Deaf West Theatre puts its own, unique spin on the classic story of a mischievous puppet who wishes to become a real, live boy. Using a mix of deaf and hearing actors, Stephen Rothman directs The Adventures of Pinocchio, a commedia dell arte adaptation of Carlo Collodi’s 1883 novel by Lee Hall that brims with clever political subtext and sly social commentary.The show opens February 19 at Deaf West Theatre in North Hollywood’s NoHo Arts District.
The show stars James Royce, Lindsay W. Evans, Matthew Henerson, Tommy, Lexi Marman, Colin O’Brien–Lux, Darrin Revitz, Vae and, as Pinocchio, Amber Zion.
Tony Award-winner Lee Hall (Billy Elliott) has created an adaptation of Carlo Collodi’s novel that is steeped in the Italian tradition of commedia dell’arte, a comic form that lends itself perfectly to Deaf West Theatre’s signature, award-winning combination of signed and voiced theater.
Characterized by improvised text based on plot outlines and stock characters, commedia uses sexually challenging language and physical comedy to poke fun at society. In that spirit, Hall encourages theater companies to “cut, expand, mess about and improvise to suit the needs and strengths of all involved.” Deaf West has taken the playwright at his word, integrating ASL (American Sign Language) and controversies relevant to Deaf culture into the production.
In keeping with Deaf West Theatre’s singular artistic vision, The Adventures of Pinocchio will join talking and signing on stage in one poetic dance, illuminating the text in new ways and creating a uniquely rich theatrical experience.
“Pinocchio’s story is hilarious and comical, full of old-fashioned slapstick and true theatrical magic,” says Rothman. “But we’ll also be sneaking some serious thematic material into the fun. Right around the time Pinocchio was written, something called the Milan Conference took place in Italy, which promoted the idea that sign language was not acceptable and that people who were deaf should learn to read lips. Similar forums wanted to prevent deaf people from marrying one another so that deafness would not be passed down to future generations. Using improvisation, we’re working some of these concepts into our story.”
The Adventures of Pinocchio previews 8 p.m. February 18 through 24, opens 8 p.m. Saturday, February 25 and performs 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday through March 27. No matinee performances February 19 or March 27. Tickets are $25, $15 children 12 and under and previews. Student rush tickets $15 with valid ID 30 minutes prior to curtain.
Call 818-762-2773 (voice) 866-954-2986 (video phone) or visit www.deafwest.org.
The Adventures of Pinocchio is rated “PG” for mild language and dark themes – recommended for ages 10 and up.
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