For those of you who have been following Hothouse Theatre's classic season, it will come as no surprise that they chose to do Pinocchio in a completely different way to any other adaptation of Pinocchio.

If you were expecting something akin to the Walt Disney adaptation, or the various modern 'made for little children' versions that adorn the books shelves of the world, you were in for a surprise!

Their starting point, as it was with their excellent production of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, was the actual original prose. In this case the original translation by Mary Alice Murray of the story by Carlo Collodi as first published in English in 1892.

Then apart from cutting and awful lot of it ... that was as far as the adapting went.

Well, sort of. They don't just read it out. They do something far more creative. This is Hothouse Theatre you are talking about.

They use a split narrative technique, where the lines are split up between different actors, sometimes with several actors sharing a single sentence.

Then just for good measure and to increase the dramatic content, the actors deliver lines in character ... even lines that describe the actions of the character.

It sound complicated. But the measure of the effort and skill that goes into it is that it comes across as a perfectly natural way to present classic prose on stage.

With Pinocchio, they chose to do it as a 'live radio performance' with sound effect generated by the actors from the stage which included the use of coconut shells, rubber gloves, a violin bow, a tin can or two, a piece of string tied to a wooden spoon, an umbrella and an olive fork and a balloon.

Not only did it work, it was excellent!

I thought I knew the story of the naughty wooden puppet, but it turns out I knew nothing.

I can't wait for their next piece of classic prose brought to stage.

Rumour has it that it will be a series of classic Christmas Ghost Stories. I feel the shivers running down my spine already.


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On the Road Again
with Pinocchio

The Show Must Go On
The process of taking a classic piece of prose, adapting it for the stage, recruiting a bunch of actors fool enough to be in it, finding suitable performance spaces, organising the rehearsals, rehearsing, whilst at the same time publicising it enough to make sure that when the time comes you are performing to more than the half a dozen cockroaches and assorted spiders that come out in the evening in your average community hall, is a long and totally absorbing one.

Relationships have been known to break up under the strain. Work deadlines come and go without registering at all on the 'do it and do it now!' meter. Friends assume that you have died or emigrated to outer Mongolia, inner Siberia or the Moon.

Hours of sleep are lost as the project goes through the inevitable confidence sapping phases.

What seemed like a good idea on the page, becomes less so by degrees when the actors ask that simple and quite reasonable question that requires a straight answer but will mean another sleepless night coming up with a coherent angle on ... 'why?'

Then as you go through the process of unpacking the script, it makes less and less sense.

Does Pinocchio kill the damn cricket or not?

How come everyone he meets knows Pinocchio's name?

Does the underlying message have any place in the C21st outside the more reactionary sections of the Tory Party?

And you just can't find a place to perform the damn thing!

You could always just pull the show. It would be a lot easier!

But you don't get into mirco theatre to make life easier. Quite the opposite. It is to create hassle. To give your life a little more meaning through the development of a bit personal trauma. To give you sleepless nights and make sure that all your real work piles up in the 'to do ... but not yet' tray.

Then one of the actors drops out for 'personal reasons'.


There is only one way to save the show. You have to be in it!

Why not? You are only the scriptwriter, producer, director, publicity, box office, roadie and general dogs body. And it is only Voice 2 after all. A mere 15 different characters and voices to go with them.

Then a stroke of genius. We'll do it radio style. That will save on the directing role, although it will increase the roadie role a bit.

But ... if we are going to do it radio style, we will have to do the sound effects from the stage using coconut shells etc. A whole new role in the show ... sound design!

Now all there is left to do is: chuck as much publicity out as possible, rehearse all the hours you can get the cast together, remind your other half that it is only for a couple months and you'll see her again after the show, cross everything in the hope that there is just enough time for it all to come together for the first night and hope that someone actually turns up to watch it.

In other words, just like every other show you've ever been involved in.


Setting up for the dress rehearsal

An audio version of Pinocchio will appear in the Oh My Nottz Christmas edition.

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Oh My Nottz is a HotHouse Theatre production. Co. No. 6505843 Charity No. 1154523. Tel 07963020259 email website
The views expressed in Oh My Nottz are not necessarily those held by HotHouse Theatre.