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How the Cino Looked – 2

Posted in Uncategorized by Robert on January 1, 1909
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Incidents, 1964

Photos by Peter Moore. Collection of Larry Loonin. Scanned by Carlo Altomare.



I would guess that you have never read a “script” like the one below. In 1962 I first performed something called Our First Gobi Fossils at the Spencer Memorial Church with Michael O’Donoghue playing the Tyrant. What follows below is about 50% of that play. I then acted in part of that script with Yvonne Rainer at the Cafe Cino and we called it INCIDENTS. Paul Libin of Circle in the Square then produced about 30% of the INCIDENTS production at the Martinque Theater in 1964 and we called it HAPPENINGS. It played for 4 months and admission was charged for the first time. The show then reverted to it’s original title for a short run at the Cafe Au-go-go. I then took the play just about every place I taught and Michael would come up to the college for a weekend’s performance. It played at the Franconia Summer Festival, Seton Hall, NYU, Univ. of New Mexico and the Univ. of South Florida (both without Michael in a version without a TYRANT), M.I.T., Bennington College and at Emerson College in a version called Committed to Memory (also without Michael). About 25% of the script was also produced at the UZ Company of Boston (1975) and it was combined with Andre Breton’s IF YOU PLEASE (without Michael). This version played over a 5 weekend stretch and what you might read below is perhaps 80% of that production.
My intention is to present the version below along with the second act of the Breton play in Sept. of 2008 at the Theater Lab on West 14th.
Our First Gobi Fossils
Larry Loonin
This version is created for a small white box that might seat only 40 people. There is a TYRANT and five performers who I shall call FIVE. (At times they will be known as One, Two, Three, Four, and Five).
The TYRANT stands in the space dressed in mis-matched heroic (silly) clothing. He faces the entrance door looking intently on the audience as they enter the space. He otherwise doesn’t move.
The audience enters the space in small groups and are escorted to at least ten chairs that are facing each other. Another 10 chairs are arranged so that the people sitting in them will think they are about to be an audience for a show. Each one of the FIVE sit across from a different member of the audience. Other chairs may also face each other.
When the audience and the FIVE have all entered the space a longish silence is followed by a blood curdling Kabuki like scream-screech from the TRYANT.
The five performers now address the person sitting directly opposite them. Each one of the FIVE says the first part of the “line” in the same way as the other four, but each changes the second half of the “line” accordingly. No gestures, please.
One–See what I made? I made this. Look, this is mine.
Two–See what I made? I made this. Look how this looks.
Three–See what I made? I made this. Look at this.
Four–See what I made? I made this. Look, I like doing this.
Five–See what I made? I made this. Look, I like feeling this.
As each of the FIVE repeat their line they begin to rise and repeat their line again to whomever they make eye-contact with. The FIVE gradually line up in a straight line one behind the next ready to embark on the Figure 5.
When all are in a line, the TYRANT approaches the people who are sitting in chairs that aren’t positioned with the ten chairs that make up the rest of the audience. His goal is “make an audience” out of the rest of the people seating them all together now facing the Figure 5. The TYRANT has four different lines to accomplish this: “Would you be so kind as to take your place with those who haven’t been chosen.” “If you haven’t been chosen would you join the others.” “If you rise, I will bring your chair over there to join the others who haven’t been chosen.” “Do you mind getting up and joining the unchosen.”
As the TYRANT creates an audience, the FIVE do the figure 5 finally with one person squished against the wall.
The TYRANT announces, “You are chosen,” and the FIVE quickly line up with their backs to the wall facing the TYRANT.
Scene 2
The lighting may change over a 30 second period and perhaps some Miles Davis is heard, but the lights return to how they were and the music fades out.
The TYRANT’S voice is heard: “At the revival meeting, the congregation reciting, singing, shouting with others can bring on a warm sweat that leads one to the conviction of eternal life, but in the early morning, there is only a cold sweat to keep you company.”
The FIVE now squirm, or stand errect, or harden oneself, or check for planes, or melt down, or beg, or look over the horizon, or think stoically. They do each action for a few moments, find the action unsatisfactory and try another action. Some move quickly while others move slowly, but each action must appear separate and distinct from the previous action.
The TYRANT now behaving like a Marine Drill Sargent chants, “Hut…Hut…Hut…Hut.”
The FIVE respond by hopping on one foot. The TYRANT approves of each of the FIVE in turn and says to each one:
“A Guggenheim. Here is a Guggenheim.”
“Ah, a research grant from the Dupont Corporation.”
“Tisch has money for a summer abroard.”
“A Fullbright for a vacation at Oxford.”
“Something from the Ford Foundation”
The TYRANT gives each of the FIVE a funny/absurd hat.
Each of the FIVE now move into the Figure 8. The two that aren’t in the Figure 8 change their costume. The Figure 8 continues until all of the FIVE have new mismatched clothing. The two not in the Figure 8 address the audience as the others in the Figure 8 gradually peel off and also address the audience with their line. The FIVE speak proudly and expect recognition from the audience.
One-  “I see New Horizons.”
Two-  “We found our first Gobi Fossils.”
Three- “This saxaphone feels just right.”
Four-  “I’ll perfect my jump shot in the spring.”
Five-   “I’m looking for the next challenge.”
Scene 3
The lighting may change over a 30 second period and perhaps some Miles Davis is heard, but the lights return to how they were and the music fades out. The FIVE have moved confidently to the wall and face the TYRANT.
The TYRANT speaks. “This is a multiple choice. There is an odd member in the group and you are to tell me which one is the odd member. You are to identify the one that does not belong. You are to select the outsider. The four choices are One, Hockey…Two, Billiards…Three, Cricket…and Four Football…There is one correct answer. Which one do you choose?.”
The FIVE begin tentatively, not wanting to make a mistake, but gradually they gain more confidence and each commit to an answer:
Billiards, the others are team games.
Football, the ball is oblong.
Cricket, it’s the only one that is particularly English.
Football, it’s the only one played without a stick.
Football, it’s the dirtiest.
Hockey, it’s even rougher.
Billiards, it’s played on a table.
Hockey, it’s played on ice.
Football, my father was good at it.
Cricket, I’ve never played it.
Billiards, it’s played by individuals rather than people in a group.
The FIVE now resort to calling out an answer without giving a reason. The two that think Football is correct begin to push the other three about.
The TYRANT shouts gibberish as if a football coach. “Get down. Down on the goal line. Eat that dirt. Stick ’em. Stuff ’em. Fuck ’em. Jump ’em. Shove ’em. Kiss those mother fuckers”
Suddenly the FIVE throw their hands up in air the way winners do. Two of them shout the line while three shout the same line in response. “I did it…You did it…He did it…She did it…We did it…They did it…”
The FIVE hug each other and then celebrate with the audience by giving them high fives and big smiles.
Scene 4
The lighting may change over a 30 second period and perhaps some Miles Davis is heard, but the lights return to how they were and the music fades out.
The TYRANT signals the FIVE to quiet down and now sit facing him. They quietly do so, one by one.
The TYRANT reads a “sermon”.  “The sounds of a dying tradition are painful…particularly if the tradition’s value is still so apparent…at least to the mourners…AND still so vibrant to a wide number of sympathizers…BUT they are all the more distressing if the imminent demise seems a result of previous carelessness or willful neglect…. I won’t idealize idolatry…
BUT I ask you…what happened?…WHAT HAPPENED? “
There is a thoughtful silence.
The FIVE now whisper into the ear of a member of the audience.
One-   What happened to a liberal arts education?
Two-   What happened to classical music?
Three- What happened to our Constitution?
Four-   What happened to all the Marxists?
Five-    What happened to Abbie Hoffman?
Each of the FIVE asks the assigned question of only one person so that only one person hears the question. They may repeat the question only two more times (each time whispering it) if they think the audience member hasn’t heard the quesiton.
The FIVE are not to enter into a dialog or respond in any way other than asking the question. A conversation may develop, and hopefully will develop among audience members.
At the proper moment the TYRANT exclaims: “Enough…You have not been chosen…yet!”
The FIVE scamper to new positions facing the audience in a line.
Scene 5 
The lighting may change over a 30 second period and perhaps some Miles Davis is heard, but the lights return to how they were and the music fades out.
The TYRANT moves slowly to the back of the theater. He disappears.
One of the FIVE collapses to the floor. He/she waits ten seconds and rises.
Two of the FIVE says, “You lived in an area where earthquakes were likely. Why didn’t you move?”
Three of the FIVE bends over holding his/her stomach. In agony she/he falls to the floor. Waits ten seconds and rises.
Four of the FIVE says, “You contracted an incurable disease. You should have been more careful.”
Five of the FIVE rocks back and forth with his hands over his head. He suddenly falls to the floor. Waits ten seconds and rises.
One of the FIVE says, “You lived in a war zone. You should have taken cover.”
Two of the FIVE licks his mouth searching for something wet. She/he slowly sinks to the floor. Waits ten seconds and rises.
Three of the FIVE says, “You lived in a ghetto. You should have gotten a job.”
Four of the FIVE trembles feebly. He/she sinks to the floor. Waits ten seconds and rises.
Five of the FIVE say, “You lived too long. You should have passed sooner.”
The FIVE now bow their heads as if at a graveside funeral.
The TYRANT now dressed as an undertaker walks toward the FIVE. “There is a cold way of talking about death. One can talk about it in an academic way. One can talk about it like a clerk…abruptly…punctually…without sentiment…One may talk about death and not be there. One can be less there than the deceased…One may talk and be dead…Talking is a way of not being there…”
The TYRANT now sits in a chair with other members of the audience.
Scene  6

The lighting may change over a 30 second period and perhaps some Miles Davis is heard, but the lights return to how they were and the music fades out.
The FIVE on cue chatter with each other in different groupings. They sometimes whisper and sometimes raise their voices, but we can’t make out what they are saying. “Furthermore” “Of Course, of course” “But” “Not necessarily” “And”
One turns towards the audience and says, “Experts debate the survival of man. Conclusion is a probable…yes…but the circumstances are left open.”
More chatter.
Two turns towards the audience and says, “Concerned citizens debated the subject and after many hours concluded that the answer to the large question was…a probable yes.”
More chatter.
Three turns towards the audience and says, “The discussion was held after a luncheon in the ivory-hued elegancy of the grand ballroom with an audience of fifty…The conference concluded with a statement by those in attendance…
Four says, “If man cannot adapt… he does not deserve to survive.”


Five says, “If man cannot adapt…she does not deserve to survive.”
On cue the FIVE remove clothing and drop it to the floor. Some pick up clothing that is now on the floor and while peering into an imaginary mirror put the new clothing on . Some don’t put on any other clothing. Some have new clothing under the old clothing that they have shed.
The TYRANT addresses what’s happening from the audience. He speaks calmly, perhaps with a pointer as if describing what happened at Hiroshima. “We discover that we do not know our role…we look for a mirror…we want to remove our make-up and take off what is false and be real…But somewhere a piece of disguise…that we didn’t catch…or forgot about…sticks to us…A trace of exaggeration remains in our eyebrows…we don’t notice that the corners of our mouth are bent…And so we move about…a mockery…a mere half…neither having achieved a true state of being…nor as actors…
The FIVE stop moving and now stare over the heads of the audience.
The TYRANT returns to the stage in a somewhat jolly manner. He smiles. “Horace once said, ‘The well informed philosopher… rejoices with a wholesome fear…and hopes in spite of the abyss…If winter bellows from the north…soon the sweet springs  will come dancing forth… and nature laughs again’.”
The FIVE now repeat their previous lines:
One-  “I see New Horizons.”
Two-  “We found our first Gobi Fossils.”
Three- “This saxaphone feels just right.”
Four-  “I’ll perfect my jump shot in the spring.”
Five-   “I’m looking for the next challenge.”
The TYRANT in a jocular manner says, “They were chosen…Actually…you too have been chosen…We didn’t get a chance to call on you…Perhaps…next time…”
The TYRANT leaves the space.
Two says, “We found our first Gobi Fossils…We found our first Gobi Fossils…We found our first Gobi Fossils.” as the lights fade and perhaps Miles Davis is heard.
The End

One Response

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  1. Robert Patrick said, on April 6, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    Please include an e-mail address when you make a Comment. Thank you.

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