Mocking the dead from the political swamp

The US President is rewriting the book on acceptable behaviour from political leaders and we might soon expect a new normal. The US president mocked the late Rep. John Dingell and “longest-serving member of Congress in U.S. history” may be “looking up from hell”. ( 19 Dec 2019. Previously he had mocked the late John McCann ( ) 19 Dec 2019. But mocking in itself is not the issue.

Mocking ideas, beliefs, attitudes and lampooning foibles and behaviours has always been the role of the “all licensed fool” or the satirist. Shakespeare references the court jester or fool in a number of his plays. Such characters were not immune from drawing the displeasure of the powerful. While Erasmus suggested: “They can speak truth and even open insults and be heard with positive pleasure… “, people with very fixed positions haven’t always appreciated being lampooned or sent-up in parody, even by their own appointed jesters. This was seen directly in the Tudor period with the likes of William Somers and Richard Tarleton.

While these “fools” worked to reveal truths and break through the fawning of sycophants surrounding kings and queens, the mocking seen by the US President is of a very different nature. In his adopting the guise of the Fool and Jester, he is assuming a weapon to strike on behalf of his power in quite the opposite way of the traditional Fool. He is not revealing anything more than his own ingrained prejudice and sociopathic nature. This is a very different kind of mocking and should not be confused with the genuine value of the satirist and Licensed Fool.

Published by shadowhousepits

For more than twenty years, I have worked as a writer, theatre director, actor, dramaturg, producer and teacher. ​My work with Shadow House PITS best demonstrates a particular blending of Artaud’s ideal of a “theatre of cruelty”, Brecht’s “epic theatre” and the absurdist theatre of “Ionesco”. This website offers scripts and writings that illustrate this blending. Each script has had at least one season of public performances; most have had multiple seasons. Prior to Shadow House PITS I spent twenty years as a journeyman working at La Boite Theatre (1970s), being an Artistic Director of a theatre-in-education company (Jigsaw) and running a theatre school, Stagecoach (9 years). At one point I also was co-producer of a commercial theatre and bar (PITS) with David Bates. I regard all this prior time as doing a kind of dues in order to focus myself on what is necessary to write and produce work that has value. One needs to do one’s dues in order to have the temerity to declare one’s offerings for public perusal and judgement. Over recent years, I have produced and directed plays from the Western theatre canon, including: HAMLET, TAMING OF THE SHREW, TWELFTH NIGHT, KING LEAR and A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM by William Shakespeare and THE RESISTIBLE RISE OF ARTURO UI and MOTHER COURAGE by Bertolt Brecht and THE CRUCIBLE by Arthur Miller. These were all performed by student actors. My own work is more directly influenced by Antonin Artaud, Brecht, Ionesco and Butoh. Have a look at the sample texts and some of the video links. Consider purchasing one for yourself. I hope you enjoy your time here with Shadow House PITS.

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