Shopping - Edward Gordon Craig


3 pages



Edward Gordon Craig | 1916 | Marina di Pisa, Italy
Genre (as defined by the author)
The Shadow of the Shopman, The Real Lady, The Real Gentleman, The Real Horror, The Real Artist, John Ruskin, Charles Darwin, Buddha, Ahha, Parrot
Number of acts

The Drama for Fools is a large-scale dramatic cycle containing multiple interludes, including Shopping. 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.

The script of this interlude has a distinctive and groundbreaking characteristic for the time, as it combines multiple types of puppets within a single performance: marionettes (The Real Lady, The Real Gentleman), a shadow figure (The Shadow of the Shopman), a giant puppet (Van Gogh), and two flat puppets (John Ruskin and Charles Darwin).

Plot summary

A woman buys the foil she needs

The Real Lady enters a shop to buy a foil that will accompany her in her social engagements. The Shopman first recommends her a “Real Horror”, whom she turns down. Then, he introduces the Real Artist, the Van Gogh model (only his legs and shoes are visible), but he growls whenever he hears about money and the Shopman advises her against buying it in the end. He suggests a Marionette instead – The Real Gentleman. The Real Lady inspects it closely, buys it and gets out of the shop with it, carrying it around on a leash. From behind a window, art historian John Ruskin and naturalist Charles Darwin followed and briefly commented on the scene. The interlude concludes with other remarks, from Buddha and Ahha, who appeared in a version of The First Prologue and who, accompanied by Parrot, were supposed to travel throughout centuries in the Drama for Fools initial project.

Related works
The Drama for Fools, Edward Gordon Craig1914-1918
Composition date

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.

Literary tones
Comical, Satirical, Absurd
Animations techniques
String marionette, Shadow theatre, Silhouette, Giant marionette
Not specified
Institut International de la Marionnette & Edward Gordon Craig Estate


Theatrical techniques


Written by

Didier Plassard