Ionesco inspired absurdist show

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by AdamF, Apr 5, 2018.

  1. Hello all,

    I've taken a little hiatus from magic but, after reading La Cantatrice Chauve by Ionesco, I have been re-inspired and have an idea for a one man show that I'm really excited about.

    For those of you who don't know the play, it is an absurdist comic tragedy that attempts to strip away the meaning of the words we use and pokes fun at daily and theatrical tropes. It basically attempts to reveal the arbitrary nature of our life.

    I thought this would be great represented as a magical performance, given that magic is already absurd and often times extremely arbitrary. I see the show being about 30 minutes long, in a black box type theater with heavy audio effects. Below I will post my initial idea and description of the show as well as some key scripted lines. I wanted to reach out to this community and see if anyone would be down to workshop it/flush out some ideas. The description doesn't make a lot of sense, but that is kind of the nature of the show. If you need clarification, let me know. Cheers!

    Magicians steps out on stage with an unopened pack of cards. He unwraps the plastic, takes the cards out and displays them in new deck order. “The Breaks” by the black keys begins. After the loud beginning part, the music dies down and audio is heard. It’s the opening lines to Cantatrice Chauve. After each pause in the parole, where there is supposed to be a click of the tongue, the magician springs the cards. This is done about 4 or 5 times. The audio dies down, and the magician false shuffles the cards on the table in front. He then spreads them and before going to a spectator says:

    Pick a card, any card. Oh no, not that one. The clean one please hahahahahah. Please watch. Watch. Watch. Watch. Watch gestures to a wrist with no watch.

    Motions to spectator to select a card. This time they actually select a card but the magician says nothing. The magician takes the cards and spreads them on the table. He takes from his pocket 3 limes and begins to juggle them to music. He puts them in his pocket. He roles out a tray with a variety of mugs and a coffee maker. He takes the mugs and takes from the coffee maker 3 little baseballs. He then performs a short cups and balls routine to music finishing with the limes under the cups.

    The Magician then recites Mary’s monologue from the Cantatrice Chauve as he rolls a coin on his knuckles. At the end of this recitation, he repeatedly makes the coin vanish and reappear from his own ear. At the end, he makes the coin turn into a fake ear, from which he pulls the coin. From there, he then makes the ear vanish over and over again, each time making it reappear from the coin. This is set to a recording of an interview with Ionesco.

    After, the magician pulls out a book.

    I have here a book. Each book has words. Each word has letters. Each letter has a name. And each name has a story. And each story has a book.

    Roses are Red. Violets are Blue. I need two volunteers. One just won’t do.

    There once was a man from Peru. He had something in his shoe. It looked like a quarter, it was really a soda, and now he feels like a fool (produces a soda from a shoe)

    The magician has the spectators sit. Hands one the book, and the other a piece of paper. An audio recording plays describing exactly what they are supposed to do. The one spectator writes down on numbers in the corresponding rows, where the magician hands this to the other spectator who then takes it and looks for the word that corresponds. (This is a book test method from Corinda that involves two spectators and a billet switch) The word is doctor. In an envelope in plain view the whole time the magician pulls a sheet with another word. Pepper. The soda on the table is a coke. The magician looks devastated, but has the volunteers return to their seats.

    The magician picks up the cards and begins springing them as music starts to play and the last lines of the play are heard. As the music gets louder and louder and comes to a panicle, it cuts off. The magician spreads through the cards, says the name of the missing one. And has it returned to the deck. The Magician gives the cards more false shuffles and cuts. Shows all the cards in new deck order. Returns them to the box. Takes a bow, and walks off stage. He comes back on, pulls the cards out of the box, and springs them again. Blackout. Curtain.
     
  2. First, I applaud you for going outside the box.

    Second, I recommend you look into the performers Francis Menotti and David London. Both have a lot of focus on surreal theme in their performances and I think in particular, Menotti's "Treachery of Tricks" could help you make the performance both make sense but also maintain that not-entirely-making-sense idea.

    And last - I recommend making sure you're not treading into copyright/intellectual property issues if you use lines from existing plays or interviews and such. I'm not trying to scare monger, but I do know that it's not hard to accidentally overstep and risk getting fined or in trouble in some way.

    I don't understand many of the references you're making as I'm not familiar with the source inspiration, but I think this could play well if done properly.
     
  3. Christopher,

    Thanks for your input and advice. You're not a fear monger, copyright is definitely something I should be considering. I think that part unfortunately slipped my mind because I got extremely excited about the idea haha

    Francis is one of my favorite magicians and has been a great role model for my magic. I am not familiar with David London but will look into his stuff now. Thanks for the tip!

    Do you have any ideas on how to "catch the spectators up" as it relates to the play? I feel like for the audience to understand the show they don't need to know the play, but they should at least know and understand the philosophy behind it. Maybe a printed summary? Or an introductory monologue?

    Cheers,
    Adam
     
  4. David's from Baltimore and I've spent some time with him. Very odd duck, but I like his performances and his thoughts on business and performance in general. He did "The Creative Spirit Seance" - as in, a seance where they summed the spirit of creativity. The first half revolved around surrealist 'parlor games', and the second half was more traditional seance-y routines. He and Francis perform together semi-regularly. David is currently doing a PT Barnum Seance program.

    I think a monologue would be a better choice than anything written. People do not read, as a rule, and if your show depends on people having read something you're going to have a bad time. But really, I think your best bet is to minimize the dependence on understanding that play as anything more than a reference. People are probably going to be able to hook into the concept of "Absurdist" or "surrealist" more than trying to get them in on the concept of the play. So maybe just a brief summary of the concept of the play, and then for the rest of the show a focus on the absurd without a specific need to understand the references to the play.

    I know I make a lot of references people don't get, and that's fine. It's not essential to the performance that they understand the references, it's more like an easter egg for people who do get them.
     
    RealityOne likes this.

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