What Is Faction of Fools‘ Fool for All?
The Fool for All is based on two complementary factors: 1) The DC actor community is vast, talented, and diverse, and 2) Commedia dell’Arte is a specialized theatrical form that requires intense training in the style to do it justice. Thus, we endeavor to bring together dozens of talented actors in the Fool for All to train, create, and perform short Commedia plays on a theme.
Our first year, we created Tales of Love and Sausages , and last year we devised some Tales of Courage and Poultry. This year, we take on Tales of Marriage and Mozzarella. And next year? That’s right: Tales of Honor and Anchovies.
In Italian, these short plays are called scenari. To make things a little easier for American audiences, we call them scenarios.
Tales of Marriage and Mozzarella has 40+ actors, 7 scenarios, 6 directors, and 5 show dates. You can see all 7 scenes by attending two performances: either Sat (7/12) or Sat (7/21) AND either Tues (7/17) or Wed (7/25).
Past Fool for Alls were directed by Artistic Director Matthew R. Wilson and Artistic Associate Toby Mulford. This year, we’re doing something new, with six Faction of Fools artists directing the seven scenarios: Toby Mulford, Paul Reisman, Lindsey Snyder, Tyler Herman, Paul Hope, and myself, Rachel Spicknall. Even within the form, Commedia dell’Arte supports a lot of variation; remember that opera, ballet, vaudeville, musical theatre, and improv theatre have all been intimately connected to Commedia at some point in their histories. With 6 directors, we’re exploring the immense variation available to us.
Also unique this year, a real wedding will be “performed” live as part of the show! The wedding is on July 21 at 2:30pm. (If you’re interested in getting married or having a vow renewal on one of our other dates, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org!)
In the spirit of Commedia-like collaboration, I asked Paul Edward Hope to describe his process. He says, “We’ll be improvising around an outline that I’ll present to the actors. The first week, I encourage the actors not to worry about playing within any boundaries – I let them be as vulgar, rude, and risky as they possibly can be. Then, we’ll refine what’s brought to the rehearsal room. We’ll most likely end the piece with an improvised operetta.”
In my own first rehearsal, we talk through the plot outline (Girl wants a small elopement and invites her closest friend; pretty soon the whole town is involved in planning the best wedding for her) and the rhythmic outline of the scene (the build, the snow-ball effect of dream-come-true dresses, cakes, flowers, orchestras, elephants, etc.). The rest of the rehearsals we improvise as much fun physical and verbal material as possible and video-tape the results. I plan, write, and choreograph at home for the next rehearsal. So, it looks like this: Fun. Video-tape. Write. Repeat.
Tyler Herman, directing two different scenarios, says, “My actors all have different ways of processing and communicating, and so we keep coming down to the base level of what is funny. It’s not too intellectual or too witty; it’s the primal kind of funny. The one scene is basically a big Indiana Jones movie, all about stage pictures and what we’re creating with our bodies. The other scene is a little more classic Commedia, but still not about word-play. It’s farcical; it’s the kind of thing anyone of any age can access.”
Rachel Spicknall is an actor in the DC-metro area as well as an Associated Artist, the Director of PR, and a Teaching Artist for Faction of Fools Theatre Company. She is also presently a wedding expert, as she is planning her own “big day” for the fall.
Venue: Studio Theatre’s Milton Theatre -1501 14th Street, NW, in Washington, DC.
Click on the following performances to purchase tickets, or purchase them online.