It is common experience for people to be aware of an inner voice.  This can manifest as a voice which argues against them.  It can be experienced as the other side of a conversation which a person plays out in their head.  There is a duality at work here which in Foolish theatre is called the twin.

This idea is amplified by the story of Cain and Able.  Traditionally, the story is viewed as a tale between two brothers, who are very different and who have a very different relationship with God. At the end of the story, Able kills Cain.  Instead of seeing this as a story about two brothers, it can be understood as a story about the duality of human nature: Cain and Able are two aspects of the same person.  In the story, Cain sets up his farm in a productive way.  He ploughs the land, and tends his animals in his farmstead with care and attention.  God comes along and Cain, keen to impress him, shows him the results of his hard work.  God says, “Very nice, but have you seen your brother Able?”  Cain points him up the mountain, where Able is away playing music with his sheep tending themselves.  On another day, God turns up again at the farm, and again asks Cain where Able is.  Ignoring Cain’s desperate attempts to show him the newly constructed pig-sty and feeding trough, God again wanders past the farm and up the hill to find Able.  Cain is jealous, and follows God up the mountain.  He hears God and Able having a great time, playing music and joking together.  Why, wonders Cain, why on earth does God spend his time with Able?

And so the story continues, with Cain killing Able in the end and asking God famously, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  For the fool, Cain and Able represent the duality within us between our productive side and our creative side; our order and disorder; our work and our play; our practical and our spiritual.  We all have a Cain and an Able.  There’s usually an imbalance: one expresses itself more than the other in us.  I have the impression that society values Cain more, at least explicitly.  Cain brings home the bacon, makes life possible by administrating it, builds our houses and keeps the wolf from the door. Our Ables are the point of life, making all this worth while.  They are the reason to live at all: Able is our fun, our personal expression, our creativity, our own voice and individuality.  The relationship between our Cains and Ables define how we lead our lives.  The balance of our Cain and Able is exposed by answering such questions as, Are we practical?  Can we have fun?  Are we frustrated by inefficiency?  Are we incapable of joining in with life? Are we always planning for the future?  Can we enjoy the moment?  Just as there is a relationship between our inner Cain and Able, so too they relate externally and separately with other people’s Cain and Able.  Our Cains relate to people in judgment, in all these terms which make sense to Cain: productivity, utility, success, attainment, the appreciation of skill sets, and so on.  But we don’t love our lovers for such reasons: as the poets have it, love is blind.  When we fall in love, it is a relationship between our Ables.

Cain inhabits the outer world, Able the inner world.  Our Able is our creativity.  She is free from judgment and all those practical considerations that are so important in the outer (or real) world of Cain.  Any artistic, or personal, or authentic expression of an individual can be thought of as an expression by Able.  When other considerations arise, such as worries about the quality of the performance, whether the audience will be pleased, whether we’ll get due recognition, this can be seen as Cain imposing himself.  Where the performer is able to create in an emotional free space (free of judgement) that performer is performing with their Able.  If Cain is asked to perform, he will act as an audience member. He is embarrassed, concerned for how he looks and comes across. He worries he has nothing to say, or that his voice is not good enough for public performance.  He attempts a routine, hoping that it will please his audience.  Cain cannot enjoy that moment of performance: it exposes him and he wishes to remain hidden, uncovered and unknown.  He hides himself in his defences: refusal, embarrassment, a fixed smile, sarcasm, aggression and so on.

When we perform, our Able gets up on stage.

Able cannot be summoned to perform.  He arrives when he wants to, not when he is needed.  Punctuality and reliability are not Able’s qualities, they are Cain’s.

Able, as explored here, can be thought of as our twin.  He is elusive, flighty and can be distant.  The relationship we have with our Able – our Cain and Able – is at the centre of our authenticity as performers.  As we have this duality by our nature, this twin relationship between Cain and Able is at the centre of our integrity.  This integration between Cain and Able, the “twin relationship”, is the most important relationship of our lives.Fooling, as a process, is a continual exploration and development of this relationship.