Matthews)
Swimming (Bill Niemi)
Chicago (Walter McGeorge)
No Firebugs and a Prayer (Herbie Caldwell)
Theo and the Television (Dorothea Brownell)
I Ain’t Coe (Arthur Wallace)
Hiding in the Trees (Fergie)
Bruno (Daphne Matthews)
How Records are Made (Abe Surgecoff)
Guitars (Ken Eglin, Larry Green)
Broken Hearts (Herbie Caldwell, Walter McGeorge)
Time Marches On (Charles Scott)
Ant Story (Ann Stark)
On Liking Beer and Teaching Children (Fergie)
They Made a Movie of This (Abe Surgecoff)

For info on Birdsong of the Mesozoic contact Ken Field, (617)491-1917, [email protected] online info at

For info on The Duplex Planet contact David Greenberger (518)692-7410, [email protected]

For a mail order catalog of Duplex Planet books, CDs, comics and magazines, send an SASE to The Duplex Planet, P.O.Box 1230, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866, or send a card or email to be notified of future performances.