Pinocchio, Royal National Theatre, UK

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J&C Joel was asked by the National Theatre to help bring to life award-winning designer Bob Crowley’s design for the entrance to Stromboli’s circus tent in a reimagining of the classic tale Pinocchio.

The look of the set was to be ‘larger than life’ to work with the incredible oversized puppets created by the National’s Scenic Shop. This required every aspect of the drapes to be scaled, including custom 50mm diameter rope and 750mm tassels. In addition to the scale of the drapes, J&C Joel also had to ensure that all elements appeared ‘aged’ to fit in with the ‘run-down’ aesthetic of the circus.

To begin the project, J&C Joel produced a swagged pelmet measuring 8.93m wide with a drop of 0.95m, this was shaped to fit the curved bar from which it was hung. They also produced two legs each measuring 2.00m wide with a drop of 5.00m, sewn with an astounding 200% fullness. This was followed by the production of two infill pieces each measuring 1.22m wide with a drop of 2.20m, again with 200% fullness. All drapes were produced from J&C Joel’s scarlet Countess (VEL034).

J&C Joel then produced a pair of seamless digitally printed Filled Cloth drapes which were also designed to look ‘aged’ to fit in with the ‘run-down’ aesthetic of the circus.

Finally, J&C Joel produced a 15.50m wide by an 8.50m drop flat drape manufactured from a special deep black Velour which was used as the “Illusionist’s drape”. The material was previously used in a high-profile Hollywood film due to its deep black colour which makes it perfect for reveal drapes.

J&C Joel’s installation team spent two days on-site at the National Theatre installing and dressing the drapes to ensure they matched the design model and were robust enough to withstand a four-month run of the show.

The drapes were hung from a frame fabricated by the National Theatre which tracked in and out during the show, meaning the drapes needed to maintain their “dressed” appearance whilst being secure enough to look the same night after night. This was made possible by the hard work and dedication from J&C Joel’s Creative Team.

The end result was a faithful recreation of the model and design renders provided at the outset of the project. The drapes were in keeping with the extremely high production values of the show which included some incredibly complex and high-quality scenic elements.