Okay, so here’s where I think we’ve gotten, for anybody who might be joining us at this point:
There’s a heap of interesting source material that’s been gathered, and probably more to come. It’s certainly worthwhile to throw in seemingly unrelated bits of inspiration, because whatever gets sent in could set off a little flurry of ideas nobody had thought of yet.
But it does seem like there’s a central discussion going, which I’m going to oversimplify by calling it Words versus No Words.
The No Words camp sees the opportunity for creating an experience for the audience that would be much like being transported into the middle of a prehistoric tribe, who grunt and whoop and screech incomprehensibly, whereby the audience would find a strange commonality between them and the prehistoric people, an unlikely understanding, a growing doubt that their own civilization has brought them as much sophistication as they think. The cave-people on stage would do visceral things and have visceral experiences — love, fight, hump, die, grieve. The audience, if it was done well, would emerge from the theatre feeling like they’ve just had the most profound primal screaming support group they ever attended.
The Words camp sees the opportunity to comment on all this primal activity, by showing the civilized in juxtaposition — for example, by pitching the whole thing as a documentary, and having the documentary narrator intoning hilariously/profoundly/confusedly as the cave-people writhe and shriek and discover religion or what-have-you, or by having characters such as archaeologists incorporated into the action — a mediating element of some kind, let’s say.
The first camp is asking for a plot to be developed. The second camp may be less plot dependent, because a format like that can be wide-ranging like a documentary — even encompassing different puppetry techniques between scenes. The difference might be, for those of you who have seen Old Trout shows perhaps, the difference between Beowulf and Famous Puppet Death Scenes.
Me: I’d love it if we could actually figure out how to get the audience to do some primal screaming. I’m not totally sure what Primal Scream therapy is, and I’m not sure it would be healthy, but it would be beautiful to see a theatre full of people facing down the people on stage with war-bellows at the top of everybody’s lungs, pounding on their chests and shaking their genitals threateningly.
And I think a narrator’s voice might really be helpful for breaking the tension at that point.