Questions for Ignorance readers, contributors, & audience

Hello out there! Whether you’re new to the Ignorance blog or a seasoned contributor, please consider the following questions and respond to any or all of them:

  1. How did you hear about the project and how often have you visited the site and/or made comment or post contributions?
  2. How would you describe your experience with the Open Creation process?
  3. Do you have anything else you’d like to say about Open Creation? For example, would you do it again?

The Old Trout Puppet Workshop’s Open Creation process is really unique and, as participants, you’ve helped shape something new in Canadian theatre. With the company’s permission, I’m looking for your feedback to the above questions, as well as for any responses that my questions don’t address. And hey, you can get creative: write, draw, or post video, if that’s what it takes to get your message across.

For the extra-curious, I’m a grad student at the University of Toronto and I’m working on a project to facilitate online playmaking activities between artists and audiences: www.theatrehub.wordpress.com.

 

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Ignorance PWYC Preview in Calgary

Title: Ignorance PWYC Preview in Calgary
Location: pumphouse theatres – Victor Mitchell Theatre
Link out: Click here
Description: Check it out Check it out! We have a two week run in Calgary before the show heads to eastern Canada and beyond.
Start Date: 2012-10-23
Start Time: 8:00
End Date: 2012-11-3

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Ignorance at Magnetic North

Tomorrow we stagger forth from our oddly cave-like workshop to perform the beast at the Magnetic North Theatre Festival here in Calgary, our first showing in our dear home-town.  We’ve been revising away since the first runs in Edmonton, Vancouver, and Banff, and we think it’s better.  For example, now we have prehistoric vultures, and that’s always an improvement:


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Ignorance at the Roxy

Just watched a dress performance and came home delighted.  I loved the creativity, the sets and the theme of the play.  What impressed me most was how the puppets really were individual personalities and not just extensions of the people who were playing them.  It was an awesome play!  Thank you.

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But what about recent research?

I loved the show. Okay, I loved it and hated it. I thought about it for days afterward, which does not often happen because, believe me, after this many years of seeing theatre, I have a quick and dirty brain function for deleting shows that should be forgotten. This one was painful, dark, and sticky. The phrase I repeated endlessly to my partner was “really f&%^&g clever.” It was like a hot chile pepper that you don’t know is hot until you finish eating it and reach for a drink of water. But here’s the thing that stuck in my craw: I had just finished reading Sex at Dawn before seeing the play, and…I don’t know…I was pretty convinced by recent thought in evolutionary psych that those early human puppets would have been much more content, connected, and less neurotic than we post-agricultural variety. So, I felt unsatisfied by the cliche premise that unhappiness is a “hard-wired in our brains” kind of thing, instead of a “we have really, really left our natural environment and social system behind” kind of thing. Forgive me for not speaking sooner. I only saw the poster on closing weekend, booked a last-minute babysitter, and literally ran to the theatre.

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Show at the Cultch

Saw the show last night at the Cultch. Loved the unpretentious simplicity and humour of the show’s method of communicating some profoundly simple observations on the state of of race. Had a notion after the talkback session as regards a possible second act or sequel to this wonderful show. The pursuit of happiness as shown hinted at mythologies on the cave wall – why not pursue the notion of PROMISE by dealing with the creation of the religions of the world and their promises hope and the resulting chaos that ensues as it becomes organized into the tyranny of “those that KNOW”. Who knows there may be something in the “pile of shame” that could suddenly find a use – like Don Juan’s ancestor with his bevy of ape brides.In this regard there is a wonderful book – H.G. Wells SHORT HISTORY OF THE WORLD – that notes the development in a relatively short period (in the grand scheme of things) of the three major world religions – Buddhism, Islam and Christianity – with the rise of their three prophets. Just a thought for your wonderful OPEN PROCESS.

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It lives!

Ignorance opened at the Cultch, in Vancouver, last Wednesday, and it’s playing until March 10th.  It’s going well.  Here’s a photo from our friend Nick, which says it all.

 

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Process of Small town syndrome


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Call for credits

Anybody who posted who would like to have their name in the program, send us an email — mail@theoldtrouts.org is the address to use.  We’d like to have a section that lists all the website contributors to date, although we have to know soon, as in, by Friday (sorry). We’re getting close to the actual show hitting the stage — at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, with the opening on February 29th (an auspicious day, we think.)  A gigantic thank you to all who contributed — and of course, we’d love to hear what you think after you see the show, too, if you can come see it.

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Where we’re at!

Okay, so we had a work-in-progress presentation at the Banff Centre a week or so ago.  The good people in Banff let us use their theatre, with all the bells and whistles and a gang of wondrous technical folks, so that we could put up a rough idea of the show, and see if it was working.  We had some supporters and friends and family out to see it, and they told us what they thought at dinner after the show.

We’re still digesting, I’ll admit.  It was a crazed experience putting it up at this stage — three months before we actually open the show for real — but it was absurdly helpful.  Okay, so there were some technical issues, and the transitions were slow, and a scene or two that didn’t really work at all.  But overall we think we’ve got something that’s going to work.

Here’s the script that we more or less followed.  It changed in important ways over the workshop — the elusive ending kind of settled into place — not so much in terms of staging, which was pretty rough (and noisy — the air compressor we used to inflate the balloon sounded like a jet airplane for crying out loud), but the sort of thematic maneuver of the play made itself somewhat clearer — something about this question: is happiness really the point of life?  Or is there something kind of deranged and shallow and even hopeless about that prescription?  Is there more to it than that?  What comes after happiness?

In some ways, I think the show is actually about coming to grips with parenthood.  To be more specific, it’s about dudes coming to terms with fatherhood, moving from the stage of life that’s about making yourself happy, to the stage where there’s something much bigger at stake.  That’s my theory, anyway.  Sometimes these things don’t make themselves clear until very late in the process — the secret struggles that motivate a show burble up and bark at you, and whatever you thought you were doing finally kind of falls into place.

The next version, to my mind, will attempt to clarify the barking burbles.  And we’ll probably ditch the scene on the moon.

Here it is, as it was:

ACT ONE: Inside the Cave

1. THE AGE OF IGNORANCE

 

[The stage is dark.  We hear wind whistling, and dripping water.  We wait for awhile, and then hear a distant drum booming, approaching; soon we can make out a kind of moaning song and the occasional mournful groan of some tusk trumpet being played.  Three shaggy characters enter, wearing furs and ornamented with peculiar artifacts: fetishes made of bone and twigs.  One of them bears a flickering torch that provides a dim light, by which we can make out their sloped brows and heavy shoulders and the texture of the cave wall as they pass (this is projected).  They light a big fire in the middle of the stage, with great ceremony, for in their minds they are enacting the birth of the universe; they shuffle about, saying preparatory prayers to their heathen gods.]

 

VIDEO: cave wall, embers flying up

 

[As the firelight makes them visible, we realize they are men wearing naked suits – old-fashioned union suits with nipples and chest hair sewn on.  Their naughty bits are covered by fig leaves.]

 

[They enact the creation of a prehistoric Adam: one of them begins to moan like he’s having labour pains.  He’s wearing antlers strapped to his head, and has two stuffed goat bladders hanging around his neck that look like leathery breasts; he’s also wearing a skirt made of dried grass – he’s Big Mama, the goddess of the deer clan, and she’s about to give birth.]

[The others scamper over in concern and excitement. The labour pains grow frantic – as Big Mama groans, the rest of the tribe echoes (that is, over the sound system), and the third puppeteer extrudes a puppet from between Big Mama’s legs.]

[The puppet lies on the ground.  They dance in joy, and one of the puppeteers picks it up and holds it to one of Big Mama’s teats so it can suckle.  They coo at the baby in delight.]

 

MUSIC: NIKOLAI – Merry Wives of Windsor

VIDEO: title card for the documentary – IGNORANCE, narrated by Sir Reginald Chute; performed by the Royal Dutch Paleo-Anthropological Reënactment Society

 

THE NARRATOR:

It’s the year 30,000 BC.  We are not yet human beings: all of our marvelous accomplishments – our conquest of the earth and seas and sky, of space and all the plants and animals – are still to come, and we are still no more than animals ourselves.  Like animals, we fight for territory, and the weaker tribes have been driven from the fertile warmth of Africa.  The exiled ones wandered in all directions, pushed out, and some arrived to Europe.  It was a harsh and difficult place, but they managed to live meagerly for awhile, until the Ice Age came.  Now they live like trolls in caves, gnawing the pallid bodies of sightless cave-fish for sustenance.  Outside, the north wind howls, and ferocious monsters lurk, so the tribe huddles for mutual survival in the dark and smoke and body odour.

 

This is the world into which our hero has been born.  The tribe is ecstatic: this is one, tiny, fragile step away from extinction. 

 

But once he is born, there is nothing they can do for him; everybody is on their own in this life.

 

Only one thing saves him from the spectre of hopelessness.  He has a very small brain, and so he cannot conceive of anything better.  He is happy simply to be alive.

 

Welcome to the Age of Ignorance.

 

 

 


2. HAPPINESS TODAY

 

THE NARRATOR:

So many thousands of years later, even though we have everything we could possibly want, we are not nearly so happy.  Most people experience only occasional whiffs of contentment, and a surprising number of us are altogether miserable; in fact, by the time this show is over, fourteen people will have jumped off of bridges in North America alone, and twice that number in Finland, where they don’t even have that many bridges.  What’s gone wrong?  How has happiness slipped from our grasp?

 

VIDEO: the Zoo

[Enter a modern child.  He is at the zoo, and is looking at all the animals.  He’s a bit of a melancholic child.  Enter his father – an enormous pair of legs, since he’s being seen from the kid’s eye-level.  Dad gives the kid a happy face balloon he’s just bought from a clown we saw passing in the projection.]

 

[The kid takes the balloon, and Dad wanders off.  The kid plays with the balloon a bit, kind of pleased.  He notes that it floats, and looks up into the sky.  He lets the balloon go, and watches in wonder as it floats away.]

[But then he realizes that his balloon is gone.  The kid begins to cry.]

 

 

MUSIC: Clementi – Sonata in G Minor, “Didone Abbandonata” op.50 no.3 – I. Introduzione: Largo patetico e sostenuto – Allegro, ma con espressione 8:30

 


3. FIGHT OR FLIGHT

THE NARRATOR a:

Our prehistoric ancestors were driven purely by instincts. Instincts are nothing more than evolved behaviours that help the species proliferate; if the behaviour works, it gets hardwired into a creature’s very being.

 

 Mother Nature encourages that behaviour through neurochemicals.  When a beast’s biology needs food, something squirts in its brain that makes it feel hungry, and when it eats, another thing squirts, and it feels content.  There’s no need to think about it – millions of years of evolution have done the thinking already.  When it’s hungry, Mother Nature’s in charge – it’s time to eat. 

 

[The puppeteers bring forth ugly little bat puppets made from soot-blackened leather and teeth tied to branches, and make them flap about like it’s a Disney movie; Adam is delighted, and he coos at them.  Then he realizes that he’s hungry, and tries to catch the bats to eat them.]

 

THE NARRATOR b:

Might those bats make a good dinner? 

 

[Adam discovers a sightless cave-grub inching along one of the prongs, and tries to sneak up on it; it squirts him with some revolting bug-juice.  He’s delighted by his new friend.]

THE NARRATOR c:

What about that sightless cave-grub? 

 

[Enter two sabre-toothed cave-rats, which are puppets made of the skins of real sabre-toothed rats worn as slippers.  Adam chases them but they are too fast; he chases them around the fire but they escape, even though he doesn’t realize it, and he keeps running around the fire until they squeak at him mockingly.]

 

THE NARRATOR d:

Or those sabre-toothed cave rats? That might seem like a revolting prospect for us, but remember — fine cooking hasn’t been invented yetOur simple friend would consider them a delicacy!

 

[He can’t catch anything at all.]

[Adam sits, humming cheerfully to himself like a simpleton.  Enter Eve, another puppet, snuffling and grubbing about.  Adam’s puppeteer makes squirty sounds.]

THE NARRATOR e:

Look!  A shapely female has appeared.  Hear that?  It’s the sound of neurochemicals squirting!

 

[They see each other, and are initially suspicious.  Soon, though, they approach each other.  They share in a touching scene of first love.]

 

MUSIC: What is a Youth

 

THE NARRATOR f:

(whispering)

Uh oh… what’s this? It looks like an old alpha male.  And he doesn’t look like he wants to be friends… with another male, at least. 

 

[Big booming drumbeats and howling interrupt them.  They panic, and scamper to hide.  Enter King Gog, the alpha male of the tribe; he is huge and primitive, closer to ape than Adam and Eve; the puppet looks like a big boulder strapped to the puppeteer’s belly. He is dragging the half-eaten carcass of a sightless cave-fish.]

 [King Gog pounds his chest and bellows, for he has brought dinner for Eve.  He hurls the carcass to the ground, and plucks a bit of something nasty from the fish’s skull, and shoves it towards Eve to eat.  She gobbles at it on the floor.]

[Adam creeps up to try to have a bite, but Gog swats him away.  Gog is pleased with himself, and feeling amorous; he grabs Eve by her body hair, and begins to drag her off; Adam shrieks and waves his arms to try to stop him, but Gog roars a terrible roar (assisted by the sound system), and Adam is cowed.]

THE NARRATOR g:

He’s not going to argue with that!  His instincts serve him well – he knows when to fight, and when to flee.

[Exit Gog, dragging Eve, who reaches out to Adam as they go.  Adam is too scared to reach back.]

THE NARRATOR h:

And when to just find a nice cozy place to sleep.

 

 

[He shuffles mournfully to centre-stage, although he quickly forgets what happened; he scratches his arse, and then settles down to sleep in a corner.]

 

VIDEO: cave wall

 

 


4. MOTHER NATURE’S MISTAKE

 

VIDEO: elevator buttons blinking as the elevator goes up

SOUND: elevator muzak, ding, traffic sounds

 

THE NARRATORa:

Fleeing when there’s trouble is a good evolutionary strategy – it keeps our species alive and reproducing.  But feeling miserable doesn’t seem like a very good evolutionary strategy.  How could it be good for our species if some of us are so miserable we want to die?  Shouldn’t that gene have been erased long ago?  Mother Nature seems to have made a mistake!

 

[The projector shows a downtown skyline.  A puppeteer brings out a building with a window with a ledge – we’re high up.  Another puppeteer brings out a big industrial fan, which sits on the floor below the ledge.  Two pigeons bobble on the roof.]

[A man can be seen behind the window; he opens the window, and looks out.  He has tear-stained cheeks.  He produces some papers (divorce papers or something) and tears them up and throws them out the window (they scatter in the fan’s wind, out into the audience).]

  [He steps out onto the ledge; wind makes him sway dangerously. The man looks down off the ledge; traffic noise from below.  He’s not totally sure he wants to jump; after awhile of working himself up, he almost does it, but changes his mind at the last minute, and starts to climb back through the window; but then depression overwhelms him again, and back to the ledge he goes.  He stares down at the traffic, and weeps, and gets ready to jump again, takes a deep breath, changes his mind, thinks about going back in, changes his mind, ponders his misery, steps to the edge, takes a deep breath, when the Happy Face Balloon from before floats by.  He brightens, wiping away his tears, and reaches for the balloon; he manages to catch it, and floats up into the sky – the building rolls back where it came from, and now the video screen shows clouds.]

[The man looks around him, and then realizes he is held up only by the meagre flotation provided by the balloon.  He falls, with the fan making his tie flap and the balloon, still clutched in his hand, flaps about, and then flies from his hand.]

 

[Lights out.]

 

THE NARRATORb:

But what if Mother Nature hasn’t made a mistake?  What if being miserable is precisely what makes our species successful?

 

MUSIC: Pescatori de Perli 3:52; Thomas Tallis – Lamentations I 8:59

 

VIDEO: downtown skyline, clouds, scrolling past as the guy falls


5. THE INVENTION OF IMAGINATION

[It’s night in the cave.  Adam is asleep stage right.  He snores quietly.]

THE NARRATORa:

It is night in the cave.  The tribe is asleep, tucked away snug in their ample body hair. 

 

But there is one who cannot sleep.  She can smell something strange in the wind – something marvelous is about to happen.  Something marvelous, and something dreadful. 

[Enter Eve, sneaking from the depths of the cave, where Gog had dragged her.  She peers back to make sure he’s asleep, and we hear him snoring.  She sniffs her way in the dark, looking for Adam; she finds him, and prods him gently (and then more vigorously) to wake him up.  He wakes up, and stands, frightened – he’s worried about Gog.  He goes to see if he’s coming (we hear snoring), and then crosses to stage left to be as far away from Eve as possible.  He gestures for her to leave, and then goes back to sleep, covering his eyes with his hair.]

[Eve goes to him and prods him again; this time he gets snippy about it, shooing her away.]

 

[Eve goes to stare out at the world from the edge of the stage.  She sings a weird little plaintive song.]

 

[The wind grows more fierce.  A wild gust blows in through the cave mouth.  The fire surges and then goes out.]

 

THE NARRATORb:

The moon is rising over the icy mountains outside.  It casts a feeble light through the cave mouth, creating shadows on the rock wall. 

 

[Weird moonlight fills the cave.  Eve sees her shadow on the rock.  She sees the connection between her movements and the movements of her shadow-self; she tries waving her hands and jumping up and down.  Then, the shadow of a bat – Eve looks around for the real bat, and we see it flapping by.  And then: the shadow of a Monster.  Eve looks around, terrified – but there’s no monster.  The Shadow Monster speaks weirdly, and conjures the shadow of a stark and leafless tree; an apple (which is red, not shadow) grows on a branch.  The Monster offers the apple to Eve’s shadow, who plucks it.  She eats it, and suddenly green leaves grow on the tree; the sun comes out in a blue sky, and the shadow of Adam enters and takes a bite as well.  The shadows embrace.]

[The shadows dissolve into the shape of the Monster, beckoning. It disappears.]

 

[Eve is flabbergasted.  She’s just been the first human in the world to imagine something.  She scampers over to the wall where the shadows were, and touches it, longing.]

 

THE NARRATORc:

The female has just been the first animal in the world to imagine something.  There is a new and squishy thing in her head: she has grown a prefrontal lobe.  The prefrontal lobe is the part of the brain that imagines things; at first, it wasn’t as well integrated into the rest of the brain, so her own thoughts seem like they’re coming from the spirit world.  Now, we are accustomed to imagining things, but early humans were overwhelmed by the power of it.  Somehow dimly she can perceive something existing in some way that does not exist in concrete form, something that has never existed before: a possibility.  And the invention of possibility is about to change absolutely everything. 

 

[She goes to tug at the snoring Adam.  He wakes.]

 

[She sings weirdly to him, but he doesn’t understand a damn thing.  She has an idea: she grabs a burnt stick from the fire, and uses it to draw on the cave wall – this is accomplished by projecting the drawing as she draws it.  She scribbles out a rough version of the tree, with the apple; it’s working!  Adam is grunting as if he understands.  She goes to work furiously, producing a stick figure of herself and Adam holding hands.  She gives them happy faces.]

 

Adam’s excited.  He scampers over to try to eat the apple, but he’s surprised when he runs into the wall.  Eve is slightly exasperated; she tromps over to the front of the stage, and beckons to him.  She wants to leave with him to go find her Paradise.]

THE NARRATORd:

What exactly has she seen in her vision?  Perhaps, somewhere deep in her bones, she still remembers the warm sun and fertile trees of Africa.  She wants to go home.   

 

VIDEO: animated segment #1: shadow Eden, Eve drawing

 

 


6. A WORLD OF WONDERS

 

THE NARRATOR:

With the invention of possibility, humanity is freed from the bonds of reality.  The world is not how it is, anymore; the world can change, to be different, to be better. A round rock can become a wheel; a tree can become a house; a law can be written, and a map can be drawn of Heaven.  We can thank the prefrontal lobe for the world of wonders we inhabit today.  Now, humankind is master of his domain!

 

[A city curb.  A car drives in and parks – it’s one of those little cars you give to kids to paddle around in, with a puppet driving it.  A guy in a black leather turtlenecked unisuit and thick-rimmed glasses (a German existentialist) is driving it; he’s got thumping music playing on the stereo.  He drives in, and parks, turns off his car (the stereo cuts out) and gets out.  He pauses to activate the car alarm with his keychain, so it goes bloop-bloop.]

[Next, another car; driven by an ancient lady in floral dress and cardigan, wearing a Bluetooth receiver on her ear; she’s prattling away as she parks, gets out of the car, walks away, boo-bloop.]

[The two cars are parked so that there’s almost, but not quite, enough room for a car to parallel park in between them.]

[Enter a guy dressed as a clown in a jalopy.  His car is full of the happy-face balloons he sells at the Zoo.]

[He sees the parking spot, turns on his blinker, and tries to get into it.  It’s almost impossible.  He backs in, doesn’t quite make it, pulls back out, tries again, fails, tries again, fails, as his ability to contain his frustration mounts.  Somebody somewhere behind him starts to honk.  Finally he bumps into one of the other cars, and the car alarm goes off, and even so is still parked shittily.  He freaks right out, getting tangled in his balloons.  He’s banging his head against the steering wheel when suddenly the guy who fell from the ledge lands on the clown’s car (from a drop-box in the grid).]

 

[The clown drives away.  Lights down, while puppeteers clear the remaining cars.]

[The balloon floats in, and finds the man’s corpse.  It huddles sadly next to him.]

 

MUSIC: Thump-Thump; Carmen Miranda – Tico-tico no Fubá 2:37

 

VIDEO: traffic
7. ESCAPE FROM THE REAL WORLD

 

[Adam and Eve stand in their positions from the scene before – Adam by the wall, confused, and Eve, beckoning for them to escape.  We hear a gigantic roar from offstage.  Enter Gog, angry that they are trying to escape.  He goes to grab Eve, and drag her back to the depths of the cave.]

THE NARRATORa:

The imagination is a significant evolutionary advantage. But the brute strength of our animal antecedents is still something to contend with.  The imagination can be a dangerous thing – there’s always going to be a big difference between our dreams,  and what’s real – especially when reality is large and hairy and angry.

 

[Adam leaps to her defense.  Gog is enraged, and attacks Adam.  He brutally bashes him about.  The puppeteers are shrieking like monkeys.  It’s an epic battle, but Adam is severely outmatched.  Gog is gigantic and fierce, and he beats Adam into a heap.  Gog stands behind the fire to roar his victory roar.]

THE NARRATORb:

But we all know how this story ends.  The prefrontal lobe wins the day.  The brute and all his kind will end up caged, obedient, or slaughtered. 

 

[Eve has an idea: crazed music plays, the lights change, and magically a cave drawing is made behind her on the wall, which shows Gog being bonked by a club.  Eve has invented the club.]

 

[Eve finds a club in the fire-pit, and she clobbers Gog from behind; he falls into the fire.  The flames leap up, and he screams as he is burned – this we accomplish by having Gog stand against the projection screen, with flames projected behind him.  The whole stage is filled smoke; as the flames on the screen grow more ferocious, Eve runs to carry Adam, insensate, from the cave.  They exit, and the puppeteer manipulating Gog sneaks out, so that when the stage is clear, we see Gog’s charred remains projected amongst the flames.]

THE NARRATORc:

But is it the weapon that wins the war, or the dream? 

 

[The charred remains crumble.]

MUSIC: Liszt: Totentanz

 

VIDEO: flames consuming the cave, Gog’s charred remains
8. THE INSATIABLE BRAIN

 

THE NARRATORa:

So dreaming is our chief evolutionary advantage.  But what makes us strive to achieve our dream?  Why not just imagine something beautiful, and leave it at that?  An animal that laid around dreaming all day would surely starve.  So our brain secretes a neurochemical that makes us long for the dream to be real – to feel like we’ll only be happy if we have what we want.  We’re not designed for happiness.  We’re designed to be eternally, insatiably, dissatisfied.

 

[A balloon factory: a machine, a table, a conveyor belt, leading to a box with a big happy face on it.  A forlorn woman in coveralls stands behind the table.  The machine rumbles and smokes and pushes out an inflated balloon.  The woman gets it and draws on a happy face, then deflates it, puts it on the conveyor belt, cranks the conveyor belt, which deposits the deflated balloon into the waiting box.  Another balloon, draw, deflate, crank, drop; and then another.  She’s not fast enough, though, so the balloons start to pop out before she’s done, and the machine is getting faster, too.  Balloons are firing at her as she frantically stamps and deflates, and balloons start to pile up and float off into the audience and cause chaos.]

[Finally a buzzer sounds, indicating the end of the shift.  The woman stops working, and sighs.  She exits, just as an identical puppet enters from the other side of the stage.  The buzzer goes again, and the machine starts up again. The projector shows a video of the same scene – an identical woman standing ready at the machine.  The image multiplies and multiplies like that trick with two mirrors until there are millions of identical women standing by their machines (that is, we’ve filmed the scene beforehand).  A million balloons extrude from a million machines.  Fade to darkness.]

THE NARRATORb:

 But there is no mechanism in our brain that says ‘enough.’

MUSIC: Orkest zonder naam – Als na regen de zon schijnt 3:05

VIDEO: millions of balloon factory workers

END OF ACT ONE

(except there’s no intermission)

 


ACT TWO: Outside the Cave

 

9. THE DECEPTION OF THE IMAGINATION

[The world outside the cave: snow blows and cold winds howl.]

 

THE NARRATOR:

Our heroes have escaped the cave.  But where’s the warm sun and trees and delicious fruit?  This is no Paradise!  What have they done?  Is it possible that the prefrontal lobe has been… lying?

 

[Our heroes are cold and desperately hungry.  Eve is disappointed to discover that there are no fruits handily hanging as was promised by the vision.]

[Huge booming steps are heard from offstage.  Enter the Mastodon, which is gigantic.  Adam and Eve cower as it passes, and finally exits.]

THE NARRATOR:

In fact, it has been.  The prefrontal lobe is designed to make you strive, but never achieve.  It’s not important, from Mother Nature’s perspective, if the dream can ever be real; in fact, the more preposterous the dream, the better. 

[Eve has another idea: a cave drawing of Adam killing the Mastodon with a spear magically appears in the sky.]

[Eve scampers over to the fire pit, where she whittles away out of view.  She produces a spear, and hands it to Adam.  Adam doesn’t understand what it’s for; he tries to eat it, but it’s not very tasty.  Eve pushes him to go kill the Mastodon, and he reluctantly goes off in search of it.  Just as he leaves, he tosses the spear away, and then makes a show of how he’s going to attack it with his bare hands.]

[Exit Adam in search of the Mastodon.  The sound of him attacking it, from off; a terrible trumpet; enter Adam at speed, chased by the Mastodon.  They circle the stage and then chase off.]

[Enter a smaller version of both puppets, chasing along a prong-hilltop that leads to a cliff.  Adam is screaming.  The Mastodon bowls Adam over but then can’t stop itself from plummeting over the cliff to land with an ugly crunch below.]

[The Mastodon is still alive, groaning; Adam runs off, and returns pushing a huge rock.  He struggles with it, slowly approaching the cliff edge, as the Mastodon groans.  Finally he reaches the cliff edge, and pushes off the rock, which misses the Mastodon completely.  He scampers back, and climbs his way down to the Mastodon.  He heaves the rock above his head, and drops it on the Mastodon, which stops groaning… but then starts groaning again.  Adam bashes it again; still not dead.  And again, and again, and again.  Finally it dies.]

 

[Cross-fade to Eve, full-size, waiting anxiously by the fire she’s made.  Enter Adam, full size, dragging a huge haunch, heroically.  Eve is delighted and impressed.  They heave it onto the fire, and are about to feast – but they hear horrible howls and barking.]

[Enter four Dire Wolves (which are jawbones held upside-down to look like snouts, draped in fur to make their bodies), who growl and threaten and surround them; they must escape, and leave their hunk of meat.]

 

THE NARRATOR:

What makes our species thrive is that we struggle our whole lives, trying to reach a mirage that is forever further & further away.

 

VIDEO: snow
10. THE HIDEOUS TRUTH

 

[The balloon’s POV, projected; maybe from within the balloon, so we see its smiley face.  Earth, receding.  The balloon spins, and now sees outer space; in the distance we can see other balloons floating away into the heavens.  Now it sees the moon, and approaches it – we can make out some kind of sci-fi cave entrance gate, if that makes sense.]

THE NARRATOR:

There’s a wasp that makes zombie cockroaches.  It burrows its way inside the head of the cockroach, and commandeers its simple neurons, so it can make it go the direction the wasp wants.  The wasp wants to get the cockroach home, so the wasp babies have something to eat when they hatch inside it.  That’s really scary, but it’s kind of what the prefrontal lobe has done to us.  We used to be simple beasts, minding our own business, and now something heartless is using us to feed itself, and to reproduce.  And we’ll do anything for our prefrontal lobe… even die. 

 

[The video fades to black, and now we are in the moon-cave.  On the projection surface we see one of those screens like the one on the bridge of the Enterprise, where you can see out onto the surface of the moon, but also get transmissions from people sending transmissions.]

[Enter the balloon, floating with strange purpose.  Another couple balloons appear, and then a bunch of them (these are attached to a clever helmet and shoulder-pad contraption worn by one of the puppeteers).  The balloons hover about, communicating with each other with weird balloon squeaks.]

[The screen flickers, and there is a short burst of pan-flute music: it’s a transmission from their leader, MoonLord Zamfir (who is green, has eyes on stalks, and wears a silver space-suit – he’s gigantic in the screen).  The balloons scamper into formation, and bow, chanting.]

MOONLORD ZAMFIRa:

Excellent, my minions.

More and more earthlings have succumbed to our control.  Soon our invasion will be complete!  Ha ha ha ha ha!

[One of the balloons floats up from the crowd.  It squeaks something.]

BALLOON:

But maybe we should be nice to the humans…?

MOONLORD ZAMFIRb:

No!  We will never show the earthlings mercy!  I do not tolerate insubordination.  Seize him!

[The balloons gently float over to the one that spoke, and bump up against him.]

[Enter MoonLord Zamfir in his space chair.  He’s actually tiny.  He drives over to the disobedient balloon, and pops him with a Hyper Deflator.]

MOONLORD ZAMFIRc:

Have this scum thrown out with the space garbage.  Now go, my minions!  Go forth and conquer!

 

  [Stage goes dark; back to video: and now the moon recedes, for the balloon is falling back to Earth as it deflates.]

 

MUSIC: Mass in G. 5. Benedictus 4:12

 

VIDEO: animated segment #2 the balloon’s trip to the moon (and back)
11. HAUNTED

 

[Night-time.  They huddle for warmth.  Their bellies rumble. Our heroes are miserable.]

THE NARRATOR:

And now there is no return.  Our heroes are lost in the howling wastes, with nothing to eat, and the cold is merciless.  Without food, without shelter, they cannot rest.  They must trudge ever onward, though the promised paradise grows more distant with each faltering step.

[Adam is angry that they left.  He sees visions of Gog moving in the fog (projector), and believes they are haunted by Gog’s ghost.  He barks and grumbles at Eve, and they begin to smack each other and growl – when suddenly they discover that she is pregnant.  Of course they don’t understand why this happens, but they recognize that something miraculous is occurring.]

 

[Adam is delighted, and ashamed of himself for being angry.  They draw strength by singing a warbling duet, and press on.  They exit.]

 

[Way offstage we see Adam and Eve, in miniature, trudging.  The puppets are held like ice axes, and the puppeteer grunts and wheezes as he pulls himself along the floor with them, as if he is climbing a frozen horizontal waterfall along the floor.  A puppeteer lays out a big whitish fur rug, as the puppeteer working Adam and Eve crawls towards it; it looks like a miniature snow-covered hill.  This is all videoed live from a tiny invisible camera, and projected, so that it looks on the screen like they are on a vast tundra.  Finally they arrive at a tree – it’s the same tree from Eve’s visions, except that it’s barren and bleak.]

THE NARRATOR:

But they no longer have the strength to continue.  The invention of the imagination is also the invention… of despair.

[They collapse, unable to continue.]

VIDEO: Gog’s ghost in the fog, blizzard
12. THE INVENTION OF HEAVEN

THE NARRATOR:

Home is a half-remembered dream.  The only rest is the final rest.  Life is suffering, because we have been cursed by our own evolutionary success. If you don’t believe me, let’s try an experiment, right now.   Just for a moment, let’s all  be in complete acceptance of the perfection of the universe.  Ok? Nothing could possibly be better.  This is the best moment of your life.

 

[The theatre is dark.  A huge happy face appears on the screen.]

 

THE NARRATOR:

You probably don’t think this is the best moment of your life.  Just a guess.  You’re still imagining a better world, one with more comfortable theatre seating, or bar service while you watch.  You’re wondering what’s on another channel.  But here’s the weirdest thing: this actually is the best moment of your life.  Every moment is the best moment of your life.

 

A cloudy day.  The balloon falls from the sky, shriveled, and lands limply on the ground.]

[An old man approaches, shuffling.  He’s wearing a nametag that says ‘if lost, call this number.’  He’s dressed in a housecoat and slippers, and his hair is askew.  He shuffles painfully slowly up to the balloon, and discovers it.  He bends over, creaking, and picks it up.  He looks at it, and for a moment we see an old 8mm film of him as a boy at the zoo with a happy face balloon.  It flickers like a projector at the end of the roll, and then is gone.]

[The old man painstakingly puts the balloon back on the sand, and then continues on his way.  He gets partly across the stage, when we hear from off somebody calling for him: Mr. Kowalchuk!  Mr. Kowalchuk!  He grunts and turns back around, to escape the nurse who’s looking for him.  Of course his escape is hopeless, since he’s so absurdly slow.  But he comes upon the balloon again, and discovers it as if for the first time.  He’s breathing hard, though, from his exertions.  He picks it up, and the film plays again.]

[He has a heart attack, and dies.]

[The film continues to play.  The boy lets the balloon go, and we watch as it floats off into the sky.]

MUSIC: The Last Rose of Summer 2:53

 

VIDEO: 8mm film of boy with balloon, grey sky or rain, maybe the beach
13. THE BIRTH OF HAPPINESS

 

[A pile of snow (accomplished using the tundra rug from before).  It rustles, and Adam emerges from beneath it.  He finds Eve’s insensate body next to him, and clears the snow.  He tries to wake her, but she will not revive.  She moans softly – at least she’s alive.]

 

THE NARRATOR:

But what if happiness isn’t actually the point?  Could it be that we’re meant for more than mere contentment?  What if the pursuit of happiness upon which our entire society is based is both hopeless and… shallow?

 

[And now from the shadows the Shadow Monster emerges, speaking weirdly like before in the cave.  It is a scary creature made of bones, with flames flickering in its eye-sockets.]

[Adam sees it, and runs away to hide.  The Monster slithers in, sniffing and whispering, and it is about to eat poor insensate Eve, when Adam shrieks at it – he’s trying to distract the Monster.]

[The Monster hisses, and now it means to eat Adam.  They circle the firepit; Adam attacks, but the Monster strikes, and clenches its jaws around Adam’s belly; Adam screams, and when the Monster withdraws we see that he has been horribly mangled (the puppeteer has produced a scrap of leather painted red from within his sleeve, which looks like a wound).  Adam staggers away, groaning; the Monster hisses triumphantly.]

[He has an idea.  He’s never had an idea of his own before.  A magical cave-drawing appears in the clouds behind him, of the spear flying through the air to kill the Monster.  He picks up the spear, and he throws it!  A puppeteer makes it look like it’s flying through the air, and then like it has lodged in the Monster’s belly; the Monster shrieks, and staggers off, dying.  The Monster has been vanquished!]

 

[But Adam is mortally wounded.  He staggers over to Eve, and collapses next to her.  He dies.]

[She awakes, and (not realizing he is dead) pokes at him.  He doesn’t awake; she realizes he is dead, and weeps.  Her weeping turns to sniffing, and then a lick; she pulls the red leather from Adam’s body, and eats him, singing her plaintive song.]

 

 [And then, suddenly, with the new nourishment, Eve has a contraction.  And then another.  And another.]

 

[She scrambles to get into position, and (as the puppeteers grunt and shriek in support) she begins to give birth to a wrinkled thing… it begins to glow, and expand, and we slowly realize that it is a celestial happy-face balloon, glowing from within, looking like the moon.  It gets bigger and bigger and then absurdly big.]

THE NARRATOR:

What if there’s more than bliss that awaits us?

 

[The three puppeteers gather around the glowing orb in wonder.]

 

[Hopeful music plays.]

MUSIC: Purcell Ode. 2 Welcome to all the pleasures 0:42

 

 

 

 

 

The End.

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scotlandfuturebog

This is genius.  Not sure what it means.  But it’s genius.

http://www.kahnselesnick.com/sf_bog/klee.htm

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The latest version of the script

Folks, we’ve had a hell of a time trying to nail down the narrator’s speeches.  Even still, I’m not sure this is working, but at least through rehearsals we’re learning what’s not working… that’s a step forward at least.  (By the way — we’re rehearsing.  We’re about halfway through the rough blocking of it, and so far so good.  Although the show doesn’t actually open until March 1st, we’re doing a workshop of the show at the Banff Centre, who are being kind enough to lend us the use of their theatre for a couple weeks so we can try out the lights and video and proper sound, all of which we don’t have in our own shop.)

Here it is, anyway.  If anybody’s got any better ideas, now would be a really good moment to tell us.

Or: wait a few days, and we’ll probably have a new one.  Things are changing every day. God help us all.

ACT ONE: Inside the Cave

1. PROLOGUE

 

[The stage is dark.  We hear wind whistling, and dripping water.  We wait for awhile, and then hear a distant drum booming, approaching; soon we can make out a kind of moaning song and the occasional mournful groan of some tusk trumpet being played.  Three shaggy characters enter, wearing furs and ornamented with peculiar artifacts: fetishes made of bone and twigs.   They are burdened by an enormous & crusty old mastodon tusk – one carries the end, while another blows through it, producing the afore-mentioned mournful groans.  The third bears a flickering torch that provides a dim light, by which we can make out their sloped brows and heavy shoulders.  They go about their business as the narrator speaks: they light a big fire in the middle of the stage, with great ceremony, for in their minds they are enacting the birth of the universe; they shuffle about, saying preparatory prayers to their heathen gods.]

 

THE NARRATOR:

It’s many thousands of years ago.  The ice age has driven our primitive ancestors into caves, where they huddle for warmth and companionship.  Outside the cave, an eternal winter howls, and unspeakable monsters lurk with grotesquely enlarged fangs.  The tribe has gathered around a sputtering fire, and the air is thick with smoke and body odour.  The people in this dank grotto are the only people in the entire world, as far as they know.

 

Somewhere in their grapefruit-sized brains there dimly glimmers a growing suspicion: that something has gone horribly wrong.  Deep in their bones they dimly remember the old days, when life was easy; they remember living in trees, eating plump fruits under the warm sun, and having more hair.  Now they are stranded in a cruel world, and they’re far, far from home.

 

The tribal elders have called their slope-browed brethren together to quiet their fears.  They’ll tell them a story, to make them feel better; to explain their suffering, and give them hope for the future.  It’s the story of the birth of a new kind of human.  It’s the story of how to find their way home again.

 

 These are our ancestors.  Welcome to the Age of Ignorance.

 

[They enact the creation of a prehistoric Adam: one of them begins to moan like he’s having labour pains.  The others scamper over in concern and excitement.  The one giving birth holds two goat bladders to his chest to look like leathery breasts.  Another holds antlers behind his head so that he looks like a deranged deer-human mother creature: Big Mama.  The labour pains grow frantic – as Big Mama groans, the rest of the tribe echoes (that is, over the sound system), and the third puppeteer extrudes a puppet from between Big Mama’s legs.]

[The puppet lies on the ground.  They dance in joy, and one of the puppeteers picks it up and holds it to one of Big Mama’s teats so it can suckle.  They coo at the baby in delight.]

VIDEO: cave wall, embers flying up

MUSIC: Grunt Grunt; NIKOLAI – Merry Wives of Windsor

 


2. THE ETERNAL ELUSIVENESS OF HAPPINESS

 

THE NARRATOR:

So many thousands of years later, how far have we come?  We have caged those fearsome beasts that used to haunt our dreams.  We have forced our own unruly natures into submission.  But have we found our way to Paradise? Are we happy? 

 

Most people would tell you that happiness is the point of life; it’s the reason we do anything at all.  And yet, most people experience only occasional whiffs of contentment, and a surprising number of us are altogether miserable; in fact, by the time this show is over, fourteen people will have jumped off of bridges in North America alone, and twice that number in Finland, where they don’t even have that many bridges.  Why is happiness for the human animal so elusive?

 

[A modern child stands before us.  Enter his father – an enormous pair of legs, since he’s being seen from the kid’s eye-level.  Behind them is projected the zoo they’re visiting.  The kid is amazed by the animals in the projection, and he’s making up gibberish names for them excitedly and full of awe.  He names one, and then tugs his father’s pant leg to share the wonder.  Dad is busy, and we hear him mumble vaguely and distractedly in response.  The kid becomes anxious for attention from Dad, and tugs harder, showing him more extravagantly the wonders around them.  Finally he gives up, and tries crying.  Dad grunts, annoyed.]

[Perhaps we see the clown with his balloons go by in the projection.  Dad wanders off, leaving the kid for a moment; the kid stops crying, wondering what’s happening; when Dad returns he redoubles his wailing.  Dad’s enormous hand offers the kid a Happy Face Balloon on a string (in fact, it’s on a wire, so we can make the balloon look like it’s full of helium even though it’s not).]

[The kid takes the balloon, and Dad goes back to ignoring him.  The kid plays with the balloon a bit, kind of pleased, but also a bit nonplussed by being bought off.  He notes that it floats, and looks up into the sky.  He lets the balloon go, and watches in wonder as it floats away.]

[But then he realizes that his balloon is gone.  The kid begins to cry again.]

 

 

MUSIC: Polyphon Donauwalze 0:58 (too short – could be repeated)

 

VIDEO: the zoo.


3. FIGHT OR FLIGHT

[The puppeteers bring forth ugly little bat puppets made from soot-blackened leather and teeth tied to branches, and make them flap about like it’s a Disney movie; Adam is delighted, and he coos at them.  Then he realizes that he’s hungry, and tries to catch the bats to eat them.]

THE NARRATOR:

We modern humans have got everything we could possibly need.  Life in the caves is not nearly so pleasant.  Even food can be hard to come by.  Our hero is very hungry.  But he can’t seem to catch those bats – they can fly, and he’s stuck there on the ground.  Perhaps a sightless cave-grub will make a tasty meal?

[Adam discovers a sightless cave-grub inching along one of the prongs, and tries to sneak up on it; it squirts him with some revolting bug-juice.]

THE NARRATOR:

It doesn’t look like it.  What about those sabre-toothed cave-rats? 

[Enter two sabre-toothed cave-rats, which are puppets made of the skins of real sabre-toothed rats worn as slippers.  Adam chases them but they are too fast; he chases them around the fire but they escape, even though he doesn’t realize it, and he keeps running around the fire until they squeak at him mockingly.]

 

[He can’t catch anything at all.]

 

THE NARRATOR:

No luck.  Poor fellow!

 

 [Adam whines mournfully.  Enter Eve, another puppet, snuffling and grubbing about.]

THE NARRATOR:

But he’s not alone!  A shapely female has appeared.  That ought to brighten his day! 

 

[They see each other, and are initially suspicious.  Soon, though, they approach each other.  They share in a touching scene of first love.]

 

THE NARRATOR:

(whispering)

Uh oh… what’s this?  Another problem.  It looks like an old alpha male.  And he doesn’t look like he wants to be friends… with another male, at least. 

 

[Big booming drumbeats and howling interrupt them.  They panic, and scamper to hide.  Enter King Gog, the alpha male of the tribe; he is huge and primitive, closer to ape than Adam and Eve; the puppet looks like a big boulder strapped to the puppeteer’s belly. He is dragging the half-eaten carcass of a sightless cave-fish.]

 [King Gog pounds his chest and bellows, for he has brought dinner for Eve.  He hurls the carcass to the ground, and plucks a bit of something nasty from the fish’s skull, and shoves it towards Eve to eat.  She gobbles at it on the floor.]

[Adam creeps up to try to have a bite, but Gog swats him away.  Gog is pleased with himself, and feeling amorous; he grabs Eve by her ample body hair, and begins to drag her off; Adam shrieks and waves his arms to try to stop him, but Gog roars a terrible roar (assisted by the sound system), and Adam is cowed.]

THE NARRATOR:

He’s not going to argue with that!  His instincts serve him well – he knows when to fight, and when to flee.

[Exit Gog, dragging Eve, who reaches out to Adam as they go.  Adam is too scared to reach back.]

[He shuffles mournfully to centre-stage, and then spots the cave-grub again; he goes to try to befriend it, but it squirts him again.]

 

VIDEO: cave wall

 

 


4. MOTHER NATURE’S MISTAKE

 

THE NARRATOR:

Fleeing when there’s trouble is a good evolutionary strategy – it keeps our species alive and reproducing.  But feeling miserable doesn’t seem like a very good evolutionary strategy.  How could it be good for our species if some of us are so miserable we want to die?  Shouldn’t that gene have been erased long ago?  Mother Nature seems to have made a mistake!

 

[The projector shows a downtown skyline.  A puppeteer brings out a building with a window with a ledge – we’re high up.  Another puppeteer brings out a big industrial fan, which sits on the floor below the ledge.  Two pigeons bobble on the roof.]

[A man can be seen behind the window; he opens the window, and looks out.  He has tear-stained cheeks.  He produces some papers (accounting or something) and tears them up and throws them out the window (they scatter in the fan’s wind, out into the audience).]

  [He steps out onto the ledge; wind makes him sway dangerously. The man looks down off the ledge; traffic noise from below.  He’s not totally sure he wants to jump; after awhile of working himself up, he almost does it, but changes his mind at the last minute, and starts to climb back through the window; but then depression overwhelms him again, and back to the ledge he goes.  He stares down at the traffic, and weeps, and gets ready to jump again, takes a deep breath, changes his mind, thinks about going back in, changes his mind, ponders his misery, steps to the edge, takes a deep breath, when the Happy Face Balloon from before floats by.  He brightens, wiping away his tears, and reaches for the balloon; he manages to catch it, and floats up into the sky – the building rolls back where it came from, and now the video screen shows clouds.]

[The man looks around him, and then realizes he is held up only by the meagre flotation provided by the balloon.  He falls, with the fan making his tie flap and the balloon, still clutched in his hand, bobble around.]

 

[Lights out.]

 

THE NARRATOR:

But what if Mother Nature hasn’t made a mistake?  What if being miserable is precisely what makes our species successful? (ahead of the game?)

 

 

MUSIC: Pescatori de Perli 3:52

 

VIDEO: downtown skyline, clouds, scrolling past as the guy falls


5. THE INVENTION OF IMAGINATION

[It’s night in the cave.  The fire is embers.  Adam is asleep stage right.  He snores quietly.]

[Enter Eve, sneaking from the depths of the cave, where Gog had dragged her.  She peers back to make sure he’s asleep, and we hear him snoring.  She sniffs her way in the dark, looking for Adam; she finds him, and prods him gently (and then more vigorously) to wake him up.  He wakes up, and stands, frightened – he’s worried about Gog.  He goes to see if he’s coming (we hear snoring), and then crosses to stage left to be as far away from Eve as possible.  He gestures for her to leave, and then goes back to sleep, covering his eyes with his hair.]

[Eve goes to him and prods him again; this time he gets snippy about it, shooing her away.]

 

[Eve goes to stare out at the world from the edge of the stage.  She sings a weird little plaintive song.]

 

[The wind grows more fierce.  A wild gust blows in through the cave mouth.  The fire surges and then goes out.]

 

[Weird moonlight fills the cave.  Eve sees her shadow on the rock.  She sees the connection between her movements and the movements of her shadow-self; she tries waving her hands and jumping up and down.  Then, the shadow of a bat – Eve looks around for the real bat, and we see it flapping by.  And then: the shadow of a Monster.  Eve looks around, terrified – but there’s no monster.  The Shadow Monster speaks weirdly, and conjures the shadow of a stark and leafless tree; an apple (which is red, not shadow) grows on a branch.  The Monster offers the apple to Eve’s shadow, who plucks it.  She eats it, and suddenly green leaves grow on the tree; the sun comes out in a blue sky, and the shadow of Adam enters and takes a bite as well.  The shadows kiss.]

[The shadows dissolve into the shape of the Monster, beckoning. It disappears.]

 

[Eve is flabbergasted.  She’s just been the first human in the world to imagine something.  She scampers over to the wall where the shadows were, and touches it, longing.]

[She goes to tug at the snoring Adam.  He wakes.]

THE NARRATOR:

Over the course of many millennia, we grew a new chunk of brain that animals don’t really have so much of.  It’s called the prefrontal lobe, and it’s the part of the brain that imagines things.  At first, it was not as well integrated into the rest of the brain, and even still it can become disconnected.  When it’s not so well connected, your own thoughts seem like they’re coming from somebody else that you can’t see, which is why our ancestors believed there were spirits in their midst.  Now, we are accustomed to imagining things, but early humans were overwhelmed by the power of it.  A vision would appear inside their head, and somehow dimly they could perceive something existing in some way that did not exist in concrete form before them, something that had never existed before: a possibility.  And the invention of possibility changed absolutely everything.

 

[She sings weirdly to him, but he doesn’t understand a damn thing.  She draws on the cave wall – this is accomplished by projecting the drawing as she draws it.  She scribbles out a rough circle, and then a stick body.  It’s her.  Then she draws one of Adam, and draws their hands holding; then she draws eyes and happy mouths on them.]

[Adam doesn’t understand.]

[Now she draws the tree with the apple.  When Adam sees the apple, he scampers over to try to eat it, but he’s surprised when he runs into the wall.  She scampers over to the front of the stage, and beckons to him.  She wants to leave with him to go find her Paradise.]

[But from the depths of the cave we hear Gog awake.  He roars!]

 

VIDEO: animated segment #1: shadow Eden, Eve drawing

 

MUSIC: a bit of Liszt: Totentanz

 


6. A PERFECT WORLD

 

THE NARRATOR:

With the invention of possibility, humanity is freed from the bonds of reality.  The world is not how it is, anymore; the world can change, to be different, to be better.  The prefrontal lobe enables the entirety of human civilization.  A round rock can become a wheel; a tree can become a house; a law can be written, and a map can be drawn of Heaven.  In our minds, everything is perfect.

 

[A city curb.  A car drives in and parks – it’s one of those little cars you give to kids to paddle around in, with a puppet driving it.  A guy’s driving it; it’s got thumping music playing on the stereo.  He drives in, and parks, turns off his car (the stereo cuts out) and gets out.  He pauses to activate the car alarm with his keychain, so it goes bloop-bloop.]

[Next, another car; driven by a lady wearing a Bluetooth receiver on her ear; she’s prattling away as she parks, gets out of the car, walks away, boo-bloop.]

[The two cars are parked so that there’s almost, but not quite, enough room for a car to parallel park in between them.]

[Enter a guy dressed as a clown in a jalopy.  His car is full of the happy-face balloons he sells at the Zoo.]

[He sees the parking spot, turns on his blinker, and tries to get into it.  It’s almost impossible.  He backs in, doesn’t quite make it, pulls back out, tries again, fails, tries again, fails, as his ability to contain his frustration mounts.  Somebody somewhere behind him starts to honk.  Finally he bumps into one of the other cars, and the car alarm goes off, and even so is still parked shittily.  He freaks right out, getting tangled in his balloons.  He’s banging his head against the steering wheel when suddenly the guy who fell from the ledge lands on the clown’s car (from a drop-box in the grid).  He’s still holding the balloon… he lets it go, and it floats away.]

 

 

 

MUSIC: Thump-Thump; Carmen Miranda – Tico-tico no Fubá 2:37

 

VIDEO: maybe images of apes roaring and pounding their chests
7. ESCAPE FROM THE REAL WORLD

 

[Enter Gog, roaring.  They scramble to hide, covering their genitals with the old leaves and twigs that are strewn about the cave-floor.]

[Gog is enraged, and attacks Adam.  He picks him up and hurls him about.  The puppeteers are shrieking like monkeys.  It’s an epic battle, but Adam is severely outmatched.  Gog is gigantic and fierce, and it’s evident that Adam is about to get killed.]

THE NARRATOR:

It looks like the prefrontal lobe has gotten our heroes into trouble.  It’s one thing to imagine a perfect world; it’s another to get there.  The real world isn’t as easy to change as we might like.

 

[Eve jumps out and pushes Gog into the fire.  The flames leap up, and he screams as he is burned – this we accomplish by having Gog stand against the projection screen, with flames projected onto him.  The whole stage is filled smoke; the other tribe members run around shrieking as the flames on the screen grow more ferocious, and Gog making more and more pitiful shrieks.]

[Meanwhile, Adam and Eve escape the cave – by clambering over the prongs of the set, probably.]

[The flames burn down, and we see Gog’s charred remains projected (the puppet itself has snuck offstage).  They crumble.]

MUSIC: Liszt: Totentanz

 

VIDEO: flames consuming the cave, Gog’s charred remains
8. THE INSATIABLE BRAIN

 

THE NARRATOR:

The way the brain works is simple.  It excretes a neurochemical reward when we’re doing what we’re designed to do.  That chemical is what we call happiness.  An animal gets that reward for things like eating, or humping another animal.  But what are we designed to do?  We’re designed to imagine something better.  But we don’t get the neurochemical cookie for just imagining it; our prefrontal lobe promises us a cookie for actually achieving it.  Until then, you’re going to be miserable.

 

And the truth is, your prefrontal lobe has been lying to you about how happy you’d be.  Your brain is built to be insatiable.  That’s our evolutionary advantage: constant dissatisfaction.

 

[A balloon factory: a machine, a table, a conveyor belt, leading to a box with a big happy face on it.  A forlorn woman in coveralls stands behind the table.  The machine rumbles and smokes and pushes out an inflated balloon.  The woman gets it and stamps on a happy face, then deflates it, puts it on the conveyor belt, cranks the conveyor belt, which deposits the deflated balloon into the waiting box.  Another balloon, stamp, deflate, crank, drop; and then another.  She’s not fast enough, though, so the balloons start to pop out before she’s done, and the machine is getting faster, too.  Balloons are firing at her as she frantically stamps and deflates, and balloons start to pile up and float off into the audience and cause chaos.]

[The projector shows a video of the same scene – an identical woman doing the identical task.  The image multiplies and multiplies like that trick with two mirrors until there are millions of identical women and puppeteers doing the same task (that is, we’ve filmed the scene beforehand).  Finally a buzzer sounds, indicating the end of the shift.  The image dissolves.  The woman stops working, and sighs.  She exits, just as an identical puppet enters from the other side of the stage.  The buzzer goes again, and a balloon extrudes from the machine.  Fade to darkness.]

MUSIC: De Heikrekels – Lieve meid heb je vanavond tijd 3:06

Or

Orkest zonder naam – Als na regen de zon schijnt 3:05

VIDEO: millions of balloon factory workers

END OF ACT ONE

(except there’s no intermission)

 


ACT TWO: Outside the Cave

 

9. THE DECEPTION OF THE IMAGINATION

[The world outside the cave: snow blows and cold winds howl.]

 

THE NARRATOR:

Our heroes have escaped the cave.  But it’s no Paradise.  What have they done?  Where’s the warm sun and trees and delicious fruit?  

 

[Our heroes are cold and desperately hungry.  Eve is disappointed to discover that there are no fruits handily hanging as was promised by the vision.  Adam manfully waves his arms around, roaring a little like Gog, and makes a display of his intention to find something and kill it – of course, his experience of such things is limited to cave rats (which he actually never managed to catch), so he is preparing to confront a little creature.]

[Rumbling from without – Adam readying himself.  Enter a Mastodon, which is enormous, not tiny (this is slightly funny, maybe – probably not).  It lumbers onto the stage.  Adam is terrified.  Eve encourages him to feel heroic, and sends him forth with his stick.  He goes attack the Mastodon, but it’s hopeless.]

 

[The Mastodon trumpets and charges; it chases Adam out of view.  We now see a smaller version of both puppets, chasing along a rib-hilltop, and then maybe even smaller versions chasing along a more distant hilltop that leads to a cliff (nope, just one set of smaller Adam & Mastodon).  The Mastodon bowls Adam over but then can’t stop itself from plummeting over the cliff to its doom.]

[If we can figure this out: the Mastodon is still alive, groaning; Adam pushes a big rock off the cliff to kill it finally.]

 

[Cross-fade to Eve, full-size, waiting anxiously.  Enter Adam, full size, dragging a huge haunch, heroically.  Eve is delighted and impressed.  They are about to feast – but they hear a horrible howl.]

[Enter four Dire Wolves (which are jawbones held upside-down to look like snouts, draped in fur to make their bodies), who growl and threaten and surround them; they must escape, and leave their hunk of meat.]

 

VIDEO: snow
10. SILENCING THE PREFRONTAL LOBE

 

THE NARRATOR:

Some people say that it’s possible to train your mind to silence the prefrontal lobe.  Through practice, you can empty your mind of its meddlesome prattle, and float up into the great cosmic contentment.  You’ll have to take their word for it, though, because you’re probably too busy to meditate constantly for twenty years. 

There are some drugs that work faster, but only for a short time.  You could also poke around in your brain with a pointy stick; that works for some people.  But reality has a way of intruding when you’re not paying attention.

 

 

[The balloon’s POV, projected; maybe from within the balloon, so we see its smiley face.  Earth, receding.  The balloon spins, and now sees outer space; in the distance we can see other balloons floating away into the heavens.  Now it sees the moon.  The moon gets closer and closer.]

  [Meanwhile, the puppeteers have set up the surface of the moon.  We see an ecstatic Moonling, worshipping the appearance of the balloon.  He experiences enlightenment, just as an enormous Space Monster eats his head.]

  [Back to video: and now the moon recedes, for the balloon is falling back to Earth as it deflates.]

 

MUSIC: Mass in G. 5. Benedictus 4:12

 

VIDEO: animated segment #2 the balloon’s trip to the moon
11. THE MONSTER

THE NARRATOR:

There’s a wasp that makes zombie cockroaches.  It burrows its way inside the head of the cockroach, and commandeers its simple neurons, so it can make it go the direction the wasp wants.  The wasp wants to get the cockroach home, so the wasp babies have something to eat when they hatch inside it.  That’s really scary, but it’s kind of what the prefrontal lobe has done to us.  We used to be simple beasts, minding our own business, and now something heartless is using us to feed itself, and to reproduce.  And we’ll do anything for our prefrontal lobe… even die. 

 

[Night-time.  They huddle for warmth.  Their bellies rumble. Our heroes are miserable – and then the howl again.]

[Adam is angry that they left.  He sees visions of Gog moving in the fog (projector), and believes they are haunted by Gog’s ghost.  He barks and grumbles at Eve, and they begin to smack each other and growl – when suddenly they discover that she is pregnant.  Of course they don’t understand why this happens, but they recognize that something miraculous is occurring.]

 

[Eve sings a plaintive little song that conjures projected images of the paradise she drew in the cave.  They draw strength, and press on in hopes of finding it.]

 

[The weather turns even worse – a puppeteer blows snow (cold ash from the fire) at them; they are growing weaker and weaker; they continue to sing their little song but slowly it runs out.  Finally they come to a desolate place.]

[Eve cannot continue.  She collapses in the snow.  Adam struggles to pull her along, grunting little bits of their song, but he too is exhausted.]

[And now from the shadows the Shadow Monster emerges, speaking weirdly like before in the cave.  It looms large above them, as shadow animations of paradise fading and dissolving play around it; the tree with the fruit of Eve’s dreams turns into a tree strewn with skulls.  We realize that the Monster has lured them out of the cave with the visions, so it can eat them.]

[Adam lunges at it with his pathetic little stick, attempting to block the Monster from seeing Eve, but it’s a hopeless case.  The Monster hisses and attacks, and Adam is caught in its jaws or claws or whatever; he drops the stick, but he keeps fighting desperately, calling to Eve to escape – but Eve circles behind it and spears it with the stick.  The Monster shrieks and thrashes and finally dies.]

 

[Adam is mangled beyond hope, though.  He is dying.  Eve cradles him.  Perhaps she tries to sing their little song, but Adam stops her.  He offers himself to be eaten, and then dies.]

[Eve forlornly eats him.]

VIDEO: Gog’s ghost in the fog, Animated Sequence #3 The Tree of Death, rain, blizzard
12. THE INVENTION OF HEAVEN

THE NARRATOR:

So we believe in a lie told by our own brains, that says that someday we’ll be happy.  But we never get to the end of the story, because we’re not meant to.  We’re designed to be dissatisfied, because that’s our greatest evolutionary advantage, the thing that made us conquer the world.  That means that life is, in some way, by definition, suffering – or having a brain is, anyway.  So we think up an even bigger  story, which says that when we finally die, having never truly ever been really happy, we’ll finally be in Paradise again.  So long as we’ve been good, anyway.  But that’s just another trick of our prefrontal lobe.  There’s no way home, not for us.

A cloudy day at the beach.  The balloon falls from the sky, shriveled, and lands limply in the sand.]

[An old man approaches, shuffling.  He’s wearing a nametag that says ‘if lost, call this number.’  He’s dressed in a housecoat and slippers, and his hair is askew.  He shuffles painfully slowly up to the balloon, and discovers it.  He bends over, creaking, and picks it up.  He looks at it, and for a moment an old photograph of him as a child, happy with a happy face balloon, flickers from the projector, and then is gone.  The old man painstakingly puts the balloon back on the sand, and then continues on his way.  He gets partly across the stage, when we hear from off somebody calling for him: Mr. Kowalchuk!  Mr. Kowalchuk!  He grunts and turns back around, to escape the nurse who’s looking for him.  Of course his escape is hopeless, since he’s so absurdly slow.  But he comes upon the balloon again, and discovers it as if for the first time.  He’s breathing hard, though, from his exertions, and as he picks it up, and the happy photograph flickers in his mind, he has a heart attack and dies.]

MUSIC: The Last Rose of Summer 2:53

 

VIDEO: happy Polaroid, grey sky, beach maybe
14. THE BIRTH OF HAPPINESS

 

THE NARRATOR:

If you don’t believe me, try to sit for a moment in complete acceptance of the perfection of the universe.  Nothing could possibly be better.  This is the best moment of your life.

 

You probably don’t think this is the best moment of your life.  Just a guess.  You’re still imagining a better world, one with more comfortable theatre seating, or bar service while you watch.  You’re wondering what’s on another channel.  But here’s the weirdest thing: this actually is the best moment of your life.  If only we didn’t have such big brains, we would be overthrown every moment with joy.  If only we were still ignorant — then this, right now, would be bliss. 

 

 [And then, suddenly, with the new nourishment, Eve has a contraction.  And then another.  And another.]

[She scrambles to get into position, and (as the puppeteers grunt and shriek in support) she begins to give birth to a wrinkled thing… it begins to glow, and expand, and we slowly realize that it is a celestial happy-face balloon, glowing from within, looking like the moon.  It gets bigger and bigger and then absurdly big.  It’s released, and it floats off into the audience.]

 

[The tribe is content.  The Happy Face balloon floats up into the grid while hopeful music plays.]

MUSIC: Purcell Ode. 2 Welcome to all the pleasures 0:42 (too short – could be repeated)

The End.

Posted in General Thoughts | 5 Comments

Another bit of music that’s great

This one’s for the parallel parking scene.  Carmen Miranda — had no idea how fantastic she is.

Carmen Miranda – Tico-tico no Fubá

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Some music we’ve found

We’ve been digging around on the internet, looking for music we can use for the show (i.e., that’s in the public domain).  There’s heaps out there, and for some reason we’re attracted to old 78′s and Edison cylinders that kind people have uploaded.  They’re dramatic in just the right way for a puppet show somehow.  Here’s one I like a whole lot — we think we might use it for the scene with the guy standing on the ledge, deciding whether or not to jump.  It’s Aristodemo Giorgini, singing Je crois entendre encore from Pêcheurs de perles

Aristodemo_Giorgini_-_Pescatori_di_PerleMi_par_dudir_ancoraPcheurs_de_perlesJe_crois_entendre_encore

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Hideous Purple Tentacle Beast

God help us all — we’re working on the set.  How we’re doing it: first, Riley Miljan (a good egg, Riley) welded up a skeleton, with clever ways to take it apart; then, we covered it in crappy fibre-glass insulation, to bulk it up; then, the fine people of Beyond Foam Insulation came to the shop — they normally spray foam insulation into the walls of buildings, but they sometimes do this kind of thing too.  We covered the shop in plastic sheets, and put on hazmat suits and breathing apparatus, and then their man Jay (champ) sprayed foam all over the thing — did an amazing job.  Next, the horrible part — carving and sanding.  We’ve been living in a cloud of purple dust for days, and we’ve just about had it.  However: we finished that part today.  Next is a hard coat, and then paint.

But!  The fire mechanism is done!  And beautiful.  See its first test run in the last photo below.  (Clunk Puppet Lab has been helping us build things, and their man Jonathan built the fire.  He’s been making his own circuit boards over in a corner of the shop for the past three weeks, and the result is a fire that flickers and grows and dims to embers and smokes and every dang thing a fire does except that this one clears fire code regulations.)


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Animated sequence storyboard

The sequence where Eve sees shadows on the wall and becomes the first human to imagine something is going to be animated and projected, we’re thinking.  We’re teaming up with an animator named Paul Dutton and Calgary’s Quickdraw Animation Society, to produce some animated bits for the show.  In this sequence, Eve sees her shadow on the wall, and then a mysterious shadow monster appears, which entices her out of the cave by conjuring visions of a marvellous world with trees and fruit.  Later in the show, the monster appears as a puppet — the huge cave-bear skull depicted in the post with photos of puppets-in-process will be its head.

We just banged this together as a conversation starter for a meeting with the animation team, so it’s not super-amazingly drawn… that’s a good excuse, anyway.

We fear judgement.

 

 

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Photos of puppets

For the hell of it, here are some pictures of puppets in process and puppet mock-ups.

 

 

 

 

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The set model

Here’s some photos of a model of the current idea for the set.  We were belabouring some wire and plaster bandages and plasticine in an effort to make a great big (miniature) mastodon skeleton, the old idea, and Pityu spotted some antlers on the table.  Way better: more abstract, more interesting, more beautiful.  Although it’s true that we have no idea how to build it, this is what it looks like small, anyway (the washed-out thing is a cardboard and plasticine puppeteer):

And this is what it looks like with a highly makeshift projection onto the paper towel we taped on there to look like the animal skins (not real, don’t worry) that would actually form the projection surface in the real thing:

 

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RE the current version of Ignorance

I found the idea you had for Ignorance–looking at where we went wrong in terms of bliss so that we that we might find our way again—rather ambitious, but nonetheless compelling. The version currently posted on the blog seems to have abandoned that idea altogether. Why? I was especially dismayed by the balloon with the Happy Face as some kind of symbol—of what I’m not sure. In any event, I once took a screenwriting course in which the instructor said that the only way people will pay good money to see a depressing movie is if there is some kind of actual or potential redemption at the end. In that role, the balloon with the Happy Face just doesn’t make it. Oddly enough, its floating into the grid at the end feels the opposite of hopeful, even cynical. It also feels like a cop-out that trivializes the subject matter. Satirizing the subject is one thing, but trivializing it is a mistake. People tend to take the possibility of happiness very seriously, even if they suspect that it’s illusory.

Posted in General Thoughts | 28 Comments

And here’s the version with the modern story as well

Here’s a version with both the cave story and the modern-day story intercut.  If you’re going to read one, you might as well read this one, instead of the last one I posted, I guess.

ACT ONE: Inside the Cave

 

[The stage is dark.  We hear wind whistling, and dripping water.  We wait for awhile, and then hear a distant drum booming, approaching; soon we can make out a kind of moaning song and the occasional mournful groan of some tusk trumpet being played.  Three shaggy characters enter, wearing furs and ornamented with peculiar artifacts: fetishes made of bone and twigs.   One is burdened by an enormous drum, another by the horn, and the third bears a flickering torch that provides a dim light, by which we can make out their sloped brows and heavy shoulders.  They go about their business as the narrator speaks: they light a big fire in the middle of the stage, with great ceremony, for in their minds they are enacting the birth of the universe; they shuffle about assembling their puppets and saying preparatory prayers to their heathen gods.]

[The tribe is plagued by doubt, and the shamans have determined it is time for them to do enact the ritual that reassures them of their place in the universe. They are ready.  They stand before the audience.]

[They enact the creation of a prehistoric Adam:

one of them wears antlers and has goat-bladders strapped from his body so that he appears like a deranged deer-human mother creature: Big Mama.  The other two assist in the birth of a collection of puppet body parts; perhaps one acts as a kind of narrator of the events.  Once all has been extruded from Big Mama’s twiggy vulva, they gather the parts of the puppet, and use the great tusk to blow into its nostrils, bringing him to life.  They dance with joy at their success, and react to the creature as if it is a living thing, cooing at it like a baby.]

 

[The puppeteers bring forth ugly little bat puppets made from soot-blackened leather and teeth tied to branches, and make them flap about like it’s a Disney movie; Adam is delighted, and he coos at them.  The puppeteers bring forth some sightless grubs, and then some cave rats, which are puppets made from the skins of real cave rats worn as slippers; the puppeteers shuffle across the stage.  Adam finds a club and tries to bash one of them.  He keeps missing.]

 

[Adam whines mournfully.  Enter Eve, another puppet, snuffling and grubbing about.]

 

[They see each other, and are initially suspicious.  Soon, though, they approach each other.  Eve has a wad of cave-lichen, which they share in a touching scene of first love.]

* * *

[Enter a wailing kid.  He’s deeply upset for some reason.  It might be clever to have squirt bottles in its head, so that it sprinkles tears.  The other puppeteers stomp about, each wearing an enormous leg – it’s the kid’s Dad, from the kid’s eye-level.  Dad mumbles conciliatory things, but the kid wails even harder.  Finally, Dad’s enormous hand offers the kid a Happy Face Balloon on a string (in fact, it’s a wire, so we can make the balloon look like it’s full of helium even though it’s not).

[I’m not super sure how to do that with two puppeteers in legs and the other working the wailing kid.]

[The kid takes the balloon, and is satisfied for a moment, and plays with it a bit.  But then it accidentally lets it go, and it flies away.  The kid begins to wail again.]

* * *

[We return to Adam and Eve holding hands, about to kiss.  Big booming drumbeats and howling interrupt them.  They panic, and scamper to hide.  Enter King Gog, the alpha male of the tribe; he is huge and primitive, closer to ape than Adam and Eve.  It might be possible to use something that looks like a boulder for his head; he wears some kind of crown, hewn from branches and bones.  He is dragging the half-eaten carcass of a sightless cave-fish.  One puppeteer handles both Adam and Eve, while the other two work Gog and a crowd of other tribe members, played by rocks tied to sticks.]

[King Gog pounds his chest and bellows, for he has brought dinner for everybody.  The tribe gobbles at the carcass.  Gog dominates, deciding who eats what, feeding the tribe-rock-puppets himself, and batting them around occasionally.  Truth be told the carcass is a poor feast – it’s mostly rotten and already chewed by whatever killed it – the tribe is evidently starving, and these are miserable scraps.]

 

[Adam and Eve creep up to the carcass.  They attempt to have a bit for themselves.  Gog is surprised by their arrival, and refuses to let Adam eat.  He lets Eve have a munch, though, and then grabs her and humps her, to Adam’s horror.]

[Adam tries to stop him, but Gog gives a great roar, assisted by the sound system, that is utterly terrifying.  Adam is cowed.  Gog rewards his obedience with a scrap of fetid fish, which he takes reluctantly.]

 [Exit Gog, dragging Eve; but he is intercepted by Big Mama, who is jealous of Eve; she bats Eve away and exits with Gog.  Eve is sad and lonely.  She looks to Adam.]

[Adam longs for her, for a moment, but he is too fearful to take action.  The other young males of the tribe gather around him to distract him from the dangerous temptation, and soon they are full of teenage boy camaraderie – laughing and slapping each other on the back and bumfucking each other.]

 

[Adam and the rock-puppets settle into sleep.]

 

[Now that the boys are asleep, Eve approaches the snoring Adam, and touches his face longingly.  He awakes, and bats her away, grunting.  He goes back to sleep.]

* * *

[The projector shows a downtown skyline.  A puppeteer brings out a window with a ledge, which he holds.  A man opens the window, and steps out onto the ledge; wind makes him sway dangerously.  He has tear-stained cheeks, and carries, perhaps, a file folder.  Inside the file folder are papers that are all cleverly rigged with strings or rods or something, so that we can enact them blowing out of the folder and away in the wind.  The man looks down off the ledge; traffic noise from below.  He takes a deep breath, ready to jump, when the Happy Face Balloon from before floats by.  He brightens, wiping away his tears, and reaches for the balloon, losing his balance, and falling.  Lights go out to a horrible crunch.]

* * *

 

[Eve goes to stare out at the world from the edge of the stage.  In the distance, she hears strange animal moans and screeches and roars, which are performed by one of the puppeteers using conch shells and rattles and such things – maybe from in the audience?]

[The puppeteer blows through a big windy tusk-trumpet (maybe there’s some way to make a prehistoric wind-machine – the spinning bone-on-a-string could work).  A wild gust blows in through the cave mouth.  The fire surges and then goes out.]

[Weird moonlight fills the cave.  The two free puppeteers make shadows on the skins with their fingers and some props: the creatures of the night.  A bird, cawing.  A deer, shuffling around or something.  Trees waving in the wind.  And then – the shadow of a monster, entering the cave.  The puppeteers make it with all four hands, but then it becomes an animation – it’s a silhouette, but then its eyes begin to glow like fire, and it’s too complicated to make using their fingers.  It beckons to Eve – the other puppeteers, afraid, scamper from their shadow-making spot and cower with her.  The shadow of the Monster speaks weirdly, and the image becomes a beautiful image of the world outside – a true Eden in shadows.  A shadow-sun comes up, and the winter blows away, and fruit hangs from the tree to eat.  We see the shadow of Eve in that world; she eats the fruit and it’s delicious.  And then we see the shadow of Adam, and the two of them together and happy; she offers the fruit to him and he eats it and everything’s wonderful.]

[The shadows dissolve into the shape of the Monster, beckoning – or maybe we realize that the Monster is in the audience.  It disappears.]

[Eve is flabbergasted.  She’s just been the first human in the world to imagine something.]

[She goes to tug at the snoring Adam.  He wakes.]

[She sings weirdly to him, but he doesn’t understand a damn thing.  She finds a charred stick – or maybe she bites off the end of her finger, yikes, I don’t know.  Point is: she makes a way to make a mark on the wall.  She draws a stick figure of herself, and then one of him (they have happy-faces).  He doesn’t really get it.  She makes it so the two stick-figures are humping.  He still doesn’t get it.  She draws the crown on the figure of him, and he gets it.  They fall into lovemaking.]

* * *

[The puppeteers run in with two puppet cars, about the size of those cars you give to kids to paddle around in.  They place them as if they are parked along a curb, with just barely enough space to fit the third between them – and then enter the third car, which is driven by a guy dressed as a clown.  His car is full of happy face balloons, which he obviously sells.  He sees the parking spot, turns on his blinker, and tries to get into it.  It’s almost impossible.  He backs in, doesn’t quite make it, pulls back out, tries again, fails, tries again, fails, as his ability to contain his frustration mounts.  Somebody behind him starts to honk.  Finally he bumps into one of the other cars, and even so is still parked shittily.  He freaks right out, which is funny to watch partly because we can’t hear him except for maybe a totally muffled shrieking.  He’s banging his head against the steering wheel when suddenly the guy who fell from the ledge lands on the clown’s car.]

* * *

 

[Suddenly, Gog awakes.  He rises behind them, and roars.  They scramble to hide, covering their genitals with the old leaves and twigs that are strewn about the cave-floor.]

[Gog is enraged, and attacks Adam.  He picks him up and hurls him about.  The puppeteers are shrieking like monkeys.  It’s an epic battle, but Adam is severely outmatched.  Gog grabs a club, and it’s evident that Adam is about to get killed.]

[Eve jumps out and pushes Gog into the fire.  The flames leap up, and he screams as he is burned.  The whole stage is filled with flames and smoke; the other tribe members run around shrieking as the cave is consumed (this would be using the projector, probably).

[Meanwhile, Adam and Eve escape the cave – by running off into the audience, maybe?]

[The flames burn down, and we see Gog’s charred remains fall over, dead.  And also: some of the ribs of the great mastodon proscenium skeleton fall down; the cave has collapsed and is replaced by a landscape of silhouetted rib-hills and protruding ribs that can be draped with crap to make them look like trees.]

* * *

[An assembly line: a table, containing a conveyor belt; on one end a stack of boxes marked with happy face balloons, one of them open to receive products from the advancing conveyor.  A forlorn Mexican woman stands behind the contraption.  One puppeteer runs in from one side, and puts an un-inflated balloon on one end of the conveyor belt; the other puppeteer cranks the belt so the balloon approaches the woman.  She takes it, stretches it, blows it up, lets it deflate, and then puts it back on the conveyor so that it travels to the waiting box.  Another balloon, another test inflation, and another, and another; she’s not fast enough, though, so they’re beginning to pile up.  The projector shows a video of the same scene – an identical woman doing the identical task.  The image multiplies and multiplies like that trick with two mirrors until there are millions of identical women and puppeteers doing the same task (that is, we’ve filmed the scene beforehand).  Finally a buzzer sounds, indicating the end of the shift.  The image dissolves.  The woman stops working, and sighs.  She exits, just as an identical puppet enters from the other side of the stage.  The buzzer goes again.  Fade to darkness.]

END OF ACT ONE

(not that there’s an intermission)

 

ACT TWO: Outside the Cave

 

[The world outside the cave: puppeteers are dressed as shrubbery, so that there is a primeval sense of vegetation that moves of its own accord.]

 

[A puppeteer clambers up an erect rib to make the sun, which is a rock painted yellow with weird stringy bits; birds and insects flutter about – it’s the first time they’ve seen the outside world, and it is beautiful.  They are filled with conflicting emotions – pride of victory, and an uneasy terror that they have done something irrevocable.]

[But they are desperately hungry.  Eve is disappointed to discover that there are no fruits handily hanging as was promised by the vision.  Adam manfully gets a pointy stick and makes a display of his intention to find something and kill it – of course, his experience of such things is limited to cave rats, so he is preparing to confront a little creature.]

[Rumbling from without – Adam readying himself.  Enter a Mastodon, which is enormous, not tiny.  Adam is terrified, and attempts to poke at it with his stick, to no avail.  The Mastodon trumpets and charges; it chases Adam out of view.  We now see a smaller version of both puppets, chasing along a rib-hilltop, and then maybe even smaller versions chasing along a more distant hilltop that leads to a cliff.  The Mastodon bowls Adam over but then can’t stop itself from plummeting over the cliff to its doom.]

[Enter Adam, full size, dragging a huge haunch, heroically.  Eve is delighted and impressed.  They feast – but as they feast, they hear a horrible howl in the distance.]

[They must escape the area.  They pack up some chunks of meat and exit.]

* * *

[The balloon’s POV, projected.  Earth, receding.  The balloon spins, and now sees outer space; in the distance we can see other balloons floating away into the heavens.  Now it sees the moon.  The moon gets closer and closer.  On the surface of the moon we see ecstatic moonlings, worshipping the appearance of the balloon.  And now the moon recedes, for the balloon is falling back to Earth.]

* * *

[Now we see Adam and Eve from above, trudging across a stretched skin, which we view now as forest turning to tundra.  This is accomplished either through projection or puppetry; maybe projection provides lengthening shadows as the sun goes down.]

[Night-time.  They huddle for warmth.  Their bellies rumble.  A puppeteer clambers up the rib to replace the sun with the moon (a pale rock), and then clouds (balls of hair) and then rain (water poured from a bladder) while another one makes rain sounds (pebbles in a wood bowl) and thunder (with his mouth or something).  Our heroes are miserable – and then the howl again.]

[Adam is angry that they left.  He sees visions of Gog moving in the fog (projector), and believes they are haunted by Gog’s ghost.  He barks and grumbles at Eve, and they begin to smack each other and growl – when suddenly they discover that she is pregnant.  Of course they don’t understand why this happens, but they recognize that something miraculous is occurring.]

[Eve sings a plaintive little song that conjures projected images of the paradise she drew in the cave.  They draw strength, and press on in hopes of finding it.]

[The weather turns even worse – a puppeteer blows snow (cold ash from the fire) at them; they are growing weaker and weaker; they continue to sing their little song but slowly it runs out.  Finally they come to a desolate place.]

[Eve cannot continue.  She collapses in the snow.  Adam struggles to pull her along, grunting little bits of their song, but he too is exhausted.]

[And now from the shadows the Shadow Monster emerges, speaking weirdly like before in the cave.  It looms large above them, as shadow animations of paradise fading and dissolving play around it; the tree with the fruit of Eve’s dreams turns into a tree strewn with skulls.  We realize that the Monster has lured them out of the cave with the visions, so it can eat them.]

[Adam lunges at it with his pathetic little stick, attempting to block the Monster from seeing Eve, but it’s a hopeless case.  The Monster hisses and attacks, and Adam is caught in its jaws or claws or whatever; he drops the stick, but he keeps fighting desperately, calling to Eve to escape – but Eve circles behind it and spears it with the stick.  The Monster shrieks and thrashes and finally dies.]

[Adam is mangled beyond hope, though.  He is dying.  Eve cradles him.  Perhaps she tries to sing their little song, but Adam stops her.  He offers himself to be eaten, and then dies.]

[Eve forlornly eats him.]

* * *

A cloudy day at the beach.  The balloon falls from the sky, shriveled, and lands limply in the sand.]

[An old man approaches, shuffling.  He’s wearing a nametag that says ‘if lost, call this number.’  He’s dressed in a housecoat and slippers, and his hair is askew.  He shuffles painfully slowly up to the balloon, and discovers it.  He bends over, creaking, and picks it up.  He looks at it, and for a moment an old photograph of him as a child, happy with a happy face balloon, flickers from the projector, and then is gone.  The old man painstakingly puts the balloon back on the sand, and then continues on his way.  He gets partly across the stage, when we hear from off somebody calling for him: Mr. Kowalchuk!  Mr. Kowalchuk!  He grunts and turns back around, to escape the nurse who’s looking for him.  Of course his escape is hopeless, since he’s so absurdly slow.  But he comes upon the balloon again, and discovers it as if for the first time.  He’s breathing hard, though, from his exertions, and as he picks it up, and the happy photograph flickers in his mind, he has a heart attack and dies.]

* * *

[And then, suddenly, with the new nourishment, Eve has a contraction.  And then another.  And another.]

[She scrambles to get into position, and (as the puppeteers grunt and shriek in support) she gives birth to a Happy Face balloon that expands and expands until it is enormous.]

[The tribe is content.  The Happy Face balloon floats up into the grid while hopeful music plays.]

The End.

 

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