nytheatre.com q&a preview by Carlo Adinolfi
May 20, 2013
What is your job on this show?
Co-Creator, Performer, Designer.
What is your show about?
Geppetto meshes two of our favorite stories, Pinocchio and The Old Man and The Sea, to tell a heart-wrenching and hilarious tale of prosthetics and aging, contemplating resilience in the face of change and loss.
Where were you born? Where were you raised? Where did you go to school?
I was born in Udine, Italy in 1960 and was raised in London, England from 1961 to 1978. I attended Warwick University, 1979-1981 and majored in Pure Mathematics. While at University, I started taking dance classes off campus. I came to NYC to study Modern Dance. In NYC, I performed with many different choreographers including Sara Pearson, Patrik Widrig and Dancers. At that time, I made a living as a cabinetmaker, then as a Stage Master Carpenter and then as a Technical Director. As TD at Sarah Lawrence College, I took theatre classes and studied puppetry with Dan Hurlin. I’ve been choreographing, designing and performing all that time (30+ years).
Complete this sentence: My show is the only one opening in NYC this spring that...?
...has a puppet with prosthetics.
Why did you want to write/direct/produce/act in/work on this show?
I’m the Co-Creator (with Renee Philippi), Designer, and Performer. The show sprung out of a meeting with a puppet company in Gorizia, Italy (near where I was born). They were planning a festival called Puppet and Design. (They had previously organized Puppet and Becket, which looked to have been really fantastic from the materials they showed us.) Over the next few months, I scribbled ideas down, none of which really fired me up, until I heard Terry Gross interview Hugh Herr on Fresh Air. Hugh is a rock climber, MIT engineer, and a double amputee. He was talking about his different prosthetics (he has 20+), and then he said 'I feel fortunate that I can always look forward to having better and better feet'. I found his statement both compelling and moving. I discussed the idea with Renee Philippi. (We are together the Artistic Directors of Concrete Temple Theatre.) We decided to apply to the 2011-2012 St Ann's Puppet Lab and were accepted. The creative process led us to Hemingway's 'Old Man and the Sea' and as the title of the show suggests 'Pinocchio'. The main character is an aging puppeteer (I'm the performer) who has recently lost his wife and co-puppeteer. In the process of trying to rehearse the show without her, the puppeteer breaks one the main puppet’s legs. Geppetto, the puppeteer, then creates prosthetics from objects in his tool shop for the puppet. That is as much as I'll tell you because I really hope you'd come and see the show, and I don't want to spoil the ending.
Which mythical character would like your show the best: Cyclops, Cupid, Paul Bunyan or the Easter Bunny?
How important is diversity to you in the theater you see/make?
Concrete Temple Theatre’s mission is to make connections and to connect people to the world, giving opportunities for diverse audiences to question and examine their place in the world. Promoting cultural diversity has always been one of the main goals of Concrete Temple Theatre. We believe that only through diversification within our audiences and within our work (employing actors that represent the broad spectrum of NYC inhabitants) can we as artists be able to speak of and to the world around us. Concrete Temple Theatre serves audiences with an eclectic mix of artists: Koreans, African Americans, Britons, Germans, Japanese, Latin Americans, Mid-Westerners, Italians, etc. In this spirit, the company has toured in India, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Bulgaria. Beyond cultural diversity, we believe in creating theatre that appeals to all ages. Geppetto is about overcoming grief and loss through creativity; it is an adult theme, yet children are completely entertained by the puppets and the main character’s inventiveness.