Cannot figure out how to end this thing

Okay, so we started this whole thing with the idea that we would make a documentary about prehistoric humanity, and that somehow or other this would tie into the idea of happiness.  I think we’re only just now starting to figure out what we actually mean by that:

One: after much fussing, I think we can say that, roughly speaking, the idea is to make a documentary about the evolution of happiness. There’s heaps to ponder under that heading: what’s the purpose of happiness, from the perspective of the survival of the species?  In other words, are we built to be happy?  Under what conditions?  Given that we evolved to function in a paleolithic environment, not a post-modern one, do the conditions for happiness still exist?  Did they ever?  Are we well-designed?  And so on.  Lots of interesting and entertaining material in there, I think.

Two: what it means to be making a puppet documentary, as opposed to a puppet play, is this: we’re replacing plot with ideas.  There has to be the same arc as a story — the thing has to be moving, and exciting, but it has to be doing that by revealing bit-by-bit, not what happens to a character, but what we think is true.  See what I mean?  That’s an exciting documentary — you discover at the end something you had never known or thought before.

Put another way: a documentary begins by asking a question that we want to know the answer to, and then answering it.  The question we seem to be asking is: how can we be happy?  That’s a good question, and one that anybody would be anxious to have answered.  But, dang it, who knows the answer?  Not me.  I mean, sometimes, even generally speaking, I’m happy, but I couldn’t really tell you how or why in any profound sense.

So… is there another way to structure the documentary?  Another question, maybe? Or a way of getting out of having an answer?

About Judd Trout

Judd Palmer is one of the Old Trouts.

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One Response to Cannot figure out how to end this thing

  1. Terminator E says:

    Have the puppet play stand on its own as the spectacular footage of the cavemen. There should be a story to the play, and there should be a lot of stuff going on but it should not necessarily be about happiness.

    Over top of the play, the music and narration explains that what we are witnessing is the Evolution of Happiness., and asks and answers all the questions. Sometimes the footage supports the thesis, other times not so much, and the orchestra and the narrator have to work harder to impart the meaning.

    Develop the happiness theory separately from the cavemen story, then make the two fit together in the last weeks of rehearsal, as if you are Samuel L. Jackson and Walt Disney kindly asks you “Here’s 2 hours of lions and cheetahs, do you think you can make it about Motherhood?”.