The Structure

  1. THE STRUCTURE

–        How to get to the Dream World of foolish theatre

Empty-stageThere are 5 steps we go through to enable us to get into this dream-like world, called “the structure”. The structure allows the audience to understand where we’re heading and what scene we’re setting up. The foolish stage is bare, because nothing is planned and the infinite props are imagined. To avoid confusion or blanks in the audience’s minds, a structure is followed before the action begins.

ONE: COMMENTARY When we stand up we talk to the audience in Commentary. When we speak we talk about the world, such as: “Today I got up and brushed my teeth and said good morning to my mother” this is Commentary. Ordinarily, stories are usually told in commentary, like in books. This synopsis is in commentary. Most of comedy operates in commentary, as do everyday stories and accounts we give to friends of events in our lives. Commentary often tells a story. It tends to have a direction, going towards an end or conclusion. In fooling, it sets a scene. It begins right off the cuff, inspired out of the audience, or anything that takes the fool’s imagination. “I was walking down the street today when I saw a man who had a hat like yours…”

TWO: DEMONSTRATION There is no set in foolish theatre. The stage is blank. It must be established in the Fool’s and audience’s mind’s eye. The set must be established as a room “within a room.” So, we show where things are and what they are by demonstrating with our bodies, and by commentary. Demonstration works like this: if we have a man in a hat, place him somewhere on the stage. Mime the man: show some of his physicality, such as his slouch and lascivious smile. In fooling, Demonstration isn’t restricted to a mime of human actions . Mime the hat too. Show its anthropomorphic attitude: its sycophancy. Or perhaps the hat is too cool for the man. Show how the hat suffers to be put on. Show how the man suffers to wear it – “it’s just not me.” Now, show where the street is. The set is now transformed, in the audience’s imagination, to a place with physicality: colour, objects, people and things. To do this, the whole set is first seen in great detail in the fool’s mind’s eye. Some of this detail is shared with the audience. It cannot all be shared as the detail is infinite: the more we look the more we see. Demonstration doesn’t, or needn’t, have an end. Such mimes and exploration of detail can go on and on and on. But it won’t…

THREE: SPECULATION Drama needs a hook for the audience; some question which must be answered: will I get the girl; can I keep my throne; will I ever be able to forgive him? This is the speculation. The speculation follows on spontaneously (but not necessarily predictably) from and out of the scene and the set established in Commentary and Demonstration. The answer to the speculation is answered in the play which follows. Before we launch in to that play, we identify the emotional tone of the play by identifying what emotional state or quality defines it. This is the emotional “judgement”.

FOUR: JUDGMENT- finding the emotional quality of the play Drama needs an emotional quality. After speculation, we identify or find this quality and begin within it. Speculation: Will I dump my girlfriend?                 Judgment:            I feel scared Speculation: Will I dump my girlfriend?                 Judgment:            I feel malicious Speculation: Will I dump my girlfriend?                 Judgment:            I feel indifferent The tone and the direction of the piece changes entirely with the judgment. (This is true at every stage of the structure: nothing is predictable; nothing is planned. It can veer off in any direction at any point.)

FIVE: CAPITULATION – giving up and giving in to the now Up to this point the set and scenario have been established (without planning or forethought). After the judgment the play is ready to begin. The fool now feels the emotion identified in judgment: eg malice. The fool now Capitulates into the play. He gives up Thinking and capitulates into an emotional state, into one of the roles identified. The fool throws himself into a dream-like world. The play is improvised out of the emotional quality of the play. It springs spontaneously out of the emotion felt by the fool. Eg, I want to leave my girl. I’m terrified she’ll go nuts and here she is, re-arranging my CDs into the attic… “darling, let me help you there, …” The play does NOT emerge from an act of rational calculation (“Thinking”) eg: here are boy and girl, and he’s not got the pluck to end things with her directly, so a really nice twist here will be if I play the part of him organising some accident… Give up Thinking. The play cannot proceed if the Fool is worried about externalities such as the quality of his performance. There is no room here for thoughts such as “Will I be good” or “what is the audience thinking of my performance.” These thoughts have a huge emotional quality of their own. This is judgement, and it plagues most of us most of the time in ordinary life. Judgement interferes with the timbre of the play, which is improvised out of emotion. If the emotional quality is malice, then the boy is working towards causing upset. If Judgment comes into the play, then the boy is worried about what others may think of him.  Overcoming our judgment (of ourselves and others) is a large part of the work of the fool. So, in Capitulation, the speculation is answered. Anything can happen. Here you are driven by emotions, not “thinking”. This is where fools commit their murders and rapes. This is where they break with their girlfriends and marry a bottle of Chateau Lafitte. The speculation is answered through a conflict, else there is no drama. This is no good: Will I get the girl? Yes here she is. The end.

Working through “1 to 5” of the structure. The fool can have no plans of where she is going. At any of the stages 1-5, the set up veers off in unseen directions.

For example:

Commentary      – (scenario) when I was at school I had a girlfriend I wanted to marry.

Demonstration   – (the set) so, here she is [mimes: enormous tummy, one eye in her head]

Speculation        – (the hook) I wondered, was she really human?

Judgment             – (the emotional quality) I feel hungry How to get here: who stands up on stage with such freedom? It’s not our everyday self with our pre-occupation about how we are coming across. It’s some part of ourselves free of judgment. We can understand this in terms of the story of Cain or Able. Cain is our planner, judge, and audience member. Able is our fun, our spontaneity and performer. Cain kills Able for his resentment.