BLOG: Pinocchio - behind the scenes…1
We’ve started counting down the days till this year’s family Christmas show, The Adventures of Pinocchio, opens on Wednesday 8 December. Over the next couple of weeks and then into the run of the show, we’re going to be hearing from the people involved in making Pinocchio happen, both backstage and onstage, in rehearsal and in performance. First up, we hear from writer Toby Farrow, who’s been responsible taking Carlo Collodi’s stories from page to stage…
I’ve been adapting Pinocchio for the last eight months and it’s always a strange and exciting process seeing your words start to burst to life in the rehearsal room. I always aim to spend the first couple of weeks of the rehearsal frantically sorting out script problems as and when they come up. Once they are sorted out, I start to phase out of the rehearsal process. I think a writer in the room is useful to a point, but as the rehearsals move on I become more and more irrelevant to the process - unless some major problem rears its head of course!
The first couple of weeks are always very busy for me. I beetle away off-stage fixing the script as the plot holes emerge. This play has been no exception. We entirely re-structured the story in the first week of the rehearsal as we realised that one of the “big” set-piece scenes was too near the start of the story and was ruining the flow. I’ve also spent the last couple of weeks with composer Pete Judge trying to work out the type of songs we need for each scene and then writing lyrics to fit his tunes, which are absolutely fantastic - I totally loved them!
The process of adapting Pinocchio has been quite challenging one. The original story by Carlo Collodi was incredibly dark, schematic and unstructured. This, however, is a gift for a writer, because it gives you complete freedom to take the story where you want. We gave the play an Italian setting, which really helps in terms the story, mainly because Italians are gregarious which is useful when writing big characters - the settings are fun and the music is bouncy.
As we enter the third week of rehearsal, the script is now about 98% there. All the major decisions have been made and it’s now at a stage where the cast can add minor bits of impro and tweak some of the lines to suit their characters as they continue to develop. Inevitably, once the play goes into rehearsal, questions of staging emerge that affect the script – some as mundane as “Hang on, I’ve only got ten seconds to change into another character!”, some more fundamental. Most of these have now been resolved and I’m pretty happy about where the script is. The director and cast are doing a brilliant job of bringing it to life and, knowing it’s in good hands, I can start to relax a little and look forward to my Gin and Tonic on opening night!