Associazione Figli d’Arte Cuticchio.
The Street Theatre.
Wed Oct 19 at 7.30pm.
This family run Sicilian puppet troupe only popped in for one night en route to Sydney but anyone who was fortunate enough to go was treated to a gorgeous short show with plenty of time afterwards to look closely at the puppets and to talk to the puppeteers (if their Italian was up to it).
The stories go back to the Middle Ages and later epic poems like Orlando Furioso and Orlando Innamorato where Charlemagne and his armored warriors battle the Saracens. This show was occasionally more ‘innamorato’ than ‘furioso’, but battle predominated. Orlando fought Rinaldo for the Princess Angelica and there was a battle to rescue the Princess from a giant, but most of the rest of the action seemed to concern armored Christians and Saracens biffing each other in wonderfully rambunctious combat, while the chief puppeteer (of three) narrated with sometimes two puppets in hand.
(And they are not light, being of solid wood and metal and about one third human size. They are worked with a mixture of long rods and cords. They are mostly human but a delicate horse and a savage snake also had their moments to the delight of the children in the audience.)
All of this was done in a most satisfactory way, with the puppeteers stamping feet on the floor to aid the noise of battle as metal sword fell upon metal armor and the piles of dead mounted. Rather gruesome, too, were the puppets who could be beheaded, cut in two or unseamed from the nave to the chops.
In Sicily this family company would perform in more theatrical surroundings, but the bare Street Two stage, with many puppets hanging in a row in readiness, the frequently turned backdrops and a colourful banner showing in comic book form the scenes to be performed, provided more than ample atmosphere with a bit of selective lighting.
The Italian Embassy clearly had a hand in organising the event and they, The Street and Associazione Figli d’Arte Cuticchio are to be thanked for an unusual and rousing evening of puppet theatre.