The Archetypes.


Archetypes are the emotional qualities which define the overall sense of a play, such as Love or Revenge or Ambition.

The archetypal world is played at the back of the stage. This is the realm of pure emotion, played physically and verbally. There is no narrative movement here. A play which has being on-going finds its emotional expression distilled and focussed here. For example, if a play about Romeo and Juliet were ongoing, the archetype would be love. When the player enters the back of the stage, this archetype is given expression. The Fool plays Love itself. When the fool enters this part of the play, and this part of the stage (the back), purely the emotion of the play is shown. In other worlds, the emotional quality of the play as a whole is expressed.

So, to enter the archetypal world, the fool physically moves from the middle of the stage – from a play – to the back of the stage where the play is expressed. At this point, the fool and the audience become fully conscious of what the overarching archetype of the play is. For Romeo and Juliet, The Play is love. There are many plays driven by love. Romeo and Juliet is a play within the play of Love. Another example: in Hamlet the archetype is Revenge. At any point during the play, this archetype itself could be played. Even when it’s not played, the archetype informs the play.

It remains hard to rationalise exactly what is done by a performer when an archetype is played. It is not the performance of, say, Juliet in love, but rather the performance of an intellectually abstract concept, love itself. This conundrum highlights the essence of fooling. It is driven from emotion, not reason. It can be analysed intellectually, but must be felt emotionally. The approach in Fooling is emotional. In that sense, this analysis (or conceptual foundation) helps not one little bit towards the apprehension of what the archetypal realm is. It is rather like reading a book on keep-fit to get in shape – it’s perhaps not a bad start to the enterprise but we need to get out of the chair to begin.

Physical Space. The audience and the Archetypal world are physically at opposite ends of the theatre. They are conceptually opposite too. If the audience is understood to be rationality (which includes judgment, rationality and the world of Cain) then the archetypal is its antithesis: freedom, emotion and the world of Able.

Archetypes in the Outer World. The realm of A Play in the theatre can be seen to correlate to the outer (aka real) world. It corresponds to the roles we adopt and situations we place ourselves within routinely within our lives. Perhaps, for example, you play (as I do) the aggrieved son to an inconsiderate mother, or (as I don’t) the dutiful daughter to a demanding father. These plays are commonly observable. Where they occur they accord with the person’s own mantras and scripts. In a similar way, we have overruling or prevailing archetypes within us which provide the emotional colour of our lives.

The archetypal world can be thought of as the realm of emotion. It can be understood to be where the gods reside: Pan and Aphrodite, Lust and Love; Zeus and Apollo, Power and Healing; Hades and Artemis, hell and hunting. It also incorporates the core elements of human emotional experience. In fooling this is understood to comprise three universal emotional experiences. Recognising these within ourselves and others is central and pivotal in understanding people. It is the recognition that we are all sacred, scared and scarred.