THE STRUCTURE – EXPLANATION OF TERMS AND CONCEPTS
The foolish stage is bare, because nothing in the performance is planned. The infinite props are imagined. Within that risky space the structure establishes a dialogue between the performer and the audience in which both of us understand where we’re heading and what scene we’re setting up. It has seven stages that can be trained and treated separately in order to gain a deeper understanding about each of them.
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…” Commentary is where we mostly are at when we communicate with others in everyday situations.
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 us 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 miming and exploration of detail can go on and on and on. But it won’t…
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 that follows. Before we launch into that play, we identify the emotional tone of the play by identifying what emotional state or quality defines it. This is the emotional “judgement”.
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. To make the transfer to everyday life: Getting to know one’s running judgement in different situations or in general in life can be very liberating. Like the work with “Mantras” that is described further down in the text, it reveals a huge driving force that we are most of the time not or hardly aware of. So on this level of the structure we start to reach further into the unknown areas of our consciousness.
CAPITULATION. 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 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.
LOOK, SEE, BE, FLY. It’s important to be able to visualise the improvised world. We do improvised theatre in the room within the room, and this inner room is seen in the mind’s eye. We move about physically on the stage as if we were inside the mind’s world. In practice, the clarity of improvised theatre – whether it works dramatically or not – depends on the clarity with which we visualise this imaginary world. There is no short cut. Emotional and theatrical authenticity depend on this clarity.
Obtaining this clarity is difficult. It can be hard to see anything at first. Begin by looking. Looking is the start of the process. Seeing is simply the result of looking. We look and then we see. Our gaze reverses and through looking we start to see into our internal world.
The emotional resonance of things that we have seen and experiences arise from our imagination. The world is anthropomorphised inside. Everything in it is capable of the full range of human emotions. Like a person, every thinghas a current state of mind. It is no harder to become a shoe with authenticity than it is to become a person.
In fact, it can be extremely hard to do either. We may feel there is a difference: when we pretend to become a person we hope we appear less ridiculous than if we were to pretend to be a shoe. But both roles require a complete emotional capitulation into another state. Both roles require us to give up ourselves and give into the role.
Fly:Once we have becomesomething in the dream world we see the inner world as that thing, from that thing’s perspective. The perspective is physical and emotional. The fool moves from role to role in the dream world, playing out the conflict, or series of conflicts within a play.
THE ARCHETYPAL WORLD. 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 at our core. In recognising that, we acknowledge an unspoken truth of the human condition. No individual can be understood without this recognition: who we are, and how we are, and how we interact, depend on the truth of the fact that we hold ourselves sacred, scared and scarred.
In foolish theatre, this is located in the archetypal realm. It is expressed in its purest form there.
The method of fooling leads us to an understanding of Archetypes as influences that come from a very far and powerful place in the reality of human consciousness. From there they influence our daily lives and interaction. In an everyday state of consciousness we often are not aware of these influences. A Fool develops a sense for these influences, in order to “visit” or “be visited” during his/her performance by one of this archetypes and deal with the pure and undiluted quality of it in a playful way. This can be very revealing for both: performer and audience.
TECHNIQUES FOR PLAYING IN THE ARCHETYPAL WORLD:
Usually, performing in the archetypal world means for the performer to be in a very slow pace. Archetypes have a different timing so to say. Techniques that can be used here as well are: ‘Tableaux, Blob & Twin’: A Tableaux is the movement of the performers to form a picture on onstage, whether static or moving. ‘Blobbing’ is a way of moving together as one organism, learning to listen to yourself, to each other and to the space.
After going through all this stages you:
BEGIN AGAIN. Each improvisation starts anew. It springs fresh from the audience and the fool and is driven by whatever current emotion she has. No improvisation is revisited. In this sense each play is marked by a fresh start: we begin again each and every time we play.
In a similar sense, as a fool gains experience, there is a temptation for her to measure her success against her previous performances and against other people’s plays. This introduces judgment, which can impede or even paralyse that artistic and creative freedom on which fooling thrives. So to avoid that harsh measure, fooling encourages performers to strive to see their work not as a series of progressions towards success and achievement, but rather as a series of continual starts: each time we perform, we begin again.