Babi, the devourer of souls, is a baboon-headed god, exhibiting all the dominant and aggressive characteristics of the male baboon. In other words, he’s your average super-macho bully. Primarily worshipped in Upper Egypt during the Early dynastic period, Babi was a punisher and executioner in the underworld who was particularly fond of yummy entrails. He was the god that you prayed to for “male enhancement” in the afterlife, and his penis was alternately said to be able to open the doors of heaven or to be the mast of the raft that would take you to the islands where the souls who survived judgement resided. His hey day was during the reign of the first kings of Egypt, who battled fiercely for dominance and power. His myth was eventually replaced by Thoth and Ammit. He is both a god of the penis and a god who is a penis.
Lori Chapman writes, “I was initially drawn to Babi because he looks like a baboon, and I love primates. Watching nature specials about any or all primates is one of my favorite pastimes, and Primatology was my favorite section of my Physical Anthropology class in college. However, shortly after volunteering to write about Babi, I realized that he is more of a casual observer’s anthropomorphized version of a baboon, filtered through the culture of the times, than an actual baboon. Worshipped primarily out of fear, or veneration of his alpha male attributes, he bears little resemblance to baboons, other than the fact that he is at the top of a patriarchal society. But even in this, he is more violent and nasty than baboons that tend to rely more on shows of strength and power, and some herding behavior towards the females, than bloodthirsty Babi. His character was actually more inspired by our current president, and the Jersey Shore guys than any actual animal. However, apart from an insulting comparison which they will probably never know about or care about, no baboons were harmed in the making of this play.”
BABI by Lori Chapman
Directed by Nicole Menez
Staged Reading on October 6, 2017 at the EXIT Theatre
Lori Chapman studied Creative Writing at San Francisco State University, and worked as a professional stand-up comic from the end of the Clinton administration to the beginning of the Obama administration, which is an easier way to clarify the comedy culture than just rattling off the dates. She is currently working on writing the great American sci-fi novel.