A procession of cave-people enter. We do the cave-people in a kind of Noh-style, with masks that project off of the performer’s face. The actual performers are draped in furs and such. If we were brave they’d be naked other than the masks and draping furs. They are carrying strange ritual things, bones and bits of fur and branches and skulls and horns and feathers and such. One beats an enormous drum, which makes a great big boom, supplemented by massive sub-woofers under the seats of the audience, so their buttocks actually tremble with each beat; the cave-people are chanting and moaning. They move with ritual slowness and weirdness.
The lights are dim, with occasional slices like moonlight coming in through cracks in a cave-wall. Somehow or other we have to get around the fire regulations so we can have a fire, too. The smell and the flicker of it would be crucial, I think.
They are engaged in a ritual pertaining to their creation myth. This is clever, you see, because they are engaged in a ritual of their creation myth, and so are we, by coming to a show about our prehistoric origins. The differences between the two rituals could be interesting to contemplate.
The ritual describes two beasts coming together to make a child. One is a stag, maybe, and the other is a wolf, or I don’t know. (* actually it might have taken us thousands of years to connect sex to pregnancy — we thought women just naturally and constantly produced children, and men had nothing to do with it. So maybe it’s not two beasts coming together, maybe it’s just one animal, but I think it’s nice that it’s an animal, because our own creation myth is also about coming from animal origins.)
They enact the ritual using crude and crazy puppets made out of antlers and bones and all that weird ritual stuff they carried in. They enact the birth of the first human from the animal, using theatrical devices available to them — for instance, they might have some beast’s bladder full of water that they pour onto the stage for the water breaking. They shriek together to make the labour pains, and get the audience to shriek back somehow or other. They bang on the drum and dance around. And then a little puppet of a human being (made out of twigs and bones et cetera) emerges.
Then, you see, we have our hero. The puppet that was born. The entire play (or some of the play) could be the adventures of this little person. Puppeteered by cave-people who are enacting a ritual, and reacting to events with great emotion, so that when the little person is attacked by some gigantic creature (played by one of the cave-people wearing a bear-skin or something) the other cave-people lament and tremble and even attack the gigantic creature themselves in defense of the little person — because they themselves are unable to clearly delineate the difference between theatre and reality — what’s happening to the little twig and bone person affects them as if it’s really happening to somebody real.
It would be fun to see what kind of theatrical effects (wondrously overt) could be generated using only things that we could actually find in the forest. Certainly sound effects — although as I mention it would be nice to supplement sound effects (banging sticks together, grunts, stomping feet and such) with amplification, so that the audience is really viscerally enveloped. Hand-like branches and a skull or a rock could make a whole creature, operated by all three performers, for example.
(By the way, we’re hoping to pull off this show with three performers. Economic realities.)
Puppets and masks would be interchangeable. We wouldn’t be strict about such things at all. Real human body parts could be used as part of a puppet, or elaborate head-dresses, and certainly shadow puppets on the cave-wall.
And so: the little person would enact some grand journey of discovery, illustrating how humans learned to negotiate the world from the perspective of people thousands of years ago. Discovering fire or God or war or what-have-you.
And every once in awhile a documentary narrator would say something.