Pictured: Rommel Sulit. Photo by Kirk Tuck.
To the delight of families and school children across Austin a fresh new interpretation of Pinocchio is playing at ZACH Theatre through May 24th. From script to stage, this brilliant show was developed under the guidance of Director, Nat Miller, who shares his thoughts with us below.
Five years ago, I went to my very first Children’s Theatre Festival in Cleveland, OH, and it completely changed the way I think about theatre for young audiences. The work coming out of Denmark, England, Australia, Iceland, and Scotland, is not just great theatre for kids, it’s great theatre in general. It’s funny, poignant, beautiful, and moving. I was so inspired, as a theatre artist, to do work with this kind of emotional depth, risk taking, and creativity. That’s our goal with the ZACH Family Series, and I feel that Pinocchio is a wonderful example of what we’re capable of.
Last year, as I was researching interesting fairy tales, I came upon Pinocchio and was fascinated with why this old man would want to make a boy out of wood. I thought, “Why doesn’t he have a son of his own? Who is Geppetto?” This question became really intriguing to me and after brainstorming with Andrew Windler, our playwright, we decided that Geppetto does not have a son because he is a shut in and has never ventured out into the world. He makes puppets, clocks, and toys, and lives in the world of his imagination.
I was inspired by the image of Pinocchio turning into a real boy and leading Geppetto out into the world. This was an opportunity to position the child as the one who is wise and helps bring about change for the adult.
From there, we decided that the adventure and action of the story would all take place in Geppetto’s workshop. The whole story takes place inside of his mind- going on imaginary adventures is how Geppetto deals with his fears. Our interpretation of the story is new.
It has been such an honor to work on this play and hear feedback from teachers, parents, and children. I love to hear about the emotional impact our work has on them.
We still have a lot of catching up to with international work, but it is incredibly rewarding to create work that stretches our perception of theatre for young audiences.