The Making Of Pinocchio, Ivor MacAskill writes about celebrating trans, queer joy and love.

The Making Of Pinocchio is a transgender play at The Barbican Arts Centre.
Cade & MacAskill, The Making of Pinocchio. (Photo by Tiu Makkonen, image supplied).

Ivor MacAskill and Rosana Cade created The Making Of Pinocchio alongside and in response to Ivor’s gender transition. Ahead of the show’s run at Battersea Arts Centre, 1 – 10 November 2023, they write about what lies at the heart of The Making Of Pinocchio

– Ivor MacAskill with Rossana Cade –

My partner, Rosana Cade, and I created The Making of Pinocchio, a live film-theatre hybrid that retells the story of the little wooden puppet who wants to be a ‘real boy’ as a way of responding to our experiences as a couple in response to my gender transition. Using cameras and theatre tricks, it blends our autobiography with layered fictions and questions what it takes to ‘tell your truth’. In collaboration with our creative team, we’ve made a touching, humorous piece with rich visuals and sound that joyfully embraces the importance of fantasy and imagination in queer worldmaking and the idea of transness as a state of possibility that can open up society.

The live show premiered in 2022 in Hamburg, and since then, it’s been seen by hundreds of people in major international performance festivals, from Birmingham to Berlin, from Bern to Brisbane (with a stop off in Montreal for good measure), receiving great reviews from critics and audiences alike. Now, we’re really proud and excited to be bringing it back to the beautiful Grand Hall at Battersea Arts Centre for a 2-week run in November. It’s also bittersweet to be returning to the UK, where the government and media are being so blatantly transphobic and weaponising our lives. But that’s why we’re determined to share our stories and connect with our audiences back home – to create a space of collective joy and resistance.

The Making Of Pinocchio by Cade and MacAskill.
Cade & MacAskill by Christa Holka 21 Feb 22 (Image supplied).

What we love about presenting the work is how it resonates with and touches a range of people on different levels. We hear a lot of knowing chuckles and sighs when we reference aspects of the medical transition process from other trans audience members, and we’re so happy to have created this rare space of understanding and recognition. In Brisbane, we met quite a few older couples who had experienced this process of one partner transitioning and felt that we were telling their story. 

As well as being a performance where queer and trans people can see themselves, we also wanted to welcome those who’ve maybe felt like they don’t know a lot about trans people and have been scared to ask. In this work, we are purposefully friendly and straightforward and use humour and familiarity to take everyone on the journey with us. We find that people come away with a deeper understanding of trans and non-binary experiences and a feeling of connection to the struggle for trans rights.

The Making Of Pinocchio is a transgender and queer play at Battersea Arts Centre Theatre.
Cade & MacAskill, The Making of Pinocchio. (Photo by Tiu Makkonen, image supplied).

We’re privileged to be able to be vulnerable on stage and welcome the audience behind the scenes of our lives, our love, and our creative process. When we’ve performed internationally, the venue technicians often watch our dress rehearsal, and we’ve had many testimonies from cis, straight, white male techies saying how much the piece has moved them, not only giving them insight into trans lives but making them think about how their own desire and ability to evolve may have been stifled over time. The performance gives everyone space to think about the importance of love and imagination in changing ourselves and changing the world.

So, because we know how important the work has been to our trans, non-binary and queer siblings and their allies internationally, and even though we know there are people in this country rolling back our human rights or questioning our existence, we will proudly and joyfully be presenting our show at Battersea Arts Centre. We’re aiming to create an accessible and supportive experience at BAC; all performances are relaxed with creative captioning, some are pay what you can, and some shows have a trained wellbeing practitioner on hand to support audiences who might need to chat to someone. It might feel challenging to put ourselves out there, but at its heart, the show celebrates trans, queer joy and love and the glorious potential of transformation. So that’s what we’ll deliver, wrapped up in a great night of theatre.

Tickets for The Making Of Pinocchio:

The Making of Pinocchio runs from 1 to 10 November 2023 at Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill, London SW11 5TN, United Kingdom.



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