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Gerben Roefs & Daniel Stolfi

The (Mis)adventures of Pinocchio and the Unreliable Shapeshifter, OR: From Senex to Senility and back again

What has happened to Pinocchio in his dotage? He used to be a wise old man… a Senex. But now…? He is alone, afraid, and anxious. His mind keeps going back to the days when he was a piece of wood. The days when life was filled with all sorts of adventures. Are these his real memories? Surely not! And what exactly is that thing flickering in the shadows in the corner of the room - that somehow might hold the answers… Is it just another fleeting memory?

In this performance you’ll be invited to enter the mind of Pinocchio in his old age. You’ll see fragments of what may or may not have happened to him. You may recollect parts of a very old story from your own memories, while actively building new ones! How will you react and interact now?

In line with the Conference’s central theme, The (Mis)adventures of Pinocchio will explore aspects of autobiographical memory. As we approach old age, it would seem that memory remains unreliable and elusive. Yet, we also rely increasingly on our memories to preserve a legacy of the idealised self so that the next generation has an opportunity to begin afresh. The improvisational, interactive, and interdisciplinary nature of the performance aims to represent, in dramatic terms, the cohering nature of our memory and the regenerative and transformative potential of this elusive yet vital phenomenon.

We have enlisted a number of students from across the Arts Therapies and ECArTE community to help with the production. The audience will be invited to contribute to and shape the dramatic action and narrative of the story as it unfolds, followed by a reflective panel discussion.

Wat is er met Pinocchio gebeurd op zijn oude dag? Hij was eens een oude wijze man… Een Senex. Maar nu…? Hij is angstig, nerveus en alleen. Zijn herinneringen gaan steeds terug naar toen hij een stuk hout was en allerlei avonturen meemaakte. Zijn dat dan zijn echte herinneringen? Nee toch! En wat is toch dat ding dat zo in de schaduwen flikkert, in de hoek van de kamer – iets dat op een of andere manier het antwoord heeft op zijn vragen… Is dat ook slechts een vluchtige herinnering?

Tijdens deze uitvoering stap je in het brein van de oude Pinocchio. Je zult flarden zien van wat hem wel of niet overkomen is. Wellicht herinner jij stukken van een erg oud verhaal, terwijl je actief bezig bent met het maken van nieuwe herinneringen! Hoe reageer jij daarop en kom jij dan tot interactie?

In lijn met het centrale thema van deze conferentie zal ‘De (onfortuinlijke) avonturen van Pinocchio’ aspecten belichten van het autobiografisch geheugen. Wanneer we ouder worden, lijkt het erop dat herinneringen onbetrouwbaar en ongrijpbaar blijven. Tegelijkertijd vertrouwen we meer en meer op die herinneringen om de erfenis overeind te houden van ons geïdealiseerde zelf. Zo krijgt de volgende generatie een kans om opnieuw te beginnen. De improvisationele, interactieve en interdisciplinaire aard van deze voorstelling heeft als doel om, op dramatische wijze, de samenhangende facetten van ons geheugen en het regeneratieve en transformatieve potentieel ervan weer te geven, van dit zowel ongrijpbare als cruciale fenomeen.

Studenten binnen de Vaktherapie en ECArTE gemeenschap zijn benaderd om mee te werken aan deze voorstelling. Het publiek wordt uitgenodigd om bij te dragen aan de dramatische acties en om vorm te geven aan de verhaallijn, terwijl deze ontstaat, waarna een panel discussie gehouden wordt voor reflectie.

Gerben Roefs (1980) received his Bachelor in Music Therapy in 2008 from the ArtEZ University of the Arts. Immediately after his graduation, he started working as a music therapist in the forensic psychiatry (FPC de Kijvelanden, Poortugaal). He received his master’s degree, Master of Music Therapy, in 2015 and is a senior registered music therapist. Gerben is an experienced clinical music therapist in forensic psychiatry (9 years) and is currently working as a music therapist in Elderly Care (Aafje, Rotterdam). He combines his music therapy work with his job (since 2015) at the University of Applied Sciences (Utrecht) as a teacher of Music Therapy Methods. Gerben is a regular presenter both on a national and international level. Most recently he presented at the Nordic Music Therapy Congress in august 2018 and was seen in 2019 at the ECArTE Conference in a performance and at a workshop.

Recent Publications

Daniel Stolfi, PhD, is a UK-based dramatherapist, medical anthropologist, and the artistic director of The Awesome Puppet Company. He is a Core Tutor and the Academic Support Lead on the MA programme in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy at Terapia in London as well as the organization’s Institutional Link Tutor with Middlesex University. He has been a visiting lecturer at The Royal Central School of Speech & Drama and Anglia Ruskin University in the UK and has also presented his work extensively in the US, including NYU Steinhardt and the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). He has a specialist interest in the therapeutic uses of puppetry, and how our understanding and experience of suffering and healing are informed by and reproduce social and cultural value. He is active in education, training, research, and publishing in these fields.

Stolfi, D. (in preparation): ‘… (He) didn’t hear it as a mistake…’: Exploring disrupted narratives and the realignment of relational domains in arts therapy settings, in: Hougham, R and Jones, B. (in preparation): Dramatherapy: The Nature of Interruption, Abingdon: Routledge.

Stolfi, D. (in preparation): ‘What are these irruptions of the spirit?’ - Exploring (the elusive) therapeutic properties of puppetry and puppet-craft within dramatherapy clinical practice with children and adolescents, in: Hills de Zarate, M and Herrmann, U. (eds.) (in preparation): The Mental Health of Children and Young People: Research and contemporary Practice in the Arts Therapies, Abingdon: Routledge.

Stolfi, D. (in press): ‘If you see the queen tell her to give our lands back!’ Contextualizing Native American Homelessness and Social Suffering - book chapter in: Hobart, A. and Napier, D. (eds.) (in press): Social Wellbeing: New Pathologies and Emerging Challenges. Canyon Pyon: Sean Kingston Publishing.

Heeling the Wound - A performance and panel discussion of Sophocles’ play Philoctetes by The Awesome Puppet Company. European Consortium for Arts Therapies Education (ECArTE), biannual conference, Alcalá, Spain, September 2019.

Workshop design and facilitation: …how marvelous is thy face… A mask-making workshop for educators, arts therapists and health practitioners working with male client populations. ‘Building Bridges’ in Applied Arts and Health, Education and Community – University of Wolverhampton, Ironbridge, UK, August 2019.

Elsa Lubbers (1997) received her bachelor in Drama Therapy in 2021 at Utrecht University of Applied Sciences. During her studies she worked with young adults and in adult psychiatry focussing on treatment of trauma, attachment issues and victims of sexual abuse. In her work, she uses embodiment and improvisation in order to examine the way in which we relate to and make sense of ourselves, each other and the unpredictable world around us. In her graduating thesis, she studied the impact of Developmental Transformations in the treatment of clients with autonomy issues. In 2019, she contributed to the ECArTE conference “Imagining windmills” with the performance ‘Healing the wound’ together with Daniel Stolfi and Gerben Roefs. She is currently working on an English translation of the ‘competences of the professional expressive therapist (LOOVBT, 2016)’ together with dramatherapy students from NYU and Lesley University.


2015 – AMTA (American Music Therapy Association) Conference – “Music Therapy: A Continuum of Growth” – Kansas City, MO, USA – Lecture
2016 – IAFP (International Association for Forensic Psychotherapy) Conference – “Families: how to survive them – or not…” – Ghent, Belgium – Lecture
2017 – IALMH (International Academy for Law and Mental Health) XXXVth Conference – Prague, Czech Republic – Lecture
2018 – NMTC (Nordic Music Therapy Congress) – “come together: body & soul – heart & brain” – Stockholm, Sweden – Workshop
2019 – ECArTE (European Consortium For Arts Therapies Education) – “Imagining Windmills” – Alcála de Henares, Spain – Workshop and Performance

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