Monkeyman Productions will be on hiatus for all of 2016.

Monkeyman – Hiatus for 2016

It is with regret that we announce that Monkeyman Productions will be taking a hiatus for the entirety of 2016. This will include the cancellation of our proposed spring production, Return of Simian Showcase.

After suffering a series of setbacks through the year, we find ourselves struggling to regroup. Losing The Beast from Planet X was a huge emotional and creative blow to the entire company, and has left us in a tenuous financial situation as well. We need some time to find our way from here.

We want to extend our gratitude to all the talented, wonderful people who have put their hearts into the work we’ve done, and to you who have come out to see that work and share in the experience. We’ll see you all in 2017.

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Announcement Regarding our Fall Schedule

Monkeyman Productions regrets to announce that our forthcoming production of The Beast from Planet X will not take place as scheduled. All tickets sold to date will be fully refunded.

Unfortunately, one of our actors has left the show for personal reasons. Due to the complexity of the particular role, as well as the remaining rehearsal schedule, we’ve determined that there is not enough time to find a suitable replacement. Our commitment is always to providing theatre of the highest possible quality, both out of respect for our cast and crew, and for you as our audience. We hope to be able to bring you this production as it was intended in the future.

However, please keep our scheduled dates in your calendar! We are putting together plans to bring you another performance in those times / place, and we’ll be sharing information on that very soon.

We look forward to seeing you this coming Monday, Oct. 26th, at The Paddock Tavern for Monkey Night in Canada. Thank you, as always, for your support.

Ticket presales will be refunded through Paypal as they were ordered. If you have any questions, please contact dj@monkeymanproductions.com.

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Monkey Night in Canada – 2015 edition!

MonkeyNight

It’s time to party like Monkeys! As we settle into fall and look forward to our November production of The Beast from Planet X, we want to get together with all our friends and celebrate! And perhaps, of course, raise a bit of money for the show …

This year, we’ll be engaging in our revels (drunken or sober, your choice) at The Paddock Tavern, at 178 Bathurst St on the southwest corner by Queen St West. There’ll be some entertainment, boisterous geekery, our regular 50/50 draw, and we may even draw back the curtain and give away some secrets about the mysterious Planet X!

As always, the event is PWYC donations at the door. Join us!

Here’s the Facebook event if you’d like to invite your friends!

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Monkeymail!

Greetings, Monkeyfolks!

As we gear up for our (incredible) fall production and make plans for our (amazing) 2016 season, we want to make sure all the announcements and information gets to the folks who care. Not everyone is an avid user of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. – but just about all of you check your email, so we’re rolling out a Monkeyman mailing list!

We won’t flood your inbox – just an occasional update with details about our shows, ticket giveaways, and what’s new with the Monkey. We’ll definitely never give your information to anyone else, or use it for any purpose outside these company communications. And of course, you’ll be able to unsubscribe at any time.

Click here to join our merry band of followers!

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Show Me The Mon(k)ey!

Tom Cruise as the title character of the 1996 motion picture, Jerry Maguire.

I have lots of opinions about theatre, especially the theatre I want to make. Generally, they’re passionate and have been refined over the years that I’ve been making theatre and attending shows, viewing them from a community member’s perspective. I will happily talk ears off when sharing these opinions, particularly after a couple of glasses of wine. I try to keep my more critical stances to myself, both because of the tight-knit interdependent theatre ecosystem of which I’m a part and because I know my own tastes and products are not for all markets.

But there is one topic I will sprint out of rooms to avoid. Fundraising for independent theatre – even when it’s for Monkeyman Productions, the theatre company I helped to found in 2008. I also very seldom read articles that bring up fundraising – you clearly have a stronger stomach than I do if you’re choosing to continue reading. For that, I’m grateful.

The reality is that making theatre requires money. And no one starts working in theatre to get rich. Or, if they do see it as a path to fame and fortune, they don’t hang around. And because we aren’t putting our geeky energies into scheming any major bank heists, for now, there are 3 obvious options Monkeyman Productions has explored as a company.

Option 1 – Art Council Grants

These are tough to get – almost impossible if payroll isn’t a big piece of your usual budgets. People get grants, sure, and Monkeyman Productions will keep applying for them, but personally I feel like they come with a strange sort of judgment built in. I have nightmares of follow-ups on successful grant applications that resemble the infamous Margie Gillis video. I believe in what we do as a theatre company and I know that the like-minded people that sit in our audiences agree. Everyone has a theory about who gets grant applications and who doesn’t. And the timelines are pretty enervating for the actual business of planning and producing a show. For this fall’s production of The Beast from Planet X, our application wasn’t successful, so that option was off the table.

Option 2 – Crowdfunding Websites

We successfully used this strategy for our 5th anniversary production in 2013. We’re very grateful to everyone that donated, but that was a special occasion and we don’t see ourselves as the kind of company that’s going to use that angle for our reliable schedule of two productions per year. There’s a point when repeatedly asking for support that way crosses the line into being a nuisance. We’d rather people get excited about an upcoming opening night than count down to a campaign end date. And it was tricky working towards 2013’s production with the looming responsibility to provide extras and perks hanging in the air. It’s fun making bonus content, but I’d prefer it be an occasional surprise, not an additional expectation the audience has of us.

Option 3 – Events like Monkey Night in Canada

A fundraising workhorse (workmonkey?) for the company, these are awesome annual fêtes, in my admittedly biased opinion. We meet our kind of people, we drink, we play games, and we get a great excuse to socialize with the cast before opening night. We’ve had silent auctions, 50/50 draws, and friends of the company have provided entertainment. To be honest, though, the returns on this style of event as a one-off fundraiser have been diminishing. It’s not a model we’re going to abandon completely, but I’m inclined to stop depending on it as much as we have.

With those 3 options down, I want to propose something different. Maybe even revolutionary, despite it being the most obvious thing in the world. If you believe in Monkeyman Productions, if you believe in the theatre we make, if you want to play a very real and active part in producing our show this fall, it’s easy. In the tweaked words of Rod Tidwell, I want you to say…

“Show me The Monkey.”

Today, we’re opening our box office and we’re going to be selling tickets to our fall production at a discount. Instead of our ticket sales indicating the success of our production after the fact, we’re asking people that want to see the show to demonstrate their support now. And we’re going to invest that support into our production. The more support we have, the better our production values, the better we can show our appreciation to the people working on the show, and the better our health as a not-for-profit theatre company will be, going forward.

Our performance dates are set. Our venue contract is signed and its rental fee paid. The Beast from Planet X will be on stage November 27th through 29th and December 2nd through 5th at the Palmerston Library Theatre. You’ll be able to buy a ticket now, but you don’t have to choose which day you want to attend until later. People buy advance tickets for concerts and entire seasons of big theatre companies all the time. Why not an independent theatre production?

No gimmicks, no bells, no whistles, no tiers, no stretch goals.

1. Buy a discounted ticket to the show between now and October 27th, one month before opening night. We’ve set up PayPal, we’ll happily set up offline options, we’ll probably have a Monkey Night in Canada to wrap up our #ShowMeTheMonkey campaign.

2. We’ll give you a reasonably long window of opportunity to select the performance you want to attend. If everyone’s screaming “Show me The Monkey!” and you only have one night you can see the show and we are blessed by Dionysus to sell out that night, we will give you a full refund. If you’re unable to attend on any of the performance dates, listed above, we’ll appreciatively accept a donation, but that won’t be grounds for a refund if you buy a ticket – just makes sense, right?

3. If you like this idea, tweet about @MonkeymanProd using the #ShowMeTheMonkey hashtag or share a link to this post.

Now, I realize I’ve just spent hundreds of words talking about fundraising for independent theatre, a topic I abhor. Why?

I’ve been a theatre creator with a day job for almost fifteen years. Some days are easier than others. I know, for a fact, there is no experience for collaborators or audiences quite like an authentic Monkeyman Productions experience. I spent much of 2014 away from making theatre, not sure when or if I’d return to it. Then, I read an early draft of D.J. Sylvis’s script for The Beast From Planet X and I got excited about producing and directing again. And if you secure yourself a spot in our audience, I think you’re really going to be moved by these characters and this story. There’ll be pop culture references, there’ll be opportunities to bask in the wonders of imagination, and there’ll be a heaping helping of heart. I can guarantee that. Buying an early-bird (early-monkey?) ticket means we will feel your presence not just in the theatre on that one night but in the audition room, in production meetings, in the rehearsal hall, and every moment in between. Our audience has never been more important to us. Save your seats months before the house opens. Say it with me now:

“Show me The Monkey.”

“Hey, I don’t have all the answers. In life, to be honest, I’ve failed as much as I’ve succeeded. But I love my wife, I love my life, and I wish you my kind of success.”

– The late, great, Dicky Fox

You can also find this post at MChodorek.com.

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Thankful-giving

Hey, Monkeyfriends! D.J. here, your Friendly Neighbourhood Co-Playwright and Co-Producer for Sidekicks and Secret Identities. I thought it was about time in this whole production process that I wrote a blog post.

I actually had one half-written that I’ve just sent to the trash, which was more focused on the producing process. I may get back to that eventually, but there was something more important that I wanted to do this morning. Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and I had a great time of it and ate a lot of awesome food … but I didn’t spend quite enough time actually giving thanks. I’d like to fix a bit of that right now.

  • Thank you, first and foremost, to the entirety of Monkeyman Productions. Every person in the company has a say in what we produce, and every one gives unending support and assistance in making these shows happen.
  • More particularly, thank you to my co-producer (and TD, and production designer), Lisa Sciannella. This whole thing would have fallen apart a dozen times if I were producing on my own. Every time I turn around, she’s taken on another task or fixed another problem before I even knew it existed.
  • Thank you to playwrights Manda Whitney and Errol Elumir, for taking something close to themselves and making it a part of our production, and being so damn gracious about it. We promise we’ll return the characters in the same condition as we found them.
  • Thank you to our director, Torey Urquhart, for your geeky mind and your huge heart and for throwing yourself into this despite being pulled in six other directions every day of it.
  • And to our stage manager, Emma Moore … if I might digress slightly, one of the absolute best things about being involved in Monkeyman is meeting new geeky, artsy people and sharing a production with them. I didn’t know any of the actors before we started this, and I didn’t know Emma existed. Only a few weeks later, I can’t imagine not knowing her, and I hope we get to work together a hundred more times. She’s like Monkeyman family already.
  • And as to those actors … I have to start with Kelly Preeper, who threw herself so completely into her role and the production and has been telling everyone about it. So much enthusiasm there, she’s a Force all to herself. (See what I did there?) And then thanks to Sean Kaufmann, who has devoted his energies to two completely different roles in the show, and is kicking ass and taking names no matter which costume he’s wearing. To Jordi O’Dael, as much a theatre geek as a geek geek, really the one who is taking our titular Sidekick to the center stage with joy and strength. And to Andrew Gaunce, who had the unenviable job of stepping into the shoes of a character Errol wrote for himself, all the kudos in the world for really making it his own.
  • Thanks to Linn Øyen Farley, for her poster design – always a much more important part of pulling a production together than I think anyone realizes.
  • And to a host of other people who have given their time and effort to the production – Nick Perrin, Nadine Lessio, Jamie Treschak, Melanie Moore … we’ll have a more defined list in our program, and even then we’ll likely miss someone in print. But you’re all awesome, and you’ve had a part in making a fun, lovely little piece of geek theatre possible.
  • Then to everyone who supports us online, through retweets and sharing Facebook announcements and saying to your friends, “Take a look at this …” You’re the ones who get people in the seats; without you, we’d be talking to ourselves. It’s greatly appreciated.
  • And finally in this list, but definitely not in importance, to the people who do sit in those seats – everyone who buys a ticket (or wins one, or gets a comp from a friend); everyone who watches and responds and gets caught up in the worlds we create, thank you for being a part of the production, as well. A play without an audience is truly one hand clapping – you’re the ones who make it complete.

So there you go. All these wonderful, amazing, spectacular folks have had a part in making S&SI happen. (I’ve done my best, too.) I hope you’ll come out and see what we’ve put together – I think you’ll wind up thankful that you did. ;)

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Enter … the Stage Manager

And this is a very special guest blog indeed – from Emma Moore, stage manager extraordinaire for Sidekicks and Secret Identities. You won’t see her at the show, at least until afterwards – but you may hear her!

Dear Reader:

Stand by for blog…(standing by) Blog one…….. GO!

And so, that’s the micro story of how I was late for my blog cue. (Cue sad trombone?) Something that should probably never happen if you’re stage managing an immaculate production like this.

As the elusive stage manager for Sidekicks and Secret Identities, for the first several weeks , some thought I didn’t exist. Others thought I was a friendly production ghost. The rest who knew the horrible truth lit a candle to pray for my safe return from the all consuming Toronto International Film Festival.

And friends, I emerged unscathed! But the fun just don’t stop. Now, I never learned to juggle, but the day I left festival I became a certified schedule-juggling-monkey, rocking festival and two new jobs at the Canadian Opera Company. And despite managing to mysteriously put together rehearsal schedules for three weeks of rehearsals, I had yet to meet my beloved cast… CUE MONKEY NIGHT IN CANADA, Monkeyman’s fundraiser spectacular. This shindig launched my corporeal debut as stage manager for the show, and I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction into such an inspiring and supportive company.

As for going forward, I thought I would write the rest of this stage management blog in a cue list:

Stand by for Thanksgiving
And GO for “Why are there so many turkeys in the grocery store?…oh right!”

Stand by for off book runs
And GO for “what’s my line again?”

Standby for tech rehearsal
And GO for “where is all the spike tape!”

Stand by for opening night
And GO for “full blown panic in the booth”*no one can hear me scream*

Stand by for curtain call
And GO for “yes I will have another alcohol, please!”

Break legs and skip cues, team :)

Your loving stage manager,

Emma.

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An Actor, A Nerd

Here’s another guest blog post – this one from actor Sean Kaufmann, who appears in two of the three pieces making up Sidekicks and Secret Identities. Reserve your tickets today to see him strut his stuff!

So…Monkeyman Productions, eh? Geek Theatre, eh? Nerdgasms Abound!

Yeah, I’m a not-so-secret nerd. I play videogames; mainly RPGs. My idea of a night out is a boardgame café with a cup of coffee and a new challenge…I am an eager Settlers of Catan fan. I happen to be one of those dangerously controversial fans of BOTH Star Wars AND Star Trek. I am a recovering World of Warcraft addict. I am preparing to finally dabble in the pencil and paper D & D Arts. There are many facets to my Nerdom, though I am a humble nerd. I bow and curtsey before all of the even more powerful nerds that populate this world – and more than likely, read these blogs.

Being asked to participate in not one, but TWO geek plays for this production was a dream come true. In Super, I play a bit of a rough and tumble actor turned idealist; contrasting that with the mild-mannered homemaker civilian in Fortress of Solitude was a bit of a challenge at first. Both have their separate wants, beliefs, and desires, yet still have a good heart and want the best out of life, both for themselves and for others. It is in staying true to their noble intentions that really allows the characters to come out and shine. Oh and acting opposite the talented Kelly Preeper makes any domestic argument an enjoyable one.

D.J. Sylvis, our devilishly talented auteur has a way with words. He knows what he wants to say and does so in a manner that brings out the insecurities and raw emotion of both the characters as well as the actors. Wrapping my simple actor brain around these golden nuggets of awesome required that extra bit of effort, but provided the greatest reward. Each word has its place and in such, a moment of clarity and explosion of brilliance.

Only the quirky, eccentric, adorable, and creatively explosive Torey Urquhart could stand up to this challenge, bringing these characters and stories to life with her signature pizzazz. Reminiscent of the affable Felicia Day, Torey has a delicious habit of seeing human behaviour in its most primal form and in her words, “trying to translate it from the Torey Brain.” With her at the helm, your visions of geekdom are safe from the hands of evil.

All in all, it has been a delightful experience so far in preparing for our momentous opening. Sidekicks & Secret Identities is a show NOT to be missed! Come on out and experience our hilarious and heartfelt hijinks! I mean, what else are you going to do? Play WOW? Warlords of Draenor doesn’t get released until November 8th … come out and play with us instead!

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Errol Elumir – Playwright-at-Large.

Guest Blog post by Errol, one of our co-playwrights for Sidekicks, a part of Sidekicks and Secret Identities which opens on October 17th. Wait, that’s only a little over a week away!

I’m a playwright.

Well, I only have one play but I like the sound of playwright. I didn’t know why it was spelled with a ‘wright’ but then I remembered millwright, and shipwright, and Phoenix Wright. Any relation I have to Phoenix Wright is alright if you ask me.

Truth be told, I’m a musician. I am part of a geeky musical duo called Debs & Errol. We sing about geek things. But no super heroes. We need to rectify that.

Anyway, I thought writing a script would be similar to writing a book.

It isn’t.

First off, things are written in script format…

errolfontjoke

Manda found a wonderful program called Writer Duet that not only does all of the script formatting automatically, it can be written online and shared with other people to collaborate. We love it! Now I can see where Manda has changed my dialogue again and I can change it back.

Secondly, things you write down on paper sometimes sound exceedingly stupid when spoken in real life. Why is that? Why can’t we envision real conversations in our head? Thus there is this thing called “Workshopping”.

Actually, I don’t know if it’s a verb or not. No idea. However, when you workshop your script, you get people to read through it. And then you can change the script to make it sound more natural and not like the characters are learning communication methods from an instruction manual.

Thirdly, actors and directors take your written word as infallible. If you put a comma in a sentence, their assumption is that comma is for a REASON. A symbolic, esoteric, most important reason. In reality, I throw Oxford commas in because English standards scare me with all the arbitrary choice! And now, because of my habit of drawing comics during high school english, my plays will suffer because the actors adhere to every text that appears in the script. Well, what would happen if I throw in something like π or ♬ or even ɷ? What will you do then, hunh?! What will you do then?

Now, how do I write plays, or sketches, or web series? I mostly write with Manda. She’s better at grammar than I am.

Manda and I have a tried and true method. We set up a scene. We improv that scene. Manda writes everything we say down because she remembers things (most importantly, she remembers that we should write what we say down). Once we have the script, we read through it again, I change all my lines, and Manda rewrites it. In the end, however, we get something we both like.

Originally, Sidekicks was a Web Series. We had to cut the series from six episodes to four. And although I am awful at recalling lines, I am very good at cutting text in scripts. There is something cathartic about that. It’s like spring cleaning. Except you’re throwing out babies. There are some things I had to cut and Manda would wince every time. Maybe it’s because I cut her stuff. I kid.

This brings me to something else I wish to talk about: acting.

I acted one of the roles in Sidekicks and I learned I don’t want to be an actor.

Don’t get me wrong, acting is an insane amount of fun. And when I’m on stage, I am super passionate about Totoro!

Wait. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to say that.

I meant to say I’m super passionate about performing. (But if you know me, it’s also Totoro. Muscle memory kicks in sometimes).

However, I dread hearing, “Let’s do another take.” I am happy with one take. I am happy with two takes if I messed up the first take. I am happy with three takes if I’m not involved in any of the takes and I can just play games on my phone.

I understand we need different shots and angles, but I can’t guarantee I’ll remember my lines, let alone perform them the same way. And sometimes, Lyf, who directed our web series version of Sidekicks, would give me a direction but by the second take I would have forgotten what that direction was.

Now, you may be thinking I’m digressing. And I am! But there is a concise TL;DR:

You learn all sorts of new stuff when you do things not in your normal sphere of creativity. Will there be an insane amount of work you did not anticipate? Yes. However the experience is worth it. Even if that experience is mostly, “I will never do that again.”

Hah! Fortunately, I hope to write more plays with Manda! Acting, on the other hand, I think I shall pass on.

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The Emo Beard and Writing What You Know

Hallo! My name is Manda and I co-wrote Sidekicks with Errol Elumir, part of the Monkeyman fall production, Sidekicks and Secret Identities!

I haven’t been a writer for an incredibly long time (although I’ve been saying that for four years now so maybe that statement has become obsolete). But I’ve been one long enough to hear the multitudes of advice that far more successful writers dole out to the masses. There’s A LOT of it out there, but the one that always inevitably crops up is “Write what you know”.

It makes sense. For the most part, I have stuck to this rule, for I am a timid soul and don’t like stepping much out of my warm and cozy comfort zone.

I know a lot about video games. I know a lot about awkwardness. I know a lot about pie, though I have yet to write anything about that.

Pie: The Musical

Pie: The Musical

I don’t, however, know a whole lot about superheroes. I was never the kid with the Marvel and DC comics stacked up by her bed. Hell, I barely read Marvel or DC comics as an adult.

I DID get into this recently though.

I DID get into this recently though.

No, everything I’ve ever learned about the insane world of superheroes has basically been from movies or from what my far more comic-savvy friends have told me.

Even then, my tastes are questionable. I haven’t seen all of the Marvel movies yet. I could not understand why Spiderman needed all of those cheesy catchphrases. I question ANYBODY’S need to inject themselves with any sort of untested, experimental super serum. I am one of the few people in the world who sincerely enjoyed the first X-men movie more than the second.

It wasn't THAT bad!

It wasn’t THAT bad!

In other words, I am probably the least qualified individual to write an entire script about the trials and tribulations of living in the superhero world. And normally, I would stick to my precious video games.

But then about two years ago, I was finishing up my first webseries with my co-writer/producer/actor Errol. We had written, produced and edited an entire webseries musical about NaNoWriMo in three months (in our spare time on top of full time jobs). It was…a lot of work. We were burned out to say the least and I was beginning to feel the pull of post-show depression hit me as it usually does after I finish something fun and rewarding.

Then someone showed me the trailer for Man of Steel. I can’t remember who showed it to me. I can’t remember even where I saw it. All I remember was the emo and the beard. All of the emo beard.

Two thoughts crossed my mind. One was that Superman is way hotter with a beard.

Yeah...yeah...

Yeah…yeah…

The other though was that all of this sudden emoness injected into our superhero movies would make a great sketch. And then it got me to thinking about the sidekicks of superheroes, and what they must think of their bosses in their off hours. Do they meet up and complain about their emo bosses or the ridiculous evil plots? And so, fueled by the sadness of one project ending and the hilarity that was “gritty superman”, I began to write this sketch.

Of course the jokes to be told were far too numerous to fit into one sketch. And so I brought my idea to Errol, who has become my partner in crime for most of my writing endeavors and who has great wisdom and talent when it comes to creative projects and I can say that here because it’s my blog and he can’t deny it.

At any rate, his suggestion was “Why not make it into a webseries? I can help write it!” My only response, well, my only response after fretting over my lack of qualifications, was that we would do it at a slower pace than our action packed musical webseries that nearly murdered my last nerve.

This is us after our last shot of the webseries!

This is us after our last shot of the webseries!

Nearly two years later, we have the webseries almost filmed and now a stage adaptation being produced. It is incredibly exciting and nerve-wracking. Although I did some research, my experience today remains much the same as it did two years ago. I do not know much about superheroes. I don’t know who fought what battle in what issue in what universe to save my life.

But I do know a lot about the pressure to live up to people’s expectations, to fulfill a role that you can’t quite fit into. I know a lot about lacking the skills that society values most. I know a bit about being dissatisfied when life feels stagnant or is not the perfect adventure it was made out to be. I know about how important having a true friend is when you’re feeling down and that a friendship can be just as strong as any romantic relationship.

I didn’t know that’s what we’d be writing about when we started this. First and foremost we wanted to tell a funny story about two people normally relegated to the sidelines and the insane laser filled world they lived in. But then the superhero does lend itself to the above themes.

All of this came about because of my delight of the Emo Beard.

And now we’re just waiting for an audience to share it all with. I am, naturally, nervous. Errol scoffs at my nervousness (anybody who knows me well knows now to scoff at my nervousness). But the thing is that I’ve stepped into unfamiliar territory on this project. And while it’s uncomfortable, it’s also a bit thrilling.

So I guess what I’m saying is…write what you know…and some of what you don’t. Because there are so many interesting things to learn about out there.

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