Tutta Casa Letto E Chiesa

Premiere 20 March,1985
Venue U2, Universal Theatre, Fitzroy, Victoria

Tutta Casa Letto E Chiesa poster line drawings of a church, a house and a bed

Poster designed by Ken Evans (1985)

TUTTA CASA LETTO E CHIESA by Italian political playwrights, Dario Fo and Franca Rame was a suite of four one-act plays known in English as Female Parts.

It was an unusual work in the Handspan Theatre repertoire. It was not a new Australian play, it was heavily text based, written for solo performance and although it used some animated imagery in its staging, its design did not drive its performance. It was nevertheless a work developed by a Handspan member eager to explore new and alternative performance on the Australian stage.

Carmelina Di Guglielmo initially produced the piece for a short season at the Universal Theatre in October,1984. She had been inspired to explore her own cultural heritage after touring to Spoleto in Italy with Handspan's production, Secrets (1983), and subsequently travelling through the country to meet distant relatives. She was keen to celebrate this heritage in her work and her production of TUTTA CASA LETTO E CHIESA, (in literal English, "All Home, Bed and Church") was her first project.

The play had been performed in English by Evelyn Krape at the Universal Theatre in 1984 and had been a great success. A key objective for Carmelina was however, to perform it in Italian. It was a contemporary play that introduced the universal and topical issues of women's oppression. Presented in its original language, it was accessible to Australians whose first language was Italian and for whom such opportunities were rare.

TUTTA CASA ... was designed by Ken Evans, rehearsed in the Handspan studio and built in the company workshop by Handspan colleagues. Carmelina received support to mount the project from the Australia Council for the Arts and from the Italian Institute in Melbourne, but was keen for Handspan to present the work after its premiere season, particularly as she was a key performer in the work.

While animated images did not people the stage, it was nevertheless a highly visual production and its design communicated its narrative and concepts to non-Italian speaking audience members.

Its four acts, performed alternately by Maria Portesi and Carmelina Di Guglielmo were:

  • Il Risveglio (Waking Up) : about a young factory worker who has overslept, and her attempt to let her husband have an extra hour's slept while she searches desperately for her car keys.

  • La Mamma Fricchettona (The Punk Mother) the story of a young woman who has taken sanctuary in a church, chased by the police for her political views that have become contradictory to those of her conservative husband and son.

  • Michele Lu Lanzone (Michael the Warrior) a mother who has gone mad, tells the story of her son, Michael, who after finding a water source for his village was found murdered and his body used as a plug to the supply.

  • La Medea (Medea) an evolution of the Euripidean tragedy told by a woman who in rage, rather than in jealousy, has killed her children in an outburst against the oppressive burden of her love for them.

Tutta Casa Letto E Chiesa a woman in distress seated on chair

La Mamma Fricchettona Carmelina Di Guglielmo
Click photos to enlarge

Tutta Casa Letto E Chiesa a woman in black on floor stretching upwards

Photographs: © Elisabetta D'Amore, 1985

TUTTA CASA LETTO E CHIESA was presented by Handspan for its return season to the Universal Theatre and its subsequent tour to Mildura.

Multicultural issues introduced to Handspan through this production were the foundation for later works created by the company, several spearheaded by Carmelina: A Change of Face (1986); Who Are You (1987) and Dante - Through the Invisible (1996)

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Creative team
Writer Dario Fo & Franca Rame from ''Female Parts"
Director Franco Cavarra
Assistant director Roberto Micale
Designer Ken Evans
Lighting designer Philip Lethlean
Producer Carmelina Di Guglielmo
Carmelina Di Guglielmo La Mamma Fricchettona & La Medea
Maria Portesi Il Risveglio & Michele Lu Lanzone
Production team
Language Consultant Gabrielle Caluzzi
Translations Luciana Boscariol
Set Construction Mark Patton
Stage manager Lizz Talbot
Assistant stage manager David Hope
Publicist Jude Bourguignon
Photographer Elisabetta D’Amore
20 - 31 March U2, Universal Theatre, Fitzroy, Victoria
25 - 27 April The Dante Aligheri Society, Mildura, Victoria
Total performances 24
Total audience 2020

Scroll back to Click Tabs: The Production