Gem frees tales of fam­ily

The West Australian - - WEEKEND ARTS -

Tale of Tales is a small, bril­liant gem of sto­ry­telling and a break­out achieve­ment for its de­viser and per­former Clare Te­stoni. Te­stoni’s pre­vi­ous work, in­clud­ing The Beast and the Bride and West of the Moon, has ex­plored her in­ter­est in fairy­tales, but any con­cern that her imag­i­na­tion and tal­ents are con­fined to and by them is quickly dis­pelled in Tale of Tales.

She uses the fairy­tales col­lected by Gi­ambat­tista Basile in the 17th cen­tury (which in­clude the ear­li­est known ver­sions of Ra­pun­zel and Cin­derella) as a jump­ing off point for a wider, deeper story of four gen­er­a­tions of her own fam­ily, the rise of fas­cism in Italy and the re­sis­tance to it, the flight of many Ital­ians to Aus­tralia and their fate here.

It’s a pas­sion­ate state­ment against fear and prej­u­dice, and es­pe­cially the prac­tice of in­tern­ment that is of­ten its con­se­quence. The par­al­lels to the same prac­tices in our own times are clearly and pow­er­fully made.

It’s also the true love story of her great-grand­par­ents, Sante and An­toinetta, and their strange, sad part­ing and es­trange­ment. Their story is paired with Basile’s The Princess Who Couldn’t Laugh or Cry, The Crys­tal Tun­nel, The Dragon and the Flea and oth­ers.

The nar­ra­tive tech­nique gives Basile’s sto­ries new life and mean­ing — it’s a les­son in the pur­pose and power of fairy­tales as well as a won­der­ful de­vice for the telling of her own story.

Te­stoni is a shadow pup­peteer, and she takes her craft to a new level. Work­ing along­side the ex­cel­lent ac­tor Paul Grabo­vac, shin­ing torches on tiny cut-out fig­ures on ta­bles, she throws sil­hou­ettes of peo­ple and places — vil­lages and cities, in­tern­ment camps — on to the white-pa­pered walls of the stage.

The im­ages have a mag­i­cal three-di­men­sion­al­ity and move with an al­most cin­e­matic qual­ity. They are in­ter­spersed with fam­ily pho­tos and archival ma­te­rial, some very shock­ing, of Mus­solini’s Italy and in­tern­ment camps.

Tale of Tales is an hon­est show, and a heart­felt one; as Basile says in The Sun, the Moon and Talia, “a story left un­told is des­tined to re­peat it­self”.

It’s a good thing, then, that Clare Te­stoni has told hers — and that she’s done it so very well.

Pic­ture: David Cox Me­dia

Clare Te­stoni de­vised Tale of Tales.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.