Gay Penguins! On Ice!

A Film by Werner Herzog

Ten Minutes, Exerpt Below

Gay Penguins! On Ice! A Film by Werner Herzog had a staged reading at Undiscovered Countries Festival on April 22nd, 2013. It was directed by Colleen Slats Toole, and performed by Caroline Kitteredge Faustine, Matt Rossiter and Taylor Adamson. 

                                                                        Prologue.

                                    Daytime, we assume 

                                                                        It is very cold.

                                                                        A Penguin speaks to us.

 

GUY

My love is gone.

I do not know where they took him from me.

I do not know why they took him from me.

I cannot go on.

                                                                       

He turns around and walks into the tundra.

Blackout. In the darkness, we hear.

 

WERNER HERZOG

Zookeepers say that Guy and Pierre, two male African penguins, are inseparable. The two gay penguins are also starting to display signs of mating rituals. Guy, 13, and Pierre, 10, are part of the popular African penguin exhibit which opened in May. They were both bred in the hell of captivity in Ohio. Zookeepers refer to their unique relationship as “pair bonding.” I asked Joe Torzsok, chair of the Toronto zoo board, if the penguins could be considered gay lovers. Torzok says

HERZOG does a bad impression of the zookeeper

It’s a complicated issue, but they seem to be in a loving relationship of some sort.

 

Lights up. There are two massive eggs on stage, one cracked open and one intact.

Sitting on top of the cracked egg is GUY. He speaks to us.

 

GUY

I don’t know when it first was that I knew. Knew that I loved him. It could have been the first time our eyes met during our first seasonal migration to the fishing place, some unexpected warmth in his brown eyes giving me strength in that long journey that I had never made before. It could have been the first time I saw him swim, or slide on his belly along the ice, that downy belly that I had wanted to rest my head against so much and for so long that it made me…shake, sometimes. It could have been the first time our feathers brushed against each other, when we were very young, being groomed by our mothers. I don’t know. All I know is that there was a moment of white-hot flash, and a lingering pain, very sharp at first, under my left wing. Close to my ribcage. And then after that, everything made sense.

 

The egg next to GUY’S bursts open

 

PIERRE

BONNN-JOUR!!!

PIERRE hatches, triumphant, with a loud cry.

He stretches and shakes himself.

 

PIERRE

Bon jour, bon jour mes amies, je me’appele Pierre et la vie ce bon, ce belle, ce bon!

 

GUY

You didn’t think French penguins existed? Neither did I. Neither did any of us. He was like nothing I’d ever seen before.

PIERRE struts in front of his shell while GUY watches, fascinated.

Something in GUY’S body has overwritten his shyness and he stands up

in irresistible magnetic pull to this mysterious creature.

Before he knows what he is doing he is standing behind the preening PIERRE.

His wing reaches out and tenderly brushes away a loose piece

of eggshell from the top of PIERRE’S head. PIERRE spins around at GUY’S touch.

The two stare each other down. After a moment of terror,

GUY meekly holds out the bit of eggshell.

 

GUY

This is yours?

PIERRE regards the shell for a moment, then takes it from GUY.

Their flippers touch.

 

PIERRE

Merci.

After a moment’s deliberation, casually

Mon cheri.

Something shifts. 

 

HERZOG

“When you put things in captivity, odd things happen,” Kevin McGowan of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in Ithaca, N.Y., told ABCNews.com.

 

GUY

I don’t really understand it…

 

PIERRE

Parlez-vous e moi?

 

HERZOG

“The way penguins work is they do get paired for a long time.

 

GUY

But I love you?

 

PIERRE

Je ne comprende pas, mais je t’aime?

 

HERZOG

Basically, the only other penguin they care about is their mate, so it’s important for them to find somebody who’s compatible, and if you don’t have a normal upbringing then it’s difficult to say how ‘normal’ they can be.”

 

GUY

It’s the purest love I’ve ever known. I just want to be with you always.

 

PIERRE

Maybe we can be penguins together. And I will be a real penguin, loved by you.

 

HERZOG

But of course, how can you say what is normal in penguins.

 

GUY

Swim with me?

 

                                                                        Pierre nods. They hold fins.

 

HERZOG

Guy and Pierre, who were both raised in captivity, pair together every night, “bray” at one another, groom each other, and never seem to tire of standing alongside each other, the Toronto Star reported. It is clear that they have found in each other some solace from the harsh outside world.

 

GUY AND PIERRE perform a pair-bonding ballet to a Debussy song.

Not Clare de Lune. WERNER HERZOG narrates.

 

WERNER HERZOG

Fun facts about penguins that we may be unaware of

Penguins are birds.

Penguins are birds.

They swim.

They eat fish.

They live on ice.

Pairs mate for life

They live about 15 to 20 years

Some penguins live in Antarctica, off the coast of South America, South Africa, Galapagos, Southern Australia, and New Zealand. There are no penguins in France.

Most penguins can swim at a rate of about 25 kilometers per hour. 

Both males and females incubate eggs

The population has dropped from millions to less than 60,000 since the 1800s.

 

GUY

When I was with Pierre it was like the rest of the zoo didn’t matter. The bars and the people looking at me, and the fake ice that was never quite cold enough and the way I could never really sleep at night and the just general pointless depressing malaise of the place, this imitation of life where we never saw the sea. The fact that I had never known anything but captivity but I still knew somehow that it was captivity. Somehow none of that mattered. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever known.

 

PIERRE

Mais il ne pouvait pas durer.

(Translation: But it was never meant to last.)

 

HERZOG

                                                                                    reading from a newspaper

In the 1990s, an estimated 225,000 African penguins lived in the wild. Nowadays the number is closer to 60,000 — and dropping fast. The cause, biologists suspect, is changing ocean currents that are driving food sources further and further away from penguin breeding grounds on the African coast. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has estimated that wild stocks of African penguins could be completely wiped out before the end of the century.

 

GUY

I didn’t know that I was endangering my species! I was just in love!

 

PIERRE

Je t’ ai aime, trop.

(Translation: I loved you, too.)

 

HERZOG

As a result, the sexual partners of almost all captive African penguins are carefully mapped out by researchers at Chicago’s Population Management Center. There, penguins are paired, split up and even moved to different zoos purely on the basis of maximizing genetic diversity. Unfortunately Guy and Pierre are among those star-crossed penguin lovers.

 

PIERRE

Je vieux juste etre aime.

(Translation: I just want to be loved.)

 

GUY

They split us up and put us with female penguins. In hopes that we would forget about each other and mate. Like real penguins.

 

PIERRE

Je vieux juste etre un pingouin.

(Translation: I just want to be a penguin.)

 

GUY

Put me in a cage with a penguin named Deborah. She was okay, but she wasn’t Pierre.

 

PIERRE

Je vieux juste etre aime. Je veux juste etre un pingouin, pas une idée. Je veux juste etre aimé.

(Translation: I just want to be loved. I just want to be a penguin, not an idea. I want to be loved.)

 

GUY

They gave my beautiful Pierre to a penguin from Florida, this gorgeous blonde named Cindy.

PIERRE

JE T’AIME.

(Trans: I LOVE YOU.)

 

GUY

He didn’t seem to mind.

 

PIERRE

Idiot.

(Idiot.)

 

GUY

They shacked up in the same penguin house as me and the unfortunate Deborah, and within months they had an egg. How nice for them.

PIERRE

IDIOT.

Je t’ ai aime.

(Idiot. I loved you.)

 

HERZOG

                                                                                    from newspaper

It looks like Guy and Pierre, the Toronto Zoo’s “gay” penguins that captured hearts all over the world, may have moved on to new female mates.

The formerly inseparable pair are apparently warming up to their new female partners, the zoo said in a statement today,

 

GUY

Or at least one of us is warming up.

 

PIERRE

Je souhaite que tu parliez francais.

(I wish you spoke French)

The penguins sit across from each other in their penguin house and glare at each other.

PIERRE feigns disinterest, cares for his egg

GUY tries several tactics to get PIERRE to pay attention to him.

 

PIERRE

Je souhaite que tu parliez francias.  

 

PIERRE

PORQUOI AVEZ-TU A PARLER ANGLAIS TOUT LE TEMPS? TU ME MANQUES. JE T’AIME, IMBECILE. JE FAIS CE QUE JE DOIS FAIRE. NOUS SOMMES PINGOUINS, NOUS POUVONS AMER, PORQUOI NE PAS TU ME COMPRENDS?

JE NE SUIS PAS D’ACCORD.

JE NE SUIS PAS D’ACCORD.

JE NE SUIS PAS D’ACCORD.

JE T’AIME.

JE T’AIME. JE T’AIME.

(WHY DO YOU HAVE TO SPEAK ENGLISH ALL THE TIME? I MISS YOU. I LOVE YOU, YOU IMBECILE. WE ARE PENGUINS, WE CAN LOVE, WHY CAN’T YOU UNDERSTAND ME? I AM NOT OKAY. I LOVE YOU )

PIERRE

JE NE COMPRENDS PAS CE QUE TU DIS.

(I don’t understand what you’re saying)

GUY

I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU’RE SAYING TO ME AND I FIND YOUR FAMILY DISGUSTING. I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’RE OKAY RIGHT NOW, AND I AM NOT OKAY, I AM HEARTBROKEN, AND I AM NOT OKAY WITH YOU BEING OKAY.

I AM NOT OKAY.

I AM NOT OKAY.

I AM NOT OKAY.

I LOVE YOU.

I LOVE YOU. I LOVE YOU.

 

They pause and catch their breath for a second.

GUY

I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU’RE SAYING.

Totally spent.

HERZOG

                                                                                                From blog.

Guy and Pierre fighting each other?

We know a lot of passionate relationships can end badly — but this fast? Guys, say it ain't so!

The loveable same-sex pair of endangered African penguins at the Toronto Zoo, the ones with the international profile and the high-octane genes, have been separated from each other by their handlers and paired up with females as part of a species survival program.

Easy come, easy go, apparently.

Scientists say that when a female shows up, that often spells the end for same-sex male bonds in penguins and other animals. And vice versa for same-sex female pairings.

But fans worldwide who have been riveted by Guy and Pierre's story will be saddened to hear the two recently got into a fight as they sat across from one another in their respective nests. It was mostly loud bawling, but there could have been serious injuries if not for a mesh between the nests.

“It's a common male trait. They set territory around a nest,'' Tom Mason, curator of birds and invertebrates at the zoo, told reporters at a Monday news conference held to provide an update on Guy and Pierre and the mating program.

 

GUY

“Common male traits.”

 

PIERRE

Stupide.

 

GUY

When I was left by Pierre it was like the rest of the zoo didn’t matter.

 

PIERRE

JE N’AI PAS TE QUITTES PAS, CONNARD!

(I didn’t leave you, dumbass!)

 

GUY

The bars holding me that would never be his wings, the people looking at me when he looked away, and the fake ice that only reflects the fake cold that is my plastic heart…

 

PIERRE

BORDEL LE MERDE!

(FOR FUCK’S SAKE!)

 

GUY

and the way I will never sleep at night with him not near me and the just general pointless depressing malaise of the place, this imitation of life where we never saw the sea and we never saw each other and we never saw love .

 

PIERRE

Ce que tu fais?

 

GUY

The fact that I have never known anything but captivity but I still know somehow that it was captivity. Somehow none of that matters. It all fades away,

 

PIERRE

S’il vous plait ne faites pas cela.

 

GUY

far far away in the distance, leaving me in an expanse of white loneliness, the Artic, the tundra. It is the most beautiful thing I had ever known.

 

By this time it has indeed all faded away, leaving GUY alone on a sheet of ice

 

GUY

My love is gone.

I do not know where they took him from me.

I do not know why they took him from me.

I cannot go on.

                                                                                    He turns and walks into the tundra.

 

We play the youtube video of the penguin derangement sequence from

Werner Herzog’s Encounters at the End of the World.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gsq9Oc7RlT4

Herzog says his lines. GUY walks.

 

HERZOG

Dr. Ainley, is there such thing as insanity among penguins?

 

VIDEO

I try to avoid the definition of insanity or derangement.

 

HERZOG

I don’t mean that a penguin might believe he or she is Lenin or Napoleon Bonaparte, but could they just go crazy because they’ve had enough of their colony?

 

VIDEO

Well, I’ve never seen a penguin bashing its head against a rock. They do get disoriented. They end up in places they shouldn’t be, a long way from the ocean.

HERZOG

These penguins are all heading to the open water to the right.

But one of them caught our eye,

the one in the center.

He would neither go towards the feeding grounds at the edge of the ice,

nor return to the colony.

Shortly afterwards, we saw him heading straight towards the mountains,

some 70 kilometers away.

Dr. Ainley explained

that even if he caught him

and brought him back to the colony,

he would immediately head right back

for the mountains.

But why?

One of these disoriented,

or deranged, penguins

showed up at the New Harbor diving camp

already some 80 kilometers away

from where it should be.

The rules for the humans

are do not disturb or hold up the penguin

Stand still and let him go on his way.

And here, he’s heading of into the interior

of the vast continent.

 

With 5,000 kilometers ahead of him,

he’s heading towards certain death.

 

GUY walks and walks. The sunlight on the ice blinds us.

 

END

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