‘All the King’s Fools’ was written and performed by a company of actors with learning difficulties. They are from Bristol and are called The Misfits.
It is a performance about the lives of jesters with learning difficulties in the court of King Henry VIII.
500 years ago, these performers were called ‘natural fools’ and were highly valued as entertainers. People not only found them very funny, but they also believed that they were inspired by God.
The show told of how, when the King was ill and melancholic, his doctors thought that the comic skills of these ‘natural fools’ would make the king happy and this would make him better.
Doctors at this time believed that good health depended not only on diet, on exercise and on keeping away from infection, but also on ‘mirth’. This meant generally feeling happy and well, so, by making the king laugh, the ‘natural fools’ provided the therapy that the king needed to get well.
The performances were devised completely by the actors who performed them. They worked with director Peet Cooper of Foolscap Productions to bring to life the history uncovered in the research.
The music was written using original tunes and songs from the time of Henry VIII and Sarah Moody, our musical director helped the actors set their original rhymes and songs to music.
All the performances were interpreted by BSL signer and actor Sandra Barefoot.
The performances attracted national Media coverage:
In February The Guardian Newspaper published an article titled: All the King’s Fools: ‘Disability is deep in comedy’s DNA’ If you would like to read this please click here
In October The Today Programme on Radio 4 (www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/today/ ) featured All the King’s Fools. Click here to hear the interview.
If you would like to visit Hampton Court Palace and see where the performances took place, you can book tickets here
If you saw the performance we would love to hear from you. We have included the audience response forms on this website as Microsoft Word documents. If you saw the show and did not have time to fill one in, please feel free to do so now and email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Behind the Scenes
Watch the behind the scenes film below.
If you would like more information about the history of natural fools, and hear about the research which the show is based on. Click here
Foolscap Productions produce performances featuring jesters, fools and clowns, most often at historic castles and palaces and for people interested in history. If you would like to find out more, Click here
Peet Cooper has performed as jester and clown for over twenty years. He can be seen regularly at Hampton Court Palace, is English Heritage National Jester and former European Jester of the Year. He is the artistic director of Foolscap Productions. If you would like more information about him Click here
The Misfits are a professional company of actors with learning difficulties from Bristol who have been performing their own work for over twenty years If you would like more information about them Click here
Dr Suzannah Lipscomb is an historian, author and broadcaster. She is Senior Lecturer and Convenor for History at New College of the Humanities. She also holds a post as Lecturer in Early Modern History at the University of East Anglia and is a consultant to Historic Royal Palaces. Click here
Sarah Moody, our musical director, works as a musician/Music Director/composer with theatre companies such as Kneehigh at the National Theatre, London, Nottingham Playhouse and Travelling Light. She has also co founded a music project with children in Uganda and works as a freelance artist doing educational projects with all ages If you would like to find out more about her click here or here
Sandra Barefoot is an actor and British Sign Language interpreter for deaf people. She also works in many different arts projects, aiming to give expression to people who do not normally have access to the arts.If you would like to find out more about Sandra, click here
The Wellcome Trust supports projects that enable the public to explore biomedical science, its impact on society and culture, its historical roots and the ethical questions that it raises. If you would like to find out more about the Trust click here
Arts Council England is the national development agency for the arts in England, distributing public money from the Government and the National Lottery. If you would like find out more about them click here