About Tony Kishawi

Company Creative Director

About Tony KishawiSince graduating at the VCA in 1980 Tony has been pursuing a love of performance theatre through Commedia dell ‘Arte incorporating extensive training in mime, clowning, movement and street theatre. Tony has worked in the theatre industry as an actor, director, creator, producer and successful Queensland Arts Council contributor. He has also taught at NIDA and undertaken many community based theatre projects and events.

One of Tony’s fondest memories from his earlier days of education, training and travel was when he studied at the International School of Comic Acting in Italy with Antonio Fava, one of the masters of commedia. “It definitely felt like coming home to the source of all my experiments with mask work.” Tony says, noting Fava as being one of his role models. You can take advantage of the diversity of Tony’s experience when you work with Lightwire Theatrical Productions.

While Tony has an extensive performing career spanning 35 years he discovered a life time passion in developing other performers. Conducting workshops Tony has created a number of successful workshop and classroom plans which bring out the best in those participating. His experience and knowledge in the field of Commedia dell ‘Arte had Tony invited to lead a master class at the Queensland Drama Teachers Conference in 2009.

Released in May 2010, Tony’s first book Teaching Commedia dell’Arte is a teaching manual that enables teachers to successfully convey the magic and history of Commedia dell ‘Arte in a method understood only by a performer.

Commenting on how he feels about his role as teacher, leader and friend to so many students, Tony says ‘the most rewarding thing is that a number of the performers I worked with have had sustained careers in the industry… some of them are even teaching workshops and classes’.

Lightwire Theatrical Productions offers you the opportunity to work one-on-one with Tony or one of his handpicked team. What a great opportunity for you to apply his knowledge and expertise to your next show, event, school year, or community festival. This opportunity is available to anyone who requires creative inspiration or practical advice.

Reviews and References


From David Megarrity, Associate Lecturer, Performance studies, Creative Industries, QUT Nov. 2005

I write in reference to Tony Kishawi, with whom I worked in my capacity as Unit co-ordinator of KTB308 Performance 2 in QUT’s Performance Studies, Creative industries 2003-04.

The task of the unit is a challenge: to facilitate the students devising a new performance work, in a maximum of 13 x 3 hour sessions.

I worked with Tony two years running on the unit and his work as a tutor was of a high standard. He was consistently concerned with ensuring the students were equipped with the skills they needed, while balancing these demands with his brief to facilitate their vision. Not an easy task. He displayed a high level of engagement with the material and I noted his keenness to continually reflect upon and improve is own praxis, which I understand to have quite a breadth and depth, based on professional experience as a performer., teacher and creator of new works in a range of contexts.

I decided to create a documentary project based in the student experience of this particular unit and called upon Tony’s audiovisual skills to edit the piece. Again, I found my working relationship with him to be fruitful. I know I could depend on him for a good result within the set parameters of the project, and I know this to be a characteristic of Tony’s work.

I also mention Tony’s dedication to the showcasing and development of local artists, especially via his initiation and continued involvement inThe Angry Mime Project in which I have performed.

In short, I recommend him for a role which requires knowledge of craft, and care for the learning experience of his students.


From Liz Skitch, deBASE Productions, Nov. 05

I write with regards to the assistance that I have had from Tony Kishawi over the years as a mentor. I am a theatre maker and performer specialising in clown. In 1998 I founded deBASE productions with Bridget Boyle and Robert Kronk and we work to create new theatre for a new audience.

Tony Kishawi has provided me with many invaluable opportunities to develop my skills as an artist since I first worked with himm in 2000. The Angry Mime Project was a very valuable performance experience for me when I waas first experimenting with clown. It provided a safe environment in which to try out new ideas and to push the relationship between audience and performer to its fullest.

I have also had the opportunity to train with Tony in Commedia, Mime and Clown. His teachings have inspired me and increased not only my understanding of the forms but my love for them. I have studied with some of the greatest teachers and companies in the world such as Philippe Gaulier and Theatre de Complicite and I believe that Tony Kishawi is world class.

I think that Brisbane is very lucky to have Tony Kishawi here as a practitioner. Through sharing his knowledge, skill and vision with so many young people, emerging and established artists, he has created a cultural renaissance in Brisbane and indeed, Queensland.


From Jaina Kalifa, deRange Productions, Nov. 05

I have known Tony Kishawi for over 5 years. During this period I have developed a strong respect for his exceptional work as a teacher, director and performer and have no hesitation in recommend him for any employment utilising these skills.

Following my graduation from the Jacques Lecoq International Theatre School in Paris 1999, I returned to Brisbane, Australia and started working as a performer. I met Tony through the Angry Mime Project and strained in the mime and Commedia dell’Arte workshops he was facilitating. While I had just finished studying at the Jacques Lecoq school – one of the world’s most respected institutions for training in mime and Commedia – I learnt a lot from Tony’s workshops and the quality of his teaching compared to that which I received at the Jacques Lecoq school.

I later employed Tony as a director on two performance projects: a commission for the Scarecrow Festival in Maleny and an RADF funded project to develop a roving street act. In both these projects Tony’s skill as a director contributed directly to their success. The performance for the Scarecrow Festival was well received and went on to the Woodford Folk Festival. While the roving street act has gone on to perform at a range of festivals, corporate and community events, generating regular and ongoing income for DeRange Productions’ performers.

Tony’s generosity in supporting the development of emerging artists and lifetime of performing arts experience has established him as a respected mentor and collaborator in the Brisbane performing arts scene.


From Clint Bolster, Actor, Performer and a director of TopChick Management & Birdwing Lane Theatre, Nov. 05

The Angry Mime Summer School Project was extremely valuable to me. It showed me what I wanted to do on the stage and revealed my strengths (and weaknesses). The environment was safe, nurturing with excellent feed back from Tony.

Tony is a fantastic mentor, a constant source of support, encouragement, guidance and inspiration. My career was kickstarted by Tony’s Angry Mime Summer School.


From Jess Huth, QUT Performance I student, 2003

I have only had one experience of working with Tony Kishawi being nin a performance he directed over three years ago. I not only thoroughly enjoyed the experience but I also learnt so much beyond the Commedia dell’Arte craft he taught us.

Tony’s genuine approach with others, gentle and humble attitude makes him easy to respect. Tony’s personable character enables him to respond to appropriately to others in a variety of circumstances andn with sensitivity. He always looks out for the interests of others ahead of his own. Tony has skills, the experience and the attitude to meet the demands of any further ambition he undertakes.

He has made a permanent mark on my life because of who he is.


From Ben Cornfoot, Actor, Performer and director of Birdwing Lane Theatre, with partner in crime, Clint Bolster, Nov. 05

The Angry Mime Summer School with Tony Kishawi was my introduction to clown and commedia. I found the whole three weeks the best theatre intensive I hve done – and I have done a couple of others. Integral to that experience was Tony’s uniquely warm and supportive approach. His energy and outlook permeated the course and made all of us feel comfortable extending our comfort zones, discovering and expressing in new ways.

There was a uniquely playful, enthusiastic, light-hearted, non-judgemental atmosphere, that I believe is particularly essential for people who have not done clown, commedia or much physical theatre. It made me want to come back the next year and do it again – which I did.

I have since found regular work as a clown, commedia artist and actor and have co-formed a theatre company based around those theatre styles. Even as a playwright I found he Angry Mime valuable – by introducing my to ‘scriptless’ theatre I was able to imaging new possibilites when writing.

Tony’s approach to theatre is unique and valuable and it is largely due to his ongoing support and the Angry Mime Project that I have found my way in theatre.


From Bill Hauritz AM, Woodford Folk Festival, May 2005

Tony Kishawi has had a very long and successful association with the Woodford Folk Festival, starting over 16 years ago when we were known as the Maleny Folk Festival. Woodford Folk Festival now attracts 150,000 people in over in six days

We employed Tony initially and for many years, as a mime artist for which he is very skilled and widely known. Over the past six years though Tony has been involved at a much deeper level and has been responsible for the introduction of some of our key events at Woodford, namely “Enigma” (mass mask event” and the ‘Carnival of Misrule’, which have been so successful.

Tony’s talents go beyond that of a mime artist – he is an artist of vision, creative to the core and unrestricted by the usual boundaries. He has come up with concepts, created projects and produced events to aplomb. To Tony’s credit he is always within budget.

I gladly recommend Tony and urge you to consider his involvement positively. He is a winner!


From Gabrielle Griffin and Emma Newman “The Frocks” caberet/comedy duet, Nov. 05

We wrie in recognition of Tony Kishawi’s skills and contributions to the evolution of our artworks through the availabily of the Angry Mime Performance Nights. As independent performing artists from a regional area (The Northern Rivers of NSW), exposure to artistic peers, new audiences and alternative venues is essential for creative growth and professional development.

Our duet ‘The Frocks’ has travelled to Brisbane to the ‘Angry Mime’ on several occasions over the past three years since our inception and we gained much from our experiences. It is crucial to try new works before a receptive, willing audience; and this has been created at the ‘Angry Mime’, with professional technical support and directorial feedback (if requested) from Tony.

It is such an affirmation to know we have a supportive venue to explore our evolving craft and we thank Tony for his vision and the dedication that has provided this over these years.


From Michelle – Margi Brown Ash ‘4 Change’ students

Tony was an absolutely fantastic teacher and I learned so much from him! He was very inspiration and taught me so many things to be aware of on stage.


From Howard Cassidy, Lecturer-in-charge of Drama CQU – Nov. 2005

Over the past five years Tony Kishawi has contributed to the Bachelor of Performing Arts program as a guest lecturer on several occasions and as Artist-in-Residence for two extended periods. Tony has been a successful and highly respected Arts Industry Mentor for our students. We have been pleased to develop this ongoing relationship with Tony because of his outstanding abilities as performer and teacher.

Our students have found him inspiring, engaging, challenging and non-threatening. They admire his thorough and thoughtful approach and his willingness to share his professional skills, resources, insights and connections.

I have pleasure in recommending Tony would would be happy to be contacted in this regard.