Two Moles Going Home
Two Moles Going Home is de voorstelling en master thesis die ik schreef op de master Directing van Bath Spa University. Ik deed onderzoek naar absurdisme voor een jong publiek.
Two Moles Going Home is an absurdist play for children aged 4+. It is a play about despair, being
stuck and the search for meaning. It is not, as the title of the play may suggest, a heroic epos about
two moles and their journey home, while facing one major conflict. It is not set in a naturalistic world
nor in real time. The two blind moles have lost their noses and wait endlessly for help.
In this paper I will set out how I developed the script as a writer-director, for my MA Directing Major
Project at Bath Spa University.
The first aim of this project was to develop and enhance my professional practice, by developing
skills that enable the creation of original work. I extended my professional profile through writing
and by gaining a better understanding of dramaturgy. As a director I explored a new starting point:
writing a new script with the intention of directing the piece myself.
The second aim of this project was to explore the possibility of writing an absurdist drama for young
children, aged 4+.
The Theatre of the Absurd is a form of drama in which the thesis that the human condition is absurd
is presented through means which reflect that absurdity. It was not at all developed for children, but
my hypothesis is that the Theatre of the Absurd is actually very accessible and enjoyable for a young
audience. Children love that way of thinking, the fantasy and the humour, the imagination and the
non-logic logic. This is a Practice as Research project, exploring one of the many forms theatre for
young audiences can take. Are those forms and themes as infinite as theatre for adults? And also: is
children’s experience of the absurd more pure and sincere than ours, the adult audience?
David Edgar argues is his book How Plays Work that there are some rules every playwright has to deal
with. He is not talking here about Aristotle’s unity of time and place, but about elements of
constructing: the architecture. However free in form contemporary drama may appear to be, he
asserts, playwrights need to know the dramatic rules of various kinds, including generic and other
conventions, because audiences are at least a little familiar with them based on their experience of
other plays (2012 p. 15). But what does this mean when writing for a young audience? An audience
often without expectations built on experience of other plays? An audience for whom staying seated
and being quiet is already a difficult convention to cope with? Can one create an absurd play for this
audience? A play not absurd in the way it turns theatre rules around, but in that it gives a young
audience an absurd experience in itself?
On 19 November 1957 a group of anxious actors were preparing to face their audience. The actors
were horrified as the audience consisted of fourteen hundred convicts at the San Quentin
penitentiary. No live play had been performed there in 40 years, and now the play to be performed,
largely chosen because no woman appeared in it, was Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. The play began
and what had bewildered the intellectual audiences of Paris and London, was grasped by the convicts.
They loved it, perhaps because it confronted them with a situation similar to their own, but also
because they watched it without preconceived notions. They did not make the mistake of condemning
the play for its lack of plot and development. Without any frame of context, they weren’t just
intensely moved by the play; they understood absurdism in a way that the intellectuals could not
(Esslin 1961 p. 1).
I am proposing that the young audience will respond in the same way to absurdism, as children are
blank pages. However, their inexperience doesn’t mean children don’t have the capacity to
understand big universal themes that might be ordinarily believed to be only for adults. “Children
live in the same world as we do” (Reason 2010, p. 32) and human questions about life and meaning are not unfamiliar to them. In Two Moles Going Home I gave shape to those big themes and
existential questions and made them accessible for a very young audience, by giving the play an
absurd form I expect children to love.
In this paper I will reflect on the decisions I made in creating theatricality that not only serves the
absurdism in the play, but also enables a young audience to receive it. Those decisions were
influenced by questions asked by a dramaturg, by working with actors on a Zoom recorded reading of
the play, by audience research I have done, illustrations I have made and by literature research into
the Theatre of the Absurd.