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A Foolish Giant Residency, or how to brighten a dull dark week in February.

To the wild gypsy strains of the Serbian "No Smoking Band", the Mulla Nasrudin - the Hodja - the Wise Fool, trotted into the Conference of Fools sitting, as always, backwards on his donkey. He greeted a bizarre and unlikely throng consisting of Ninnyologists, and the subjects of their scrutiny, Ninnies; some of the inhabitants of Hollowhead village and their chroniclers; and a group of travelling players including Osammy Binliner, Bulldog the Skinhead and the Lady Diana Deveraux "Death-throes" Huntington-Smythe, all under (literally) the presiding presences of the towering Lord and lady of Misrule.

This was the celebratory culmination of our National Storytelling Week "Sillies" workshops at William Brookes School in Much Wenlock for the Winter's Edge Festival.
A 'Sillies' show was commissioned from Michael by the Festival at the Edge.The show revels in our common daftness, for fools are everywhere - in the next village, in the next country, in the next continent, even next door. Foolishness is what unites us and the person who imagines s/he has never been a fool is the biggest fool of all. As Mark Twain once said, "The first day of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year."

In Much Wenlock 3 groups of 10 or so 11-15 yr olds had one 1 hr session a day for 5 days with Wendy to design and make wholehead masks for their characters as foolish villagers, big-head carnival masks for the Ninnies, two toweringly huge giants - the toothy spotty and squat (a mere 8' tall) Lord of Misrule and his 11' tall elegant consort Lady of the Sparking Eyelashes, and the piece de resistance - a pantomime donkey upon whom the Hodja rode backwards. These tasks were executed with wonderful enthusiasm and panache.

Simultaneously with Michael more splendid young people invented foolish villages and the stories of their inhabitants, developed the glorious imaginative pseudosciece of Ninnyology, learned to perform Hodja stories, practised gibberish and wrote and then performed a thoroughly modern mummer's play in doggerel. Then it was all flung together with improvised silly costumes and performed with great verve to a packed audience, ushered in by the archetypal cleaning lady and recorded by local radio for posterity.

Robert Petty, head of drama, bless him, put up with all this nonsense and was full of good humour and free lunches, despite a plague hitting the school - and he lent us a splendid theatre technician who added swirly lights, sound, and a "bomb" which produced such impressive quantities of smoke that the proceedings could be said to have ended not with a bang but with a truly mindbaffling fog. So we have no photos at all - that would be MUCH too sensible!

- For further performances of Michael's solo "Sillies" show keep an eye on news or join our mailing list. Please contact us if you fancy a giant puppet residency , silly or otherwise!



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