Study Guide for Gog and Magog: Two Clowns Trapped In Hell
Writer and Director, Jeffrey Colangelo delves into the history and topics that were integral in creating Gog and Magog: Two Clowns Trapped In Hell.
What or Who is Gog and Magog?
Oddly enough this simple question has a very complex answer. Gog and Magog are names that appear in the Book of Ezekiel. While they are often referenced in association with the bringers of the apocalypse or the religious end times, their names are utilized somewhat indiscriminately. Sometimes they refer to two individual people, sometimes to whole tribes, and sometimes to a particular land or country.
In history, Gog and Magog has been a term used by the Romans to describe the Germanic Barbarians, by the Turks to describe the Mongols, by the Russians to describe America in the Cold War (and vice versa), and by even George Bush to describe the Middle East.
Through these many different contexts we can see that while the application of the names Gog and Magog differs from time to time, the intent is always the same: Gog and Magog is used to identify another culture as the other, the barbaric, the ugly, an attempt to demonize another group of people and make them appear less human and more brutish.
It was this intent behind usage of Gog and Magog that drew us to utilizing these names during our developmental process. We thought that clowning, an art form that often revels in humanity’s ugly, base, messy, and sometime barbaric side, would be the perfect medium to explore the Gog and Magog myth from our “barbarians” perspective. This brought to mind many interesting questions as we set about creating this script and developing the characters of Gog and Magog: “What if an audience had a chance to sympathize with the other, our barbarians? Would they still remain Gog and Magog, or would some other entity gain the title once we had learned to sympathize with these two? “
Why set the play in Hell’s Kitchen? Why stick Gog and Magog there?
To answer that, we need to look at the Islamic faith, which describes Gog and Magog as being trapped behind a huge wall of iron ingot. In this very interesting quote from a narration of Sayyidna Abu Hurairah (RA) Gog and Magog or “Ya’ juj and Ma’juj” are described thusly:
“Ya’juj Ma’juj keep digging through the Wall of Dhul-Qarnain. Doing it everyday they reach the farthest part of this iron Wall so close as would make the light on the other side become visible to them. But, at that point, they say that they would dig all the way through it the next day, and return. However, Allah Ta'ala makes it as strong as it was all over again. Then comes the next day and they start anew to dig through it. This cycle of their effort to dig and demolish and that of mending and fortify ing from Allah's side will continue until such time up to which Allah Ta'ala intends to hold back Ya’juj Ma’juj. And when He intends to release them, they will dig, reach the farthest limit and say, 'If Allah wills, we shall go across it tomorrow.' (By making their effort dependent on the name and will of Allah, they will have the tauwiq to succeed) So, when they return the next day as usual, they will find the remaining non-dug portion of the Wall as they had left it and this they will demolish and go across.”
Essentially, Gog and Magog are described as being trapped in an endless cycle of trying to break free of their iron prison, forever trapped until God wills their freedom.
This concept of being stuck in an endless cycle, is why we see Gog and Magog trapped in a kitchen, trying to cook food for God for their freedom, but consistently failing because of God’s will.
But why a kitchen and not an iron wall?
The intent of this piece of course is not to faithfully recreate the descriptions and concepts that these religious texts present of Gog and Magog. Instead we wish to utilize the impressions and feelings we get from these descriptions of Gog and Magog as an artistic diving board to create our own take on this religious myth and translate that to the world of storytelling, clowning, and comedy.
Also, Gog and Magog make for some killer clown names.
What is PrismCo? What’s this wordless movement theater thing?
PrismCo seeks to engage audiences, using a variety of mediums, through wordless movement-theater focused on ensemble-based work. For the last three years, we have maintained a focus on collaborating with other artistic companies to create original devised pieces that push the limits of what we can do as a low budget theater company. With Cara Mia’s roots being grounded in ensemble based movement theatre work, our two companies make for an excellent collaborative partnership.
In terms of our aesthetic, we keep our work wordless because we would like to try and focus on the pure communication that is possible just through the performers bodies and voices. Without an understandable spoken language, we feel we offer our audiences the chance to experience storytelling in a completely different and more universal context.
We also make sure to focus each one of our shows on a particular material as a medium for exploring storytelling. In the past we have worked with paper, paint, shadows, elastics, and in our most recent collaboration with Cara Mia, sand. In this collaboration, you can definitely expect to see Gog and Magog spouting gibberish and utilizing food and cooking ware as the medium of their expression.