Troupe Dart

Troupe Dart was a Canberra-based contemporary Commedia dell’Arte company that I founded in 2001 and directed until it disbanded in 2006.

Commedia dell’Arte is an Italian Renaissance form of popular physical comedy that uses masks, improvisation, music, slapstick and verbal wit to tell stories that expose human greed, hypocrisy and stupidity. It is where such characters as Harlequin, Pierrot and Punch (before he turned into a hand puppet) come from originally.

Troupe Dart created and performed three plays and various short sketches.

Arlecchino’s Gift was our first show and made as a simple all-ages show with lots of room for actor improvisation, in which a broke Arlecchino desperately tries to get money to buy a gift for his girlfriend Colombina’s birthday. Performed at the Belconnen Teddy Bear’s Picnic, 2003, The National Multicultural Fringe Festival, 2004, The National Folk Festival, 2004 and the Barraba Arts Festival 2005. The cast was Max Barker, Gretel Burgess, Pablo Latona, Skye Morton and Simone Penkethman.

Spank was a darker and more political play, in which the Madame of an exclusive men’s club has invited an expert on national security to address the patrons on the urgent matter of the threat of refugee mime artists. Spank was performed at the National Multicultural Fringe Festival 2005 and the National Folk Festival, 2005, with a cast of Max Barker, Mem Bossard, Pablo Latona, Rebecca Meston, Skye Morton and Simone Penkethman.

Bizzurk drew on the southern Italian Commedia traditions of Pulcinella, or Punch and his dysfunctional relationship with his wife. In our play, the lazy Punch is sacked under the new WorkChoices legislation, his girlfriend Donna tries to get a job in a strip club, but Punch won’t let her, so they revert to blackmail to get money, only to become terror suspects. Bizzurk was performed at the National Multicultural Fringe Festival 2006, Adelaide Fringe Festival 2006, the Majura Festival 2006, and the National Folk Festival 2006, with a cast of Steve Kennedy, Pablo Latona, Skye Morton and Simone Penkethman.