The Roman Adventure - Parts Two & Three - Edward Gordon Craig


6 pages


The Roman Adventure - Parts Two & Three

The Magic Ass and The Magic Stick

Edward Gordon Craig | 1916 | Marina di Pisa, Italy
The King, The Queen, The Princess Razzlemond, Cockatrice, Columbus, Blind-Boy, The Magic Fiddle, Brickle-Brit, Landlord of the "Royal George", Courtiers, Guards, Warder, Two Clerks, Executioner, Captain of the Guard, Spectators, A Marionette
Number of acts

The Drama for Fools is a large-scale dramatic cycle containing multiple puppet plays. This cycle kept Craig exceedingly busy between 1916 and 1918. It was supposed to hold 365 short plays and be performed like a traveling show: each night, from 31 April to 31 March, a new play would be shown in a new location. Craig, who wrote his plays under the pen name Tom Fool, stopped writing before the cycle was finished and gave up on performing the play himself.

Nonetheless, he stored his drafts in three cardboard boxes, as a collection of typewritten notebooks containing a myriad of illustrations and whose covers display words written in colourful calligraphy. He cared immensely for these notebooks, as he improved, corrected, and supplemented them until the 1950s. This collection is today held at the Institut International de la Marionnette in Charleville-Mézières.

In this play, which follows The Painter and the Three Magics and The Roman Adventure, the three main characters (Blind Boy, Cockatrice and Columbus the Parrot) use the magical objects previously gifted by old Adam.

These objects are directly borrowed from the folktale Tischchen deck dich, Goldesel und Knüppel aus dem Sack (The Wishing-Table, the Gold-Ass and the Cudgel in the Sack), mostly known through the Brothers Grimm’s rewriting. After the interlude Cockatrice – On the Road to Rome ends, the plot resumes with Cockatrice being subject to the Landlord’s greed (just like Columbus in the first part) and with Blind Boy rescuing them both.

The theme of the magical violin is also taken up from a tale by the Brothers Grimm, Der Jude im Dorn (The Jew Among Thorns).

Plot summary

The protagonist saves his friends from execution.

Cockatrice arrives at the Royal George Inn and impersonates Charlie Chaplin. The Landlord discovers that Cockatrice’s Magic Donkey creates gold coins, and he swaps it with his own donkey while Cockatrice is asleep. During an interlude, a Marionette informs the audience that a scene will not be acted. The scene was supposed to show the meeting between Cockatrice and the King to show his Magic Donkey create coins; the latter, having been switched, cannot do so, and Cockatrice is sent to jail. The curtain opens up to Blind Boy’s arrival at the inn. The Landlord tries to steal Blind Boy’s bag while he is asleep; Blind Boy wakes up and orders the Magic Stick to beat him. The Landlord confesses that he also stole the Magic Table and the Magic Donkey, but he explains that he was once a prince who became enamoured with Princess Razzlemond and that an evil fairy changed him into a Landlord and cursed him to steal all of his clients until one defeated him - just as Blind Boy did. In order to make amends, he gifts Blind Boy a Magic Fiddle that forces everyone to dance. Cockatrice and Columbus sing in their cell to kill time. They are brought to the public place to be tortured, judged, and executed before the King and Princess Razzlemond. Blind Boy interrupts the scene and, thanks to his Magic Fiddle, forces everyone to dance until the King pardons Cockatrice and Columbus. Princess Razzlemond asks Blind Boy to marry her, but he tells her to go to the inn, where her Prince, the former Landlord, awaits her.

Related works
Tischchen deck dich, Goldesel und Knüppel aus dem Sack
The Drama for Fools, Edward Gordon Craig1914-1918
Der Jude im Dorn
Composition date
June 1916

Publications and translations


Edward Gordon Craig, The Drama for Fools / Le Théâtre des fous. Montpellier: L'Entretemps, 2012.

  • Edward Gordon Craig, The Drama for Fools / Le Théâtre des fous. Montpellier: L'Entretemps, 2012.


Conservation place

Institut International de la Marionnette - Charleville-Mézières, France
Literary tones
Comical, Satirical, Fantasy
Animations techniques
String marionette
Not specified
Institut International de la Marionnette & Edward Gordon Craig Estate


Theatrical techniques


Written by

Didier Plassard