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Parts Work and Fool

There is considerable overlap between parts work and the improvisational art form of fooling. When fooling is performed in the theatre, it's often about moving in and out of parts of self, quite literally through voice, gesture, posture, perspective, and location on stage. The source of these aspects of self depends on the facilitator/teacher but can be derived from personal feeling, pre-selected narrative, or the emotional quality that is moving through the audience. The idea, like with parts work, is that through this daring, shifting, moving, responding, welcoming, and naming, we eventually integrate what has been exiled, liberate ourselves into a freedom of being via becoming (Simondon), and invite the audience into a quality of presence whereby they can transmute some of the shame they may carry around being dangerously, vulnerably, transparently human.

Now, underpinning all my work is the idea of the multiplicity of self. None of us is one truth, one way of being, one opinion. We are all the things. Voicework is an effective way to approach the reintroduction of forgotten aspects of self and broaden the conception of identity. (I work in stark opposition to those facilitating voicework in order to discover a person's "one true voice.") We sound the ways we are afraid to be and the ways we have learned not to be. Within the safe container of song or vocal practice, we can begin to accept these different voices, these different acoustic identities - with the added therapeutic dimension of pairing these ways of being with our own creativity, agency, and playfulness.

The way I facilitate Fool is adjacent to both voicework and to fooling as described above but with several distinctions in both theory and execution. In Fool, we do not lead with the identification or labeling of parts because, ultimately, we cannot be divided into parts. A parts work framework is incredibly helpful - until it's not. When we are seeking healing, we naturally gravitate toward therapeutic modalities that bring order to chaos. When it works, when we establish a more organized internal rhythm or adopt a structure that helps us make sense of ourselves, we tend to stick with it and get stuck there, expecting order to also bring meaning. What addresses the time self (an essential step, mind you) often ignores the timeless self. Once we feel we can name every bit of who we are, we can end up placing ourselves into a new box (mis)labeled "liberation."

Because we are not silos, because we are responding instruments (Burroughs), the feeling of freedom that acceptance brings has an expiration date.

So yes, in Fool, we do step into the creative unknown and welcome back our exiled parts, but we do it while holding hands with something bigger than ourselves. We are in communion with self and what's beyond ourselves. We are digging and reaching, bringing everything we know and don't know (Kay). In that space, there is hope, imagination, and unlimited possibility. There is the infinite, the web of connection, and the understanding that we are much more than can ever be seen or named.

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