This might be good

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.

About Judd Trout

Judd Palmer is one of the Old Trouts.

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26 Responses to This might be good

  1. libidoless says:

    I used to go for food at a Sikh temple when my funds were scant,,, there were pictures on the wall, very graphic, realist oil paintings,,, two brothers, one was swabbed in cloth and slow burned alive, the other was hacked lengthwise from head to toe in half,,, sometime later I decided to read up on shiites* and sikhs and the fellow who was hacked/sawed in half was talking about talking to someone else during his death,,, another book about early neurologists seperating the halves of the brain on live “people” and the people having live discussion with their other selves,,, once again neither here nor there, other than I don’t eat at the temple when my funds are scant. Though I do miss the music which was live tabla thrummings,, such a dichotomy.

    I really like slamming the idea that Christ wasn’t a laugher (could he have an annoying laugh, I see him as a sneery sniggerer), Moses picking his nose would be good too…

  2. Urvater says:

    Or, if the shill was Muhammad, we could get huge scandal, Fatwas, car bombs! Publicity up the ass, eh?

  3. Urvater says:

    A wise man (Urvater) once quoted some other wise man, that the best narratives are easy to follow. It is occurring to me that the easiest to follow are fun and funny. Where was it the other day I heard somebody claim that there is no record of Christ laughing? He should see our play! (Another shill. Christ comes in: white robe, beard, soulful eyes. Sits in the audience. And, at appropriate moments, bursts into huge laughter, slapping his knees, elbowing and slapping people on each side of him, pointing at the stage, shaking his head, helpless in the hilarity, wiping the tears of laughter from his eyes. I think just that alone would cheer the audience up enormously.) Christ could think it especially hilarious if the cave people determined that the god they have made should have a child. Procreate. But, of course, without sex. And this little baby god arrives on the stage. Christ just cracks up at that one!

  4. Urvater says:

    Or, what if the cave creatures constantly expressed themselves in eloquent, expressive English, gesticulating, often interrupting each other, professor-style, and, as they speak, subtitles, in VERY SIMPLE ENGLISH, “translate” the meaning to the audience! Character: “I can’t help but respond to your hypothesis, Gng, with some reservations, due to the metaphysical elaborations you propose, many of which are highly suspect on, for one thing, simply ethical bases, which I feel must be …. ” And the subtitle reads: “Gng doubts”. Or, vice versa, too: a character grunts, and stares into the fire. The subtitle reads: “Ffghd feels that in the over-all, some aspects of the conversation, particularly points raised, even if only tentatively by Ghb, tend to violate, or, at least, impinge upon in some way, what were generally considered valid principles as the discussion wound up last night; and that, in a context in itself rather contradictory to some of the earlier themes …. ” Playing on the way the dichotomy between language, on the one hand, and visual evidence (cave setting, cave people, cave events) on the other hand, effectively reaches across the millennia. A guy farts: 40,000 years B.C. Another comments: “Please, Hgh! Can’t you control that?”: 2010 A.D.

  5. libidoless says:

    This thought was triggered by another thread,,,, it’s been done in other shows but I don’t think with cave-dwellers.

    What if, while during scenes of apparently nothing (i.e. the tidying and creating of a fire,,,) that there are incredibly eloquent & deep & articulate subtitles accompanying simple grunts and otherwise minor gesticulations happening in the cave,,, I mean, they conveyed a lot with very little expression. During the tedious spray/spit painting of a deer, subtitles run above the artist in both internal and external monologue/dialogue, though the drama what we see and hear is extremely different than what is being subtitled, which is very dense and possibly troubling….

  6. libidoless says:

    the film “Being There” just finished on tv. One of the final lines in the film is “I’ve realised the dreams I’ve pursued!”, it’s now stuck in my head, can’t shake it, an earworm of sorts,,, needed to post it.

  7. libidoless says:

    You know when you have those dreams that are completely real feeling and completely over the top in detail and impossibility and euphoria and very future feeling,,,,, can a dream sequence be played out by twigboy? A beyond beyond beyond dream? A binder of all to fear and fulfill?

  8. Urvater says:

    Maybe some of you know of the exchange of letters in the 16th or 17th centuries, in what is now New England, U.S.A., between a European settler (essentially modern era) and a native chief (stone age), about education. The letters are both on record, as the European’s letter was written, and translated to the Chief, and the Chief’s speech was translated into an English or Dutch letter. The European suggested that the colonists would accept an Indian youth, and educate him into a proper gentleman. The Chief answered that it might be a good idea. Why not reciprocate? The Indians would take a colonial youth, and likewise, educate him into a useful human being. I’m sure such an exchange could take place between our audience and our puppets. I don’t mean, do that. I just mean, the idea hovers above the audience and the stage, doesn’t it? Or, I mean, might. Just a thought.

    • libidoless says:

      I feel the same way,,,, when did the Ignorance creep in,,, was it when the brutes killed the more creative males to have first go on the gal? Thus getting the brutal competitive gene in the pool?

      The Salish/Sechelt people were a 200,000 strong society at the end of the 19th century, 20 years (or less) into the 20th century, our disease eradicated just over 90% of that population. The Sechelt today are literally doing a forensic guess of who and what they acheived, being that all the story tellers/elders were blighted before passing enough oral tradition along, as were the warriors and boat builders, hunters, fishers, carvers, etc… Actually the Totems from up that way are a guess, the knowledge was obliterated.

      If I were stuck in the woods I would choose to be stuck with cavepeople not a foreign policy weilding lawyer. england enacted a Civility Act upon the Natives here, that was around for quite sometime, it was an Act set to erode culture, very apartheid and then some,,,,
      How does one create this character of righteousness in a play?

  9. Urvater says:

    Another little thing about “primitive”. We think we’re making progress. But why can’t anybody make a better Stradivarius? Given the available materials, I don’t think we can improve upon the wigwam or the teepee or the canoe. And REAL tools and weapons made of stone and rawhide and wood are extremely well-made, durable, and excellent to their purposes. Not to mention practical. Ancient hunters, we know, made arrowheads in minutes right on the spot, on the trail. These people were bright. Consider: they have dealt with birth, life, death, disease, food gathering, war, glaciers, natural catastrophes, animals bigger than ours, for thousands — millions of years — and have passed on to us way more than they got. Who’s superior? I bet they were good at what they did, and KNEW it. I bet if one of us arrived in their camp, we’d be a joke beyond their belief. And they sure as hell wouldn’t let us in on hunting or preparing food or anything else. We’d be totally in the way. By what standards are we judging them and ourselves? What are the better standards? And, as I mentioned in “Theme” — what about the standard of fulfillment? Happiness?

  10. libidoless says:

    Some years back I was short listed to observe killer whales/orcas (I was passed on for some guy with a degree in biology), anyhoo, one of the ways to figure out what whale family you are watching, is by timing the intervals between them taking air while at rest,, this is relevant to what Urv just posted,, when calves are born, each mother has her own interval which has been passed down from her mother and so forth. On the Serengeti, the nomads are also recognised by their gait, which is passive rhythm.

    if the puppets all held a particular rhythm, unique to each puppet but in sync with the other puppets -kinda like max roach doing 4 differing tempi at once on the drums- the show could opt out of drums altogether,, visual drumming

  11. Urvater says:

    At the pre-conquest site of Monte Alban, in Oaxaca, Mexico, once inhabited by about 30,000 Zapotec people, there are films, etc., reconstructing some of the ancient rituals, etc, as perceived by modern Mexican museum people. When you walk around the extensive and complex structures, murals, sculpture, etc., you somehow injest an idea, similar, I think, to what would happen around Egyptian ruins, that the original people all moved very slowly and rythmically with their arms in strange positions. This is no doubt augmented by the fact that images are cut in bas-relief stone, and the figures are very graphic and formalized, and they wear huge head-dresses, etc. So, it’s startling, and refreshing, in one of the movies about some of the activities, that these people are very active physically. They even leap about to accomplish certain tasks. They assume active, virile, strong and graceful stances. They are quick and athletic, moving in a swift choreography, an unconscious unison that comes from performing habitual, practised actions. An interesting take. Similarly, we sort of imagine our cave people as being heavy and ponderous, sort of waddling heavily on big legs and feet. And this impression is probably furthered by the way gorillas move on short little legs and hand-feet. But, likely, the primitive people were as quick as other animals are. Their culture might have been quick and light. I just mention all this to back up my idea that the opener for the play might be an invasion of the audience by frightening, hyper, scary, strange creatures, more than something sedate. But, I don’t know. Sedate has an effect, too. Sorry. I’m rambling!

  12. libidoless says:

    … or a voyageur from chicoutimi or the gaspe or rural new brunswick, in french,,, I think France declared that French Canadian isn’t french,,,, most of the cave paintings are in france, what happened? Too much plonk and cheese I suspect, could explain their stunted growth. Some years back I had a Parisien room mate and we were slagging our other room mate,, my french sucked so I’d just ramble and rant away in nasally english and Myriam -the parisien- would try to follow my train of thought,,, (none of this has to do with puppetry,,, but it could have something to do with Ignorance),,, so in my ranting I used the word “selfcentered”, to which Myriam stopped me to try and translate the word better for her,, after much hopelessness I grabbed the Roberts English to French dictionary, and the translation of the word was -if I remember correctly- Farisme,,,,,,, to which Myriam read the definition and said “..yes our room mate is that and I’ve learned a new word!’,,, I laugh to this day, seriously, you have to know a Parisien or sian for it to be funny.

  13. libidoless says:

    .. there seems to be a common thought of the narator being of pomp british accent, but what if the narator had an accent of a very thick, rural scottish brogue or a rural yorkshireman or a frenetic fast talking cockney woman,, where you really had to listen -or ignore pending ones mood- or a khazikstani sheep herder,, I mean, afterall,,,, ope lost my train of thought as they called up my pro-fat frappe latte

    • Terminator E says:

      i appreciated the narration of marlon perkins on mutual of omaha’s wild kingdom..”we’ll wait in this tree while jim wakes the sabretooth tiger….”

      also i’ve head good things about morgan freeman in “march of the penguins”. easy reader.

      also gilbert gottfried for just about any occasion.

  14. libidoless says:

    The theatre is the cave is great,,, and the nudity only being shocking for a short time,, actually they were a hairy bunch so It wouldn’t need so much blatancy (<sp?).
    Sound and smell can offer a good natural fright,,, if it could be surround sound you could have what sounds like a very large beast circling but unseen and a healthy blasty waft of rancid carrion for the breath effect but no visual. A friend did sound on an IMAX film and even though she was the person editing the sounds of bugs she couldn't help but swat at them,,, it's what we don't see that frightens us. I've a book kicking around that talks of the word "Bee" as possibly bee-ing one of the first words we developed, "Ow" was in there too.
    Can somebody make a new thread,, puppet show #1 and puppet show #2 as there are 2 shows that are developing,,, and to think, I was posting anything everywhere just a few days ago, now i'm a menuholic..
    An artist friend used to work for the Tyrell (cool job, straight out of Artschool and into the Tyrell painting giant dinosaur diaramas) and as far as set pieces go, Tyrell has much ado on this period, it could bring down the set cost a chunk and if promoted right Tyrell could be a featured presenter (hit them up for dough, nudge nudge wink wink, not that they need promotion),, or have a show take place at their museum.
    The stooge effect is good if done as naive (not appearing scripted/directed)

  15. Urvater says:

    Maybe there is a universal catastrophe, like … a flood! Noah counts all the animals into the ark. Our people are among the animals. Maybe the puppets get counted as pairs too. Maybe the puppets’ puppets, too, and Twigboy. But Noah and his bunch die of scurvy or something. Bump! The boat lands on a mountain, and our people walk off, now having no reason not to be the post-flood human race. Maybe even Twigboy is now in charge (having somehow transformed into being as alive as any of the others). Get it? Creation! Re-creation! And maybe Twigboy, now life-size, mates with a modern person who happens to be in the theatre! Maybe she’s one of the audience who rips her clothes off, just to mate with Twigboy! Do you think people would be upset?

    • libidoless says:

      It’s that whole “Shrodingers Cat” (… or as Steve Martin said,, but what about Witgensteins Banana?), we really don’t know the leisure aspects of our foreclans, so???
      If there were a short humour scene of a cromagventriloquist gnawing on a bone with a twigboy on his lap making little grunts,,, were we laughing in those caves? did we do improv?

  16. Urvater says:

    The enactment of the creation myth, I think, has wonderful potential. What if the little newborn creature ended up being handed carefully and lovingly to someone in the audience? A young couple (pre-arranged), who carefully and lovingly take it and leave the theatre with it, quietly excited?

  17. Urvater says:

    This Might be Good has good, workable stuff in it. An aspect that has been hanging around in my mind about this, that seems consistent, would be really exaggerated intermingling, interaction with the audience. Be right in their face. Somehow pull them in physically, and be among them, so they can’t help but participate. Three puppeteers, OK. But how about some stooges in the audience who can carry it off even if the audience is too passive or shy or whatever. Maybe this could be facilitated by a stage and audience arrangement that is totally unorthodox: the audience is split up into small groups, some high, some lower, etc. Like strung out on the rocks and branches and dirt. The action moves among the groups. Somehow, the groups have to move from time to time. Break them up. Lots of noise. Confusion. If three figures moved up to the front of an audience group, the three dancing in unison and holding hands or arms together, and one of them took an audience in tow the same way, wouldn’t the audience pretty well join arms and join in the rhythm somehow? Especially if you handed a spectator a drum and a bone to beat it with? And if something exciting were happening on stage, wouldn’t it be natural for audience members to be pulled in for a closer look, join the group? Just a thought. It’s a fight. Pass out spears, eh? Fire regulations might be the least of our problems! Especially if a stooge or three ripped off their clothes to get involved. Yeah. I think there’s good stuff here!

  18. Urvater says:

    God, if EVER there was an excuse to have complete nudity in a whole play, this is IT!!! All the puppets can be nude, and the puppets’ puppets, and, the three people making them do stuff. Controversy! Scandal! Perfect! Obviously, being naked would help the actors (puppeteers) get into their roles, eh? I mean, what choice do you have? And the symbolism! Bashing right back through a million years of taboo right here on the spot! The audience, of course, will forget within five minutes that everybody’s naked (this always happens in such situations), and will leave the theatre strangely exonerated and released, freed, exalted (this always happens in such situations).

  19. libidoless says:

    Pityu told me that anything could be contributed to this blog, prior to me signing on and off the record, it has made living in the deepest south burbs, thank you for a semblance of purpose.

    anyhoo, pityu also mentioned sci-fi;
    So there are two puppet shows taking place, a puppet show of cavepuppeteers puppeteering a puppet show.
    What if that show the cavepuppeteers were putting on were a show about us now in our present state, much like our sci-fi are of things to come?
    But instead of making the show blatant at the onset, it becomes apparent at the closing. The show is Ignorance, I’m not sure they the cavers were ignorant but rather uber-altruist, it’s the folding and multiplying of us that brought about the ignorance. If I were stuck in the woods I would choose caveguy over my lawyer.
    It is said the Mayans never incorporated the wheel, except in childrens toys.
    For crowd participation, a set of rules could be worked into the play, a conditioning of what shreiks and grunts and inflections are to occur at a movement or an appearance, a collective AHHHHHH when a caver stands completely erect and stretches like he just stepped out of a pool in Nassau. The Trouts did campfires at camp as did I and it doesn’t take long
    to apply transpositions, repeat after me songs but as addressed by the attenborough nararator who is acutely unaware that he is describing a clan putting on a show about present day foibles.
    Anachronisms are always good but they need to be quick,,, so what if at some point a ringtone from a cellphone rings out bobby mcferrins “don’t worry be happy” in horrible midi-tones and our clan scream and tremour and run to the furthest reaches of the set, shreiking.

    • unnggg says:

      I like this, come to think of it, using a boat would be sci-fi, or an alphabet, let alone the bible or a cell phone…

      • libidoless says:

        … or a saw,,,, we know that smashy tools were common, stones, axes, bludgeoning hammers but the saw would have been like introducing the haldron collider (oddly a smashy tool),,,, I was thinking last night about a puppet carcass with puppet guts being used in the cavepuppeteers story,, the mastadon bladder being inflated and popped to tell their sci-fi story of nuclear holocaust.

        If programs of the show were handed out at the end, with a list of the stories that were told,, the boat story, the alphabet story, the holocaust story, happy awe and sad awe,,,,

  20. libidoless says:

    This brings to mind a group that I saw that only managed a drunken effect when they performed live. They were 14 drummers from Haiti “Boukman Eksperience” and it was really a drumming symphony above and beyond a drum circle at the park in Nelson, it was intoxicating, really messed with the inner-ear thing. Another group was Olutungi (<sp?) subtle but an overwhelming thrumming that one almost wants to grunt.

    As for the fire glint, what theatres have loading docks? If you had the loading area for the stage, the fires could be outside, have you seen the effects of propane flame through sand, truly hypnotic?

    In the caveworld audience it would be interesting to have that one person who is a detractor to the story, interupting maybe even smashing twigboy, an anti-evolutionist for his her time,, maybe smashing twigboy and making ash & mudboy….

    • Terminator E says:

      also, the cavepeoples puppets should have puppets, for a little extra Meta.

      what is the puppet of a twiggy branch? some say it is the wind.

      every now and then a breeze blasts through, either a cool one from outside, or a hot blast coming up from the cave.