As a small girl, I read a Grimms' Fairy Tale where a fox helps a maiden (as kind as she beautiful, you know how it goes) then asks her a boon in return.
The maiden was in trouble (High Stakes). Saved by the fox, she is grateful to him and thanks him kindly. The maiden experiences a moment of respite, a sweet moment to exhale.
When the fox makes his request, she, being a good and kind maiden, is more than ready to grant the boon.
That's until she hears the fox's request:
'Cut off my head and my paws.'
... I can still remember my seven-year-old breath and brain being stopped by this benumbing horror.
The nice and kind maiden is locked into an impossible choice, a High Stakes Predicament. Bound by good manners and kindness (her USP, the defining code of her identity) - she is especially conflicted by the thought of picking up the axe and causing bloody and irrevocable harm.
In the story version I read as a child, the fox does not explain he is a Prince under a malign enchantment, who will be liberated by this action. This is a good exemplar, by the way, of the principle I impress on people during the Buzzer exercise: if the guard in attendance gees the prisoner along, then the person playing the prisoner loses the extra psychological pressure to make a decision (or knee-jerk reaction) against their own will, values and instincts. With sufficient (imaginary, of course) pressure, logical thought stalls, emotion short-circuits and the player can find themselves releasing into a panicked amygdala response, allowing the audience the possibility to witness a spontaneously-released extraordinary physiological response (a pulsing brow vein, an involuntary twitch or flinch ... ). This is one of the compelling features of the Dark Clown work. Remember how in a Red Nose Clown exercise we love to see the Clown thinking - for example, when another clown in the scene is being praised? We love the micro expressions, the niche reactions or 'tells' of humanity which the Sad Normals take considerable pains to mask or suppress. In Dark Clown I call this the Cost. The psychological Cost, the visible processing of thoughts and emotions of humanity in extremis.
I had been nursing this scenario for a while - and was delighted to find an opportunity to inaugurate it recently. On the July Level 2 Dark Clown course we only played the fox's role (although this scenario could give play-possibility for both fox and maiden).
The fox has the predicament of begging for harm to be done to him. It's a High Stakes predicament for the fox - his request is urgent. He needs to be decapitated to be free ... plus, maidens in need of help in a dark wood don't come along every five minutes. The fox has the constraint of not shocking or alienating the maiden; he must suppress his agitation and make his insane request sound doable and reasonable. If he were to get short-tempered, he would have reduced his chances of success significantly and would need to work hard (good play-possibilities to explore here) to gain back lost ground.
The maiden experiences the horrific conflict of being good and true and compliant, balanced against the prospect of causing atrocious harm. With no maiden player, the fox plays to the audience, who get to experience this dilemma as the maiden might.
Once players (course participants) are clear on the predicament, context and stakes, the play can begin. Remember that at this point we are looking for physical and verbal motifs, as well as being strategic with rhythms and vocal timbre / breath in general (Dark Side Play)
Similar to The Beloved Scenario, there must be no blame or blackmail on the part of the fox. A Fairytale Fox Dark Clown scene might go something like this:
'I helped you out of the forest ... so, now, chop off my head and paws.
Did you hear what I said?
Just ... just ... whhht whhht
... Ok, look. See that tree trunk over there? Mmhmm? No, the one to the left of that. Yes! Ok. See the axe?
It's O-Kay! ...
Just ... just ... (urging with an upward and over gesture of the eyes and head) just get it and ...
and ... you know ...
whhht whhht ... whhht!
Look, I'll shut my eyes ... Look, they're shut.
It's ok ...
(with eyes closed or one eye cracked)
Are you doing it? Are you?
Quick now ...
whhht whhht whhht! Now! ...
(squeezes eyes shut and braces)
(opens eyes fully, reacts to inactivity of audience / maiden)
Look, please. Honestly, I'd do it myself but ... look ... (waggle paws) ... paws! You see! You see, I can't ... can't actually hold ... can't ...
Ok look, I can get the axe for you, ok?
Ok I'll bring it to you ... '
The fox hops over to the tree trunk (good rhythm), with effort (3 tries), prises axe out of the tree trunk, making little effort sounds, finally has the axe in his jaws and, after a little balance difficulty:
whoah whoah woah
(lazzi of balancing the heavy axe)
... he brings the axe back in his mouth.
'Ere ... Ere ... Aake eee ashhe ... aake the ashhe. Chrom ma mouff ... ma mouff. 'eah.
Eee ashhe ... Aake it! Aake it!'
Have a look of these gorgeous Maiden and Fox images - relevant to the Alchemy of Archetypes course, too!