C'era una volta

[… They had ready red-hot iron shoes,
in which she had to dance until she fell down dead ]

from the Brothers Grimm’s “Snow White”


“C’era una volta”, the new work by Ondadurto Teatro, is much more than a show about princesses and heroes. Stories and legends coming from the tradition of great authors, from the Brother’s Grimm to Lewis Carroll, from Johann Karl August Musäus to Hans Christian Andersen, are reinterpreted in a noir atmosphere and a “bittersweet” air. The fairy-tale land of our imagination, so sweet and lovely in our memories, will be transformed, and the lines between Good and Evil will become deeply evanescent. Is it possible that Little Red Riding Hood has a dark side? And why can’t a Witch or a Stepmother have a good, sweet-natured or melancholic side?


“C’era una volta” is a colourful and enchanting Revue, a multidisciplinary work where fascinating moving objects, water effects and the fusion of technological influences work together to create an evocative and extended experience for the audience.

It is a contemporary work that shakes up the old tradition by strips away the “sugar coated” essence of a fairy-tale.


Cast and Crew: 12/13 people on tour
Running time: 60 min
Venue: show suitable for large open spaces and historical locations
Language: NO TEXT – non verbal show
Audience: Ideally suited to approx. 1.300 people. It can accommodate up to 2,000 audience members
Target: any age bracket. Suitable for an international audience
Miscellaneous: Use of small fireworks and water effects
Avant Première: June 2013 >> Mirabilia International Circus and Performing Arts – ITALY
Première: September 2013 >> FiraTàrrega – SPAIN
On tour: 2014 – 2018

Co-production: Mirabilia Festival (M.I.C.P.A.F) – ITALY / FiraTàrrega – SPAIN
Artistic Residence: FiraTàrrega – Tàrrega – SPAIN
Main Sponsor: Massimo Carsetti – ITALY
Patronage: Fondazione Vodafone Italia – ITALY
Supported by: inEURoff Festival – ITALY / Istituto Italiano di Cultura // Barcellona – SPAIN
Artistic concept: Marco Paciotti, Cristian Paraskevas and Lorenzo Pasquali
Directed by: Marco Paciotti
Assistant director: Roberto Andolfi
Machinery and Objects: Lorenzo Pasquali and Massimo Carsetti
Costume Design: Claudia Tortora
Lighting Design: Costel Iulian Prodran
International Consultance: Ute Classen Kulturmanagement – GERMANY

The clock is ticking, time is flowing…Suddenly, the 12 bells toll, it’s midnight and everything has begun!


Dancing to a old-style overture, the actors help each other to get dressed and ready and then they draw out a large structure made of stairs and different platforms…It all seems like a Great Variety Show!


The wicked Stepmother appears and they all become Puppets in her service, manipulated throughout the space, according to her whim.


“Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who in this land is the fairest of all?” “Thou art fairer than all who are here, Lady Queen. But more beautiful still is another Girl, as I ween”.


And then the Girl appears: a Girl, with red hat and coat… Could she be…? Who knows…! A timeless character, who, like a common thread, will guide the audience into our story.


An unreal world, where an improbable Mad Hatter and his Carousel of Time will bring our heroine on a surreal and fantastic journey: She will pass through stories and legends on a breathless tour made up of enchanting and colourful locations.


A Glittering Fairy with her absurd beauty salon comes on the scene, followed by moment played out in the style of a gangster-movie, where, through the use of video-projection, sounds effects and comic-style acting, a smoke filled Chicago will be recreated on stage. In this atmosphere a Charming Wolf and his bungling minions act out their adventures, including shoot outs, chases and beautiful dolls…they even beat up the poor Grandma! But every effort will fail…She will finally subdue the Wolf and make him her faithful puppy.

Suddenly, Two Half-Sisters appear with their entourage of servants, busy eating and constantly trying on every kind of shoe. A grotesque scene with a dramatic atmosphere that will culminate in an uncontrollable jet of water: the desperate tears of two rejected women, who were not chosen, for whom the shoe doesn’t fit! And just like in the original story, our Heroine will find her Shoe and then will be saved by her Charming Prince, who will come to her tower in a flying Vespa.


But the wicked Stepmother will not like this happy ending: she only believes in her own beauty, and she is the only one who can be happy in this story! Here is her Enchanted Mirror moving closer to dance a sad tango with her, a melancholic Milonga. The Mirror will turn into Light, the Stepmother into Shadow, and the Shadow into a story of love, an eternal, impossible love…Jealous of both the Happiness and Love of our Heroine, the Stepmother will use her magic for the last time, changing our Heroine into a White Swan.


In the end, the Mad Hatter and his Carousel of Time will come back to try to restore order, to guide our heroine and to help her…but what will happen? How will end the story?


The dark, hidden side of the story, the moments of melancholy, disillusion…Ondadurto Teatro will give life to these fairy-tale worlds using a poetic and a grotesque style. The whole, and more over is “C’era una volta”.

The use of machinery and objects follows on from and develops the research conducted by the company during all its previous performances. The set design concept revolves around a set of Stairs, which create various levels on the stage: a series of different shaped stairs, placed as if they were examined from different points of view. Each part, taken separately, is perfectly realistic and consistent, but considered as a whole they are impossible and even made up of contradictions. Stairs are the symbol of the link between various States of Being.


Connected to this is the idea of up and down, of movement and hierarchy between the different levels; the space becomes a structure that is articulated by various planes, steps and the interplay of solid and void. An expressive space, moved and transformed by the live action of the performers on stage, who, therefore, become both actors and manipulators at the same time, is a consistent characteristic of the Show.


Then there are also, moving screens, a Tower Structure, an Iron Dress, a flying Vespa, a big Mechanical Clock, a Unicycle with a sitting room, a water Fountain.


The choice of using video and projections is connected to the search for balance between the various media. Closely related to the dramaturgical structure, video is an essential part of the show, just like music, actors and machinery / objects in movement. These Projections will invade different spaces. Thus, there will be different surfaces for images, solids and voids, which will be disassembled and recomposed, transformed, multiplied.


Words, letters and video effects will become virtual background, constantly changing: not fixed images on static screens, but dynamic projections in movement.


Taking its cue from the vast repertoire of the most famous Italian “songs” from the 1940s, and from Ennio Morricone’s masterpieces, mixed with contemporary music and electronic sounds, the soundtrack completes the relationship between different media, just like the machinery / objects and video projections.

The vintage flavour of the soundtrack is offset by songs composed especially for the show: a composition that becomes a real dramatic element.

Best Size: 22 m x 15 m just in terms of performance area required.

Height above the stage: 10 – 12 metres must be left free for scenery structures as well as enabling the use of pyrotechnics effects.


380 Volt, 5 pole plug (for light + sound + video)
32 Amps / 36 KW CEE
We use “a bit” of water during the show, so we need water-safe electrical cables.


* 10 FRESNEL 2000 watts (with flags and colour gels)
* 14 PC 1000 watts – (with flags and color) – theatrical spot light
>> no PAR, no PC 500 watts, no LED lights,
>> with the agreement of the group, it is possible to use FRESNEL
* 6 PROFILE 2000 watts >> 32° angle
>> with the agreement of the group, it is possible to use n°10 – PROFILE ETC 750 watts >> 36° angle
* 1 PROFILE ETC 750 watts >> 36° angle
* 1 follow spot 2000 watts with color gels – positioned on a elevated point as we need the light to pass over the heads of the audience >> A FOLLOW SPOT SEPARATED WITH DIMMER SWITCH ON CONTROL DESK and COLOUR CHANGE POSSIBILITIES
* 1 24-way mixer
* 5 lift – wincher system
* 1 intercom
* cables
* 5 DIMMER X 29 CH X 2.5 kw >> WE WORK WITH THE SPOTS COMBINED SIMMETRICALLY LEFT/RIGHT ON 1 CHANNEL (where it is possible to combine the 1 kw spot)


* 1 6-way audio mixer
* 4 PA speakers with amplification + 2 SUB – 2,500 watts
* 2 wedge monitors


* We need a “SCREEN SIZE” of 10 m wide by 5 m high: the position of the beamer depends on the MODEL and the LENS
* We use/need VGA or HDMI input
* We need to know in advance which beamer will be made available for use: MAKE and MODEL
* We require a small scaffolding system where it is possible to hang/position the beamer behind and above the audience >> minimum height is around 6 m
In 2014, there were times when the company brought its own beamer. In this case, we won’t need anything in terms of video at the location.
>> For further details about the Technical Rider please CONTACT US

[…] an astonishing and powerful finale […]

Online Review


[…] the strange obsessions of the wicked Stepmother gazing in her mirror […] a fairy-tale repertoire narrated with a decidedly noir atmosphere […]

La Repubblica


[…] A Charming Prince driving a flying Vespa […]

Corriere del Mezzogiorno

 […] engaging the audience in a whirlwind of lighting and special effects […]

Online Review