Pants on Fire explores new fundraising initiatives

Reporter: Sandra Giorgetti

Dateline: 26th May, 2013

Being resourceful

With funding cuts already expected to give the arts an even more miniscule percentage of public spending, whose heart cannot have sunk at Culture Secretary Maria Miller's proposition that commercialism has to come ahead of creativity.

In what now looks like an ironically prescient move, theatre company Pants on Fire devised an initiative to sell advertising slots in their new production, an adaptation of children's classic, The Adventures of Pinocchio.

This isn't as strange as it sounds—turning classics on their head is nothing new to this award–winning company.

For this interpretation Pants on Fire has set the tale of the puppet who wants to be a boy in the world of 1950s sci–fi B movies, matching up what Jones describes as "the other worldly things that happen in Pinocchio" with the characteristics of the film genre, and giving it a soundscape inspired by the first synthesised sounds of the 50s through to today's dubstep in a barbershop mash-up.

Co–artistic director Jess Mabel Jones explained how the company came up with the idea of having adverts in this setting: "The Pants on Fire Pinocchio is an adaptation of the original Carlo Collodi story so it's very different from what everybody would know from the Disney version. Pinocchio gets hung, he's drowned, he's turned into a donkey.

"It’s dark and violent and grotesque and brilliant and we wanted to draw out those things that have been lost from the story over the years."

"The adverts were in the original script," says Jess Mabel Jones. "Because the play is so dark, Peter [Bramley], the writer, wanted to put something in that was a bit frivolous and a bit of a contrast to everything else that was going on—all the hanging and death!

"He wanted a light interlude and with the 1950s being a time of increasing commodity, people obsessed with products and owning things and improving their lives, we wanted to add that in and in the original script there are some [ads] that came out of the narrative but that sit as part of the narrative.

"…then when our funding didn’t come through from the normal routes we thought may be this could be an opportunity to have some sponsorship, and so we opened up the possibility of companies buying advertisement space in the show."

With not much time remaining, Pants on Fire has found potential supporters strangely resistant to this low-cost advertising option but Jess Mabel Jones remains open–minded. "This idea might not take off" she says "it's just us being resourceful."

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