TThe animating force behind The Adventures of Pinocchio is the wooden puppet’s desire to become a real boy. Every scratch and digression is a lesson on the way to that ultimate goal. But what exactly is a real child? Carlo Collodi would have moral answers to those questions, having established a minefield of temptations to resist on the road to maturity. But for Rosana cade Y Ivor MacAskill, the story has a different set of resonances.
In 2018, MacAskill declared himself trans (“I feel so much more like myself”), which means he finds Pinocchio’s journey to self-realization especially moving. Cade, his partner on and off stage, has his own questions about where they fit in the story. Is it about the puppet in transition or also about those who support him along the way?
These are the impulses behind The Making of Pinocchio, a fun, smart and thoughtful two-handed game, rich in funny imagery and straight-into-the-camera sides, about identity, definition and acceptance. Conceived for live performance and adapted for this one-take ‘digital edition’, it drifts in and out of Collodi’s story, uncovering layers of childhood fantasy, autobiography, and adult desire (warning: extreme sex scenes with puppets).
The satire is soft, but the politics is clear. Anyone in transition in this world has to convince “at least two people” that they are a real child, and only after telling their story over and over again. The point is well made, but a scene of self-criticism about puppet rights is no less funny.
Director of Photography Kirstin McMahon has a lot of fun playing with perspective. As a tree, MacAskill appears large in the foreground, his silhouette dwarfing Cade as they work in the forest, but like a puppet, he becomes a miniature, like a helpless child. Even after releasing Pinocchio from MacAskill from his tree, Cade’s lumberjack remains a controlling force, frequently dominating the image, his face close to the camera.
The ebb and flow of Yas Clarke’s violin loops creates a fairytale world at once calm and strange, while the all-consuming red of Tim Spooner’s set suggests diverse picture book landscapes, theatrical velvet and dungeon. YE. They give the story a happy ending, but they don’t come to a clear resolution; these are, after all, lives in progress.
By the way, The Making of Pinocchio is the highlight of the opening weekend of Take me somewhere, The Glasgow International Contemporary Performance Festival. Saturday Night’s Jump Cut – Episode # 3, an Animals of Distinction “art movie” combined drag, lip sync, and gothic melodrama in a way that would have been fun if it hadn’t had such a poor sense of rhythm. Much better is Joana Tischkau’s Colonastics (until May 25), a series of onion-style videos promoting “colonial gymnastics” to help white people who are “arrhythmic, monotonous and rigid.” His sharpest satirical sting is in the first of the three installments, which makes the most effective connection between the physical and oppression.
Also on a colonial theme, Ayò Akínwándé Kòrónà Stomp’s virtual exhibition (until May 30) presents Brexit through the lens of Pathé News in a series of short pieces that suggest connections between the Interior Ministry bureaucracy, the Zealous patriotism and independence. Also worth listening to is Sarah Hopfinger’s Pain & I (until May 30), a poetic audio piece that reflects on the artist’s chronic pain not as an enemy, unsurprisingly, but as an old friend.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism