Perhaps the most playful person who ever walked the planet – Jean Baptiste Poquelin aka MOLIERE
Note to Free Wisconsin Blog Readers:
I pursue other writing projects just because a constant focus on the workings of the political struggles facing us begs for a balance. I find this balance in the more playful approaches to life as did Moliere, the subject of this post.
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Many people know of him vaguely as the author of “funny plays”, and may even be able to
name one or two of his most famous works – “Tartuffe” or “The Misanthrope” improvisers may know Moliere as the man who moved improvisation off the streets and into the theatre.
I first came to know him when I played the role of Orgon in “Tartuffe” at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York in 1976. For the next 30 years I was captured in his comic mystic and the more I learned of his life, the more I wanted to share it. For here was a man who took playfulness in hand like a fairy of laughter and captured the hearts and minds of his contemporaries, not only with his plays, but with his life.
I started to write a play a dozen times and could never find the way “in”. Then one day last Winter I looked at the drawing of the column that supported the house where Moliere was born – monkeys handing fruit from top to bottom. Moliere’s birth place was known as “The House of Monkeys”. So, what if the story of his life were told by the monkeys? The play began to write itself and was complete in a matter of weeks.
This is how it begins.
The stage is bare in front of a scrim . The shadow image of a pillar is projected at the center . It is a column of monkeys; a series of monkeys appear to be carved into the post as they wind there way around with the lower monkey standing on the shoulders of next, and on from top to bottom. The image has been present since the audience entered and as the house lights come down the image is intensified in the darkness. The recording of a
laughter is heard through the theatre. It crescendos to decibels that are almost
uncomfortable, then it ends abruptly to silence and at the end of the short pause, one of the monkeys begins to move. One of the monkeys holds out an arm in a jerk so quick that it might be missed. Then a second monkey repeats the movement. Then the third. Finally, they all complete the movement in unison and begin to unwind themselves from the post
as they laugh their way on to the stage. As they appear on the stage we see that they are three different colors – black – white – and rainbow or all colors.
We Are the Monkeys Three (Song)
We were carved in wood with nothing to do
In Paris, France in 1622
Well…not really but that was the year of
The birth of …
The other monkeys silence the first by slapping their hands
over his mouth
Monkey 1 & 2: SHHHHHHH! Quiet! Not now!
The first monkey extricates itself from the other two and, continues, however he is watched carefully by the other two as they are ready to pounce if he should dare
make another mistake.
Monkey 1: (continuing)Carved on a pole in Paris, France
Near Rue St. Honre by chance
The place was known, if you please
As the house, the house of monkeys
Monkeys 1, 2, & 3: HA HA – HO HO – HEE HEE
We are the monkeys three.
HA HA – HO HO – HEE HEE
We are the monkeys
We are the monkeys
We are the monkeys three!
And the Song continues
And if you would like to continue reading the opening scenes of “The House of Monkeys” just click here
If you are interested in producing the play or workshoping its development, you can send me a message on the Author Page contact form. here
Read excerpts from the e book “Meet Your Playful Self” here