events archive

Great Apes: are human beings overrated?

5:30pm, Saturday 7 April 2018, Arcola Theatre, 24 Ashwin Street, Dalston, London, E8 3DL

Patrick Marmion’s adaptation for the theatre of Will Self’s satirical novel, Great Apes, raises – hilariously and darkly – the major question of what it means to be human. How far should we separate ourselves from the animal world? Not only are we symbiotically dependent on other animals, we are also animals ourselves. It is just over 50 years since the publication of Desmond Morris’s The Naked Ape, which emphasised the evolutionary closeness between apes and humans.

What makes us different? Does self-knowledge, self-awareness, the power of speech and our sexuality set us apart so significantly that we can ignore our animal origins? Has human culture created an unbridgeable gulf between humans and their nearest species relatives, the chimpanzees? Or are there aspects of human culture that reveal our animalistic tendencies and should make us wary of species arrogance?

The event brings together panellists from a range of fields to discuss and debate these ideas.


Timandra Harkness
journalist, writer and broadcaster; presenter, BBC Radio 4’s FutureProofing; author, Big Data: does size matter?

Mark Rappolt
editor-in-chief, Art Review and Art Review Asia

Will Self
writer and author

Additional panellists to be confirmed.

Wendy Earle
impact development officer, Birkbeck, University of London; convenor, Academy of Ideas Arts & Society Forum