The Three Men of Gotham - Edward Gordon Craig


3 pages


The Three Men of Gotham

A Blithering Interlude for Burattini

Edward Gordon Craig | 1918 | Rapallo, Italy
Genre (as defined by the author)
Three Compatriotes
Number of acts

The Three Men of Gotham is one of the interludes of The Drama for Fools, 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 many 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.

This interlude is the only one written for glove puppets (burratini) specifically. The inspiration for the interlude came from a collection of comical anecdotes about the inhabitants of Gotham (a village in Nottinghamshire) who, according to legend, were all insane. Craig makes the glove puppets speak in a rhythmic way, causing efficient comic moments, as shown by the opening lines:

FIRST MAN OF GOTHAM. (Silly one.) Where be thee and-a-bo-hop goin’ ?
SECOND. (Cross one.) To Gotha.
FIRST. Where may that bo-and-a-be ?
SECOND. That be where I be-and-a-bo-hop goin’.
FIRST. Ah ! That be where I be-and-a-boo-hop goin’ too.

Plot summary

Three mad men argue

Two inhabitants from Gotham run into each other on a bridge. The first inhabitant asks the second one where he is going and what he is about to do. The second one answers that he is going to Gotham, and the first one adds that he is headed to Nottingham to buy sheep. After many misunderstandings, the second citizen states that he will forbid the first one to cross the bridge upon his return. They both fight with wooden sticks without actually hitting each other, and they raise a cloud of dust. A third inhabitant arrives with a donkey that carries sacks of wheat grains. He makes fun of them, and asks them to empty the sacks into the river to explain that their heads are as empty as these bags.

Related works
All about the Merry Tales of Gotham1900
The Drama for Fools, Edward Gordon Craig1914-1918
Composition date

First performance

London, Great Britain, 2007 -

An Evening of Puppetry, Royal Holloway University of London, Department of Drama & Theatre, Handa Not Theatre, 22 mars 2007.

Publications and translations


Edward Gordon Craig, The Three Men of Gotham, Florence, 1919.

Modern edition

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, Absurd
Animations techniques
Not specified
Institut International de la Marionnette & Edward Gordon Craig Estate


Theatrical techniques


Written by

Didier Plassard