The Washtub Farce

Programming / Short Play.

Pushed into my retrenchments, and without a single show seen for months, and for months to come, I am forced to confess one of my other great passions: the Middle Ages.

I love Lancelot as much as Sherlock Holmes, Renard as much as Ethan Hunt, Aliénor d’Aquitaine as much as Miss Marple. Well. I’m sorry.

You won’t find me in girls’ stores, but if you see a girl standing in front of The Life of Charlemagne, it might be me – by the way, this will be my Christmas present. So cool and not expensive at all.

It’s not very easy to use the Middle Ages in contemporary life. At first glance, it’s a completely courteous love, and totally useless.
I’ve read entire shelves of stories straight from these incredible centuries, and the miracle has been that these stories are quite, but then quite in tune with the times for our young people: they are funny, they are epic, they are fantastic.

Without Altair’s support, they are of no use to me at all.
But if Altair has to be invented, then here they are, rushing in front of the artists’ entrance, all these totally zany medieval farces.

So today, it will be a farce that I will draw from my secret trunk full of forgotten texts.

I have found only one translation in English – in French it’s called: La farce du cuvier. For you, it must be : The Washtub Farce.
It is the story of a poor boy, nicknamed Jaquinot, who finds himself trapped between his wife and his mother-in-law.

They made him a list of all the work he had to do – and the nice boy had signed it.
And then, as it’s a farce, our two charming ladies went to the limit: he does all this work, and it was not the time of household appliances.

And here Jacquinot and his sweet wife find themselves near the huge vat that was used to clean the dirty laundry.
It was really a very large vat.
You could drown in it.

The beautiful wife, no doubt pushed by the demon of kindness and gentleness, wanting to motivate her husband to work, finds herself slipping and falling into the vat.
What to do then?

The husband has to stop his household chores – but he has signed: he must not stop them, under any circumstances.
He rereads the list: doing the dishes, scrubbing the dishes, baking the bread, heating the oven, keeping the kitchen neat and clean, taking the grain to the mill, not forgetting to sift …. but nowhere, at no point, does it say that he must take his wife out of the water. It is not in the worklist.

I’ll pass you the end – it’s a Farce, we’re not here to scare the audience, we’re here to make them laugh.

It has to be silly, completely silly even, fast, surprising, and the fools have to be punished.

For Altair, this piece has a lot of advantages: it is short, it is funny and it is accessible to everyone without any “intellectual” problems.

It should therefore be part of the large collection of short plays that should absolutely be included in the theatre’s programming – in order to be able to offer the Virtual Reality experiences associated with a performance – and all this without taking up too much of the spectators’ time.

I’ve already talked about this time trap that must be kept in mind if Altair wants to work.

And since it’s an ultra-physical, three-character play, can you imagine the pleasure of living it in virtual reality? From one to three people – who play the play again, all thanks to the harnesses that force you to move, but yes, to get out of the tank or to leave “my sweet, my love” at the bottom of its tub.

You could tell me that it doesn’t work very well with the beautiful love stories of Tristan and Isolde and Swan Lake. That’s true. Well. It’s not untrue. An ugly laughing spirit – let’s say, Puck’s ugly spirit – would tell you that not at all, the joke is related to the beautiful love stories. They are “before” – and the farce is after the wedding. My goodness! I say horrors like that? No, not me – an ugly laughing spirit.

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Featured Image : miniature illumination : the day of the sheets.

Beware – if you bother me, tomorrow I’ll throw you at my favorite fox.

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