26 Mar

Mr Affogato

Commedia dell’ Arte Production

Directed by Tony Kishawi – Performed by Full Tilt Performance Troupe 29th April – 9 May 1998

At the Street Studio, The Street Theatre ACT
Supported by ACT Government through its Cultural Council

This is the actors’ Theatre.
This is Theatre – before the playwright was invented. We could say that today Commedia dell’Arte’ falls into the category of ‘Physical Theatre’, but I would call it just ‘pure Theatre’. Just the actors getting together without a director, without the writer, and coming up with a play, actors at play!
Commedia dell’Arte’ means literally ‘comedy of the [actors’] ‘guild’ and is essentially improvised comedy, which follows a plot outline – a ‘scenario’, rather than written dialogue. It’s usually ‘right here and now’ Theatre, just as ‘Theatre Sports’ is immediate and improvised; interacting with audience intervention.

Creating Mr Affogatto.

Having worked previously with ‘Full Tilt’, we had a similar understanding of the way we wanted to work with the ‘Spirit of the Mask’ as the strength of this production. It is said that a good Mask has a spirit that will take over the wearer, but in turn, the actor has to be inspired by the Mask to make the Mask come to life. After extensive work with a spirited mask the actor will start to talk about the Mask as if it has a life of it’s own. To talk about what it would or wouldn’t do in a given situation.
We did not want to recreate Commedia characters from history alone, the Spirit of the Mask starts with literally taking the face value of the Mask. Mirrors are used in this process, some teachers of Mask work say that you must never have a mirror in the room: for me the reflected image amplifies the transformation for the actor, only then after extensive improvisations do we slowly introduce historical traits.

Full Tilt Performance Troupe

Is a Canberra-based physical Theatre troupe that uses clown, masks, circus and spectacle to create performance that is sweaty, silly, can be understood and sometimes, has something to say.

We formed Full Tilt in February 1996, after twelve hours of arguing over a name. We were immediately gifted with a grant from Arts ACT, a week’s training with Tony Kishawi that gave us a shared vocabulary, and a bargain basement price for a pile of masks and costumes from a stilt company that was disbanding. Fortune was smiling upon us!

While circus, spectacle and theatrics have been part of Full Tilt Performance Troupe’s bag of tricks, the basis of all our work is the clown who always wants to play with the audience. Ours is not work that can be played in an empty Theatre, our characters only exist to play with their audiences. And the characters are happy to play with children or adults, in a park, a crowded shopping center, or within a Theatre.

Full Tilt Performance Troupe still has a long way to go in developing a style of physical comedy that few people are doing in Australia. The art of clown appears simple and childish, but is as demanding as any other discipline. The experiments we are conducting in forging a new, relevant and uniquely Australian version of the Commedia dell’ Arte is now feeding into an initiative by Tony Kishawi to form a national Commedia troupe.

We believe that interactive, vibrant Theatre is more necessary than ever in a culture of increasing isolation and alienation.

Full Tilt’s creations so far include:

  • Potion X, our first Commedia piece;
  • roaming performances at Floriade 96 and 97;
  • Freeze Frame, an experiment using Commedia characters performing in front of slides of works by local artists;
  • original roaming characters for Masters Games 97;
  • roaming characters for shopping centres and conferences in Canberra and Sydney;
  • clown shows for the 96 and 98 Canberra festivals;
  • Milo’s Munchies Message: a health message solo clown show for Canberra preschools.

Full Tilt Performance Troupe is, of course, available for hire, as performers and teachers of clown and Commedia. PO Box 1154 Dickson, ACT Australia. phone/fax 02 62304295

The Mask Makers

We have taken the works of three Mask makers, Steve Novac, Leslie McLennan and David Skeets all living in Australia and have found that their standard of craft is equal to, if not better than, what can be found in and around the tourist shops in Europe and even in Venice. Mixing the style of Masks in one production is probably disturbing to design artists alike, I’m sorry for that! We find that using one or two spirited Masks from whereever they come from work, better than using a ‘set’ of Masks made in the same style just for a theatrical concept and that alone is not a good enough reason to perform with Masks.