Excerpt from Keith Johnstone’s newsletter Gorilla and Maestro (Nov. 98)
Gorilla Theatre is not for beginners.
A large board to one side of the stage says:
THE PLAYER RESPONSIBLE
FOR THIS SCENE IS…
Below this is a slot into which players will slide their names when they wish to direct their colleagues, perhaps demanding a scene in which a beggar is kicked and turns out to be Jesus, or a passionate love-story in which someone makes the wrong choice.
Boldly announce the nature of your scene (so that we’ll know exactly what you’re struggling to achieve), for example: “I want to see an out of work parent who is too poor to buy a Christmas present for a child.”
Fight for the scene you want by throwing in dialogue, by starting it again, be recasting it, by ejecting someone and taking their role (the ultimate insult in the Professional Theatre), and so on. The struggle to attain your vision is at the heart of Gorilla Theatre and makes it unlike any other form.
When the directors have no idea what they want — apart from entertaining the audience – Gorilla Theatre is just another way of packaging the ‘same old stuff’. But a series of fights to achieve something worthwhile can be wonderful to watch.
Without a Gorilla the game reverts to ‘My Scene Impro’, but a gorilla adds to the ‘spectacle’. Purchase several costumes and launder them frequently. The ‘fur’ has to be shaggy. Commercial gorilla costumes can be ordered via carnival shops.