“A meeting of two: eye to eye, face to face.
And when you are near I will tear your eyes out
and place them instead of mine,
and you will tear my eyes out
and will place them instead of yours,
then I will look at me with mine.”
[and see me for the first time.]
― Jacob Levy Moreno
Last weekend while at my volunteer post in a local museum, the director casually asked when the next Agincourt exhibit might be expected. Frankly, the thought had never entered my mind: despite my own enthusiastic engagement with the ongoing project, it had never occurred to me that any of the visitors to either of the two exhibits (2007 and 2015) could possibly muster the strength for another bout. The seed safely planted, it took just a couple days to send out some tendrils.
Among the many undeveloped ideas for wither of the previous exhibits, there was one for a puppet theatre, or more properly, marionette. The story line involves Dr Reinhold Kölb’s clinic Walden Retreat, southeast of town along the banks of Crispin Creek. Among the good doctor’s innovative therapeutic techniques was one adapted from the psychodrama therapy of his former Viennese colleague Jacob Levy Moreno. Kölb’s spin on the technique was to combine puppet theatre (marionettes, actually) and aspects of Japanese Noh plays, at least insofar as they can be understood and adapted by Westerners unfamiliar with Japanese culture and language. I had thought to make a puppet stage for the 2015 exhibit but, like so many ideas for which I lack an appropriate skill set, it went like snow on water. Perhaps with a new fire built beneath me (and some woodshop experience), Kölb’s experiment will finally take physical form.
To pull this off, I have to undertake several unfamiliar tasks:
- Designing and building a stage and, presumably, some of the necessary scenery;
- Constructing marionettes and their costumes (Do you think Mr Vandervort will buy into this nonsense?);
- And, naturally, write the play that would have been acted out by several of Dr Kölb’s “guests”.
Wish me luck. And don’t hold your breath.
PS: Since we don’t yet have a photo of Dr Kölb, do you think it would be kosher to borrow one of his friend Levy Moreno?
PS: The story thus far:
The interconnectedness of Agincourt’s stories provided an opportunity to link Dr Kölb with another character, Jim Tierney¹, eventual director of Agincourt’s theatre company. It was one of the last of these performances that convinced the your Tierney to pursue a career in the dramatic arts.
Kölb’s methods worked like this: Each patient at Walden will develop a character — who might be themselves, someone they know (a family member or authority figure), possibly a stranger, or a mythical being not even necessarily a human being — an avatar of sorts, a creature which either frustrates or facilitates, through whom they would express their situation (i.e., condition; the reason they’ve come to Walden) and interact with others. With Kölb’s guidance in group therapy sessions and individual counseling, the story line will develop, each participant effectively being a therapist for the others [“and when you are near I will tear your eyes out and place them instead of mine…”]. Then, while the script develops, each player builds a puppet/marionette, as well as its costume, and learns the rudiments of puppetry. It is easier to speak in public through the mouth of another, just as it is to see through their eyes.
“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.” – Carl Jung. [I suspect it also works the other way.]
¹ Jim Tierney, by the way, is a thinly veiled inclusion of an actual person probably known to most of those who read this blog.