Tale of Tales

Shadow puppetry breathes new life into true story of love, war, and migration.

Italy, World War Two. Fierce and brave Antoinetta, a known communist, heavily pregnant, has to flee to Australia to safety. Her husband Sante, a gentle storyteller, stays to fight against Europe’s rising fascist regimes. Separated by war and unimaginable distance, Sante and Antoinetta can communicate only through coded letters, their experiences mirrored and revealed through the folk stories they tell each other. Based on true stories, Tale of Tales fuses fairy tales with the horrors of war. Filled with shadow puppetry, romance and violence, Tale of Tales takes its name from classic Italian fairy tales and looks at how the stories we tell shape us and our families.


Form and Style

Tale of Tales is a storytelling and shadow puppetry show. Two performers fuse true stories of Italian and Australian experience of WWII with traditional fairytales while illustrating the stories through hand held torches cast onto a table-top set of 3D shadow puppets. Crystal objects and glass are also used with handheld light to create refracted shadows of atmosphere and magic. These shadow puppetry techniques come form Testoni’s training in Germany and Tale of Tales is the first Australian show to incorporate them. The style of moving light and still puppets create the feeling of watching a live film on the screen, while allowing the audience to see how the effect is achieved. There are also moments of dialogue and the projection of historical and family photos to flesh out the history of the play. The overall effect is like having a bedtime story told to you that slips into cinema.


Community and Audience Engagement

Clare and Paul are are able to provide one of two workshop experience depending on what best suits the community.


1. Telling family stories: In this 60 min workshop participants 16+ are run through performance based techniques in how to turn stories from your family’s history into heirloom tales that can be passed on to future generations. We will run through the basics of researching family history, what makes a family story into a family myth, and the art of telling tales well. Requirements: Paper, writing implements.


2. Introduction to shadow puppetry: This 60 min workshop can be catered for adults or children (over five years old) and is designed as a quick and fun introduction to the world of shadow puppetry. We will teach the basics of how to make paper puppets, what makes a good shadow, and how to build a 3D puppetry set. Requirements: Light-tight room. All other materials provided.

Available Marketing

  • Poster & postcard design
  • Media Release
  • Production images
  • Trailer
  • Archival recording
  • Reviews
  • Biographies


“Tale of Tales is a small, brilliant gem of storytelling and a breakout achievement for its deviser and performer Clare Testoni.” – The West Australian

“Tale of Tales is the most beautifully rendered World War II story since Life is Beautiful …it will leave an indelible print on your heart.” – Fourth Wall Media

”The images have a magical three-dimensionality and move with an almost cinematic quality…” – The West Australian



Clare Testoni (Writer/Director/Performer)

Clare is a writer, performer, and shadow artist. She has directed, written, and created puppets and AV design for Bow & Dagger. Clare trained in puppetry at Spare Parts Puppet Theatre in Fremantle, Western Australia and the International Shadow Puppetry Institute in Bamberg, Germany. For Bow & Dagger she has written and directed The Double, written and co-directed Tale of Tales, and written The Beast and The Bride. Clare is passionate about folk tales, fairy tales, and oral storytelling and was previously the host of Singing Bones -a podcast on the cultural history of fairy tales.


Paul Grabovac (Director/Performer)

After completing his theatre studies at Murdoch University, Paul has been performing in the local and national scene for over fifteen years. As a founding member of Renegade Productions, he has performed on shows such as The Tribe, Book of Death, and Stratagem of the Interlocking Rings. Paul completed a two show run at Fringe World 2017, his 10th fringe festival and has been given rave reviews for his performance in Tamagotchi Reset & Other Doomsdays “Grabovac is one of our most singular actors. His craft is his artlessness, and he gets better and better” David Zampitti, The West Australian



Not currently touring


Multidisciplinary, Theatre


Italian community, lovers of theatre, fairytales, shadow puppetry, history, performing arts students


50 minutes

Bump In

3 hours (2 hours if pre-rigged)

Bump Out

1 hour


- Weekly Fee: $7,000
- Remount: $9,000
- Royalties: 10%
*Above fees do not include touring costs

Company Contacts

Clare Testoni
0410 131 054

Tell me more

  • Hidden


Venue Format

Black Box, Flat Floor Hall, Studio, Flat Floor, Proscenium Arch, Thrust

Touring Party

3 (2 cast and 1 crew)


First possible performance: 2 hours post bump-in

Minimum break between shows: 80 minutes

Minimum stage width: 6 metres

Minimum stage depth: 6 metres

Minimum stage height: 3 metres

Staging and Set Description: x2 folding tables to be provided by the venue / 5 x puppetry boards, 2 x large torches, 4 x small torches, 3 times flat puppets, 2 times 3D puppets to be provided by the company

Lighting provided by the company: Hand operated torches (included under “props”)

Lighting to be provided by the venue: Desk to plot and operate cues, cool and warm front wash, booms for full side light wash, 2 x birdies, 2 x profile spot

Audio provided by the company: Playback via laptop. Our touring Stage Manager will operate sound and A.V. for performances. The Producer will provide a digital projector where the venue does not own one.

Audio to be provided by the venue: Theatrical stereo sound system to suit the venue with connectivity for 1 laptop running QLab. A short-throw digital projector is desirable, but can be provided by the producer , if required.

No. of additional lighting staff required from venue: Bump-in: x1 LX for 2 hours / Performance: x1 LX for 1.5 hours / Bump-out: x1 LX for 2 hours

No. of additional sound staff required from venue: Bump-in: x1 SND for 1 hour / Bump-out: x1 SND for 1 hour

Dressing Rooms Required: x2 (preferable) with washing facilities (desirable)

Other technical or performance notes: The deeper the stage the larger the projected images will appear. A shallow stage better suits an intimate audience.