Playwright Doesn't Mind Playing the Fool for the Stage

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), August 24, 2007 | Go to article overview

Playwright Doesn't Mind Playing the Fool for the Stage


Byline: Jack Helbig

John Pierson has played the fool many times - as an actor/writer in "Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind" and as a performer in various bands, including the now disbanded cult neo-punk band Screeching Weasel. Known for his quick wit and his even quicker, full-throttle physical style, Pierson has made a career of mixing comedy with more serious themes.

Now, in his latest show, "The Fool (Returns to His Chair)," opening Saturday at the Neo-Futurarium, Pierson, and an ensemble of writers, actors and musicians, will explore the role the fool plays in theater, in art and in society.

By fools Pierson means people who for one reason or another don't easily fit into normal society and who use being an outsider to comment on normal society. Court jesters are a famous example of fools. Stand-up comedians are modern-day fools.

"I wanted to write about fools," Pierson said, "because over the years my full commitment to being an artist has seemed increasingly foolish. I don't know how to get a job. I often feel very much on the outside of things."

If this sounds both kinda fun and vaguely high brow, it should. Shows that are both funny and smart are the house style for the Neo-Futurists, the theater company that continues to bring us the long-running "Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind."

Pierson came up with the idea for "The Fool" in February 2006 but didn't gather an ensemble of fellow fools until this past January. Once he had his cast together, they started to write the show.

"The project was to read all about fools," Pierson explained, "and create a show from what we found. We wanted to include stuff on all of the fools we could find. …

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