Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Fools need crates and old functioning tape recorders. If you have access to either of these please let us know. johnp@neofuturists.org.

Also the ensemble in rehearsals is playing with foolish social scenerios in order to generate ideas for the show. A few days ago I was carrying a crate on the CTA Bus. I sat in the back where all the new buses have people sitting pretty close together facing each other, which should be good for generating conversation, but in Chicago only makes all parties feel self-conscious and invaded. While I was sitting back there a man began laughing under his breath. Over the next 5 minutes it grew intense, heavy guffaws. He was looking at a xeroxed copy of a book, so perhaps he just found a passage that was extremely funny. But he continued laughing off and on, mostly on, for the entire ride (35 minutes) taking in loud choke-like breathes and laughing, snickering, and of course guffawing. It seemed obvious that he had some kind of social anxiety and this was his way of dealing with it, but the affect it had on the passengers and me,holding a crate in my hand, was almost more fascinating than his social defense. I felt like we were all cogs in a communal foolish producing machine. We ignored him, we looked up occasionally and snickered with him, and to ourselves, we exchanged glances that somehow soothed our own anxieties for moments. Are started thinking irrational thoughts. "Maybe he's laughing at me." "Maybe he knows something I don't, prophetic humor, maybe we are all laughable, ridiculous humans packed in this moving machine." Also, like the work of the Holy Fools, something in his actions made me feel responsible for his anxiety, and yet I had a stronger need to try to ignore him. It seemed a perfect scenereo for our study about "who is the Fool".

So now I open up the conversation for anyone; ensemble, friends and strangers to please share similar scenereos with us, so that we have more variety to play with while in rehearsals. Short or long but any personal experience where who was foolish seemed to be in question.


The Management.


Blogger Rachel said...

I was on the elevator at work, headed from the 23rd floor to the first. At the 17th floor a man got on, not speaking, not looking at me. Just your average clean-cut type, about 30ish, like the majority of the people working in my building. We rode in silence until about the 13th floor (there is a 13th floor, and it has a button on the elevator -- I guess superstition has dissipated). Then all of a sudden he said loudly, "So THAT'S what you're wearing?"

I flinched and looked down at my outfit. What was the problem? What sartorial disaster would inspire such scoffing from a perfect stranger? Who did he think he was, Tim Gunn?

And then I realized, in the next instant, that he was talking on his mobile phone. One of those teeny jobbies lodged deep in his ear canal. He must have been listening to someone when he got on, and was just now responding.

The doors opened on the first floor and he breezed out, now deep in conversation with the offending party. I laughed all the way to the Corner Bakery.

I'm continually fascinated by the way these new gizmos erase the distinction between "crazy" / "not crazy". Now, your average clean-cut type looks the same as your raving kook staggering down State Street.

One similarity: I give both types a wide, wide berth. You never know.

8:32 PM  
Blogger Kurt Chiang said...

I'm going to put this story down and see if it relates any.

I was in a play. I played a police officer/security guard kind of character. Part of my role was to greet audience members into the space at the top of their show. I would welcome them, show them to their seats, but I would also harass them, swipe them through a metal detector and poke them with a night-stick, delivering clever witticisms all the while. It was that kind of show.

On one night, this highly unkept older gentleman, wreaking of alcohol, toothless grin, he came into the space, looking like he was lost but seemingly okay with that. At first I was doing my normal routine, giving him the once over with the night-stick and going on about national security threats, when I noticed he was reacting differently. Normally, people would stop when I spoke to them, pleading with their eyes for me to stop talking and let them sit down and read the program. But this guy looked me straight in the eye, nodded and smiled, patted me on the shoulder, and started wandering the stage.

I was baffled. I stood in place and watched him explore our set. Then, our stage manager pushed his way through the line of audience members trying to get in, took the toothless guy by the arm, and escorted him out. He hadn't paid to get in. As he left, I noticed he was wearing a hat that he hadn't been wearing before.

Apparently, the hat was a pre-set costume piece, and apparently I watched him pick it up and put it on as he was being shown the door.

And we had to find another hat for the show.

I like to think about this story anytime I need to willingly play the fool, in theatre or otherwise. It always reminds me that there's always someone a bit more foolish than I, and he's going to find me, and he's going to make me look like a big asshole.

2:27 PM  
Blogger Dina said...

Okay. I don't know his name, never have, but he has been with me for years. He's short, wears glasses, very round body, he always wears the same brown leather jacket and carries an empty can of Diet Dr. Pepper. I think he must be in his 50's, his face lined and dark hair gone from the top of his head.

For years, when I lived off the Berwyn red line stop, I'd see him on the northbound train as I made my way home for the day from downtown. It just so happened that more often that not, I got on the same car as him. He would sit in one of the seats by the doors, holding his empty Diet Dr. Pepper, snorting. Snorting, and sucking on his teeth. Crinkling his can. And talking to himself, or others, without their permission. He would speak very loudly. "HELLO!" very cheerfully. Monday through Friday, any one of those days I could see him. And sometimes, I would just watch him. Watch him make his little sounds, more out of fascination than anything. He's so clearly in his own world, and when he'd make conversation, it was usually with a girl. He's totally harmless from what I could see, but a bit of a nuisance nonetheless.

When I moved, I didn't see him for a year and a half. When I started seeing him again a few months ago, I was almost relieved. I don't know why. I was just so pleased to see that he hadn't disappeared now that I live somewhere else. One day on the train, I was sitting by the doors and he got on the crowded train and stood right in front of me. It was the closest I had ever been to the guy, and suddenly he said, "HELLO!"

"Hello." I said. I was suddenly very nervous. Weird guy was talking to me! But because he's so weird, I discouraged conversation by turning on my ipod. He talked to me anyway. I don't remember all that he said, other than "WHAT A NICE DAY, ISN'T IT?", and when I was leaving the train he told me to have a good night and be careful. Did he recognize me? Probably not. But after all this time, what are the chances that he'd decide I was the one he'd like to talk to?

I saw him this morning on the red line (this morning! not in the afternoon!); we were on the same car again, only this time he stood in the middle of the train. He was talking to people uninvited again, and holding that same can of Diet Dr. Pepper. Yup, that's my crazy guy, my very own red line-ridin' fool.

3:01 PM  

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