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Chaptor 11: The Licensed Fools Workshop

Do I think everyone should become licensed fools?

No, I see it like this, there are professional dancers, but most can find enjoyment from dancing no matter their skill level. Just replace dancer with Licensed Fool. Now imagine a world where nobody dances and there are no venues for people to dance in. That is a pretty upside down world is it not? That is how I feel in regards to the Licensed Fool, there are no spaces where one can safely explore without being evaluated, no venues where ideas of correct and incorrect behaviour are discarded, no places to truly explore. Everywhere I look there is always a structure of accepted behaviour, a scale from which one is evaluated, a uniform and some sort of group signifier. Most spaces, organizations, groups and religion have pre-existing rules of conduct. From my perspective, our society is truly upside down.   

When I host a Licensed fools workshop there are three rules:

  1. Respect each other.
  2. Do not bring any deadly or harmful objects.
  3. Respect the space.

If I would be able to construct my own space, I could remove rule three. Furthermore, I tell people that if they discover that the experience is not for them they are free to leave at any time. Those who take part are made aware that they are responsible for their own emotions, they chose themselves how they react to what they experience and it is up to them to know oneself and understand if it is not something one wishes to endure.

The Licensed Fools works shop is meant to give you the opportunity to explore what you want and lets you go as far as you wish. It is not a place for you to be entertained, instead, it is up to you to be active or passive. I believe the workshop can inspire, create bonds, release stress, help with depression, anxiety, creativity and social skills. How? Because it is playful, liberating and non-judgmental. There is no magic, superstition, hocus pocus, science or religion involved, you won’t be enlightened or receive blessings and good fortune, instead, anything you get will come from your self, determined by what you put in. Ultimately though what you chose is the right choice, since there are no wrong choices.

The Workshop is an evolving entity, but I have often run it with the following methodology and structure.

The methodology I use to reach the Licensed Fool is free association, most commonly used with writing, but I also apply it to performance, where one says and acts whatever comes to mind without censoring one’s behaviour. There is no keyword or starting point, only what is in one’s head at the beginning of the exercise.

Maximum 9 people within a barren room with no windows and one open exit. The participants wear comfortable close they can roll around in, bring pen and paper and one non-lethal object that may be destroyed during the workshop,  

The first exercise is 10-minute free association writing, followed by introducing oneself and reading all or a fragment from one’s writing. Then each person puts there one object in the middle of the room and we start the free associate performance to release our inner Licensed Fool, I normally run this for 45 minutes, but hope that one day I will have the opportunity to experiment with longer durations. Afterwards, we tidy up and spend some time coming down and finish off with a group dialogue.

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