John C. Kirk (johnckirk) wrote,
John C. Kirk


Apropos of nothing much, here's a story from my past that I don't think many of you have heard before. This goes back to when I was quite young (maybe 8 years old), and I'd gone off to watch a pantomime of "Pinocchio" at Christmas.

So, the story is clicking along, and Pinocchio is on his way off to school. What happens next is that he gets led astray by a bunch of other kids, and winds up turning into a donkey. However, the play was paused slightly at this point so that the head pirate (?) could recruit some children from the audience to help with this.

Digressing slightly, I'm not really a fan of pantos nowadays, particularly the celebrity versions. And breaking the fourth wall is something that's quite tricky to do well. But I didn't mind back in those days, so I stuck my arm in the air, along with most of the other kids. I wound up being one of the chosen few, picked out with the flattering description "the one whose eyes are too close together". (Just to clarify, this was said in character by the bad guy, rather than being a personal attack that caused me untold mental trauma.)

Anyway, there were about ten of us who were picked out, and we were led backstage, where we climbed into a trolley-car thing. The idea was that we would be winched across the stage, and as we rolled past Pinocchio we'd all call out things like "Hey, come and play with us! School is boring - come and have fun instead!" So, after the appropriate cue-line from the actors on stage, we got our moment in the spotlight, and we all started shouting.

This was where I had one of my cunning plans. People who are familiar with Kirkian logic may want to brace yourselves at this point.

As I say, this was a play, and I was now acting in it, so in that sense I knew as well as anyone that it wasn't real. On the other hand, going to the theatre is all about suspension of disbelief, and losing yourself in the story (which is why mobile phones are so disruptive), and I had quite an active imagination in those days. So, I sort of believed that this story was really happening, and I'd suddenly shifted from being a passive spectator to an active participant. More importantly, I was privy to extra information about the future that most of the characters didn't possess (particularly Pinocchio). So, decision time. Do I:

a) Do what I'm told, help the bad guys, and lure the hero to his doom?


b) Fight the future! Change the rules! As John Connor put it (in the first Terminator film): "The future isn't set. The only fate is what we make for ourselves."

<fx: John whistles innocently>

So, while the other kids were sticking to the plan, I suddenly started waving my arms side to side and shouting "No, stay away! Go to school! Don't come with us, save yourself!" However, my voice was drowned out by the others, so this didn't make any difference. Once we'd reached the other side of the stage we all returned to the audience, and the story continued as it was supposed to.

Looking back on this now, I have mixed feelings. It is slightly embarrassing to reflect on this, and I'm glad that I didn't actually wind up spoiling everyone else's evening out. On the other hand, my motives were pure, and I think that I still have a bit of a "White Knight" complex nowadays.

Regarding the whole fiction/fact issue, I suppose that at one level I was a bit like the crazed celebrity stalkers who can't distinguish between actors and the characters they portray. Then again, there was a Planetary story about the fictionauts (people who were able to enter stories), so maybe I was just ahead of my time... I haven't been quite that overt since then, but I do remember watching "Sliding Doors" and thinking that I'd like to be able to alter a certain scene near the end of the film. I'm trying to avoid spoilers, but if you've seen the film then you can probably guess which bit I mean - it's a situation where a quick "save and fade" would do the job nicely.

Meanwhile, elyon has observed that there are similarities between the Pinocchio story and a couple of my favourite films ("Mannequin" and "Short Circuit 2"). I did buy the original story a while back (or rather an English translation), but I haven't got round to reading it yet.

Anyway, hopefully that's provided you all with a bit of entertainment :)
Tags: anecdote, comics, films, theatre

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