Tricolore Theatre Company


A Labour of Love

Click the image to read an article about Tricolore Theatre Company (3-page PDF), published in the September 2021 edition of the Messenger of St Anthony bulletin.

The article includes profiles of Tricolore’s founder, Nadia Ostacchini, and writer-in-residence Penny Culliford, as well as the company’s Catholic connections, links to the Italian Diaspora in London, current production plans and future project ideas.

Grimaldi’s Last Act

Edmund Dehn

Grimaldi’s Last Act is to be performed as part of an event exploring the prominent and controversial figure of the clown between tradition and innovations. Edmund Dehn plays Joseph Grimaldi, and Anthony Shrubsall directs.

The performance is to be prefaced by a 20-minute talk by Penny Culliford: an introduction to the period, and to Charles Dickens and the art of adaptation.

The event, which takes place at Bloomsbury Studio on 25th March, is organised by Dr Marta Niccolai, director of SELCS theatre projects at University College London in collaboration with Nadia Ostacchini, and with the generous sponsorship of the British Italian Society and Struts & Frets Theatre*.

Click here for details

Grimaldi’s Last Act is an audio play produced as a lockdown project by Tricolore Theatre Company. Click here to listen to the recording. It is free of charge. However, if you would like to support our (not-for-profit) work, please consider donating to Tricolore Theatre Company using the Donate button below.

Joseph Grimaldi was an A List celebrity of Regency England. He was an actor, comedian and dancer and if you have ever been to the pantomime or seen clowns at the circus, it’s likely that they were influenced by Joseph Grimaldi. In the late 1700s a clown was a minor character in a whimsical show called a Harlequinade, a largely silent performance with music, dancing, comedy and pathos. Grimaldi expanded that role into the baggy suited, colourful, painted-faced clown who graces our circuses today. He played many comedy and serious roles to audience acclaim.

Coming from a long line of stage performers, Grimaldi was a true London Italian. Born in Clare Market, Westminster in 1778, he first joined his father on the stage before the age of two and by 6 was a famous child star. As an adult, he went on to have huge success on the stage, in lavish pantomimes with many costume changes, songs, dances, comic routines effects and acrobatics. He became good friends with Lord Byron and George, the Prince Regent. However, the rigorous and dangerous stage routines, financial instability and family tragedies affected his physical and mental health.

Grimaldi’s last performance was on Friday June 27th, 1828 at Covent Garden Theatre and he died in 1837.

The young Charles Dickens was a fan of Grimaldi, having seen him play live and wrote an enchanting biography of the celebrated performer. That biography formed the basis of Tricolore Theatre Company’s stage play, which will be performed in London in 2023.

Grimaldi’s Last Act (the audio play) was written by Penny Culliford and adapted from the Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi by Charles Dickens. It is performed by Edmund Dehn, directed by Anthony Shrubsall, produced by Nadia Ostacchini, the sound edited by Adam Graver and the music arranged by Zelida Gordon, based on works of Grimaldi’s time, including 'Grimaldi’s Whim', which was written in his honour and 'Hot Codlins', which he sang live on stage.

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A Boy Called Porro

Tricolore's bilingual play for children (7+), Un Bambino di Nome Porro (A Boy Called Porro), by Penny Culliford, was premiered at the Pleasance Theatre in Islington in November 2019.

Anthony Shrubsall directed. The cast was as follows: Patrick Marciano, Eloise Jones, Nadia Ostacchini & Simon Brandon.

This production would never have happened without the generous support of our sponsors. Our lead sponsor was The Mazzini-Garibaldi Foundation. Valued supporters also included the Catholic Association of Performing Arts, Belluzzo & Partners, Roberto Gaglione Notary, Oddono's Gelati, and Casa Italiana S. Vincenzo Pallotti.

Click the image for a page featuring a bilingual synopsis, a PDF of the programme, video trailers in English and Italian, and a selection of production photographs by Paddy Gormley.

Saffron Hill

One Street, One Family, Three Stories.

Saffron Hill, written to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of The Mazzini Garibaldi Club and the 150th Anniversary of Giuseppe Garibaldi’s visit to London in 1864, received its premiere production at The Pleasance Theatre, Islington in October 2015, directed by Anthony Shrubsall.

Click the photo gallery image for the Saffron Hill page, which features reviews, commendations and programme, in addition to the photo gallery illustrated here.

Tricolore would like to thank The Mazzini Garibaldi Foundation, whose generous sponsorship made this production possible.

Tricolore also gratefully acknowledges the support of its food and drink sponsors, who provided wonderful hospitality during the Pleasance Theatre run of the play. See the links page for details of sponsors and links to their respective websites.

Saffron Hill is a new play in three scenes by Penny Culliford that follows the lives and fortunes of generations of a fictional family in Saffron Hill, Clerkenwell from the 1870s to the 1960s. The play explores, through the eyes of this family, the issues, attitudes and music of the times.

Although based around historical events, this is very much the stories of the personal lives, loves and losses of Italian immigrant families living in this area.

The Golden Chain
La Catena d'Oro

The Golden Chain: cast photo

The Golden Chain / La Catena d'Oro, was Tricolore's second bilingual (English & Italian) project based on a play by Penny Culliford.  The show premiered at Theatro Technis in June 2012, under the direction of Kenneth Michaels.  The cast (as pictured left to right) was as follows:  Simone Douani, Eugenia Caruso, Phil Gerrard, Nadia Ostacchini and Drew McKenzie.  The accordionist was Giorgio Albanese.

This production would not have been possible without the generous financial support of the Mazzini-Garibaldi Charitable Foundation.  Click below for a trailer of the show on YouTube.  

The Gingerbread Man
L'Ometto di Pan Pepato

The Gingerbread Man: live performance photo

Tricolore's first bilingual play was The Gingerbread Man / L'Ometto di Pan Pepato.  The traditional children's story was adapted by playwright and children's author Penny Culliford.  The production, which was directed by Liz Felton, toured to Rome in 2009 and was also warmly received at The Italian Cultural Institute in London, the Scalabrini Centre, St Peters Catholic Youth Club, Cambridge Italian Club, the Italian Bookshop and St Luke's Community Centre. The actors (as pictured below left to right) were Phil Gerrard, Eugenia Caruso and Nadia Ostacchini.   

The Gingerbread Man: cast photo

Warden Pie

Warden Pie: poster

In 2011, Tricolore toured the premiere production of Penny Culliford's one-act play Warden Pie.  Warden Pie was based on Dark Entry, The Legend of Nell Cook from the Ingoldsby Legends by Rev Richard H Barham.

The Condor and the Maiden

The Condor and the Maiden

Tricolore staged the premiere production of The Condor and the Maiden, by Dermot Murphy, directed by Simone Vause, at The King's Head Theatre, London in 2010.  The cast were as follows:  Nadia Ostacchini & Christopher Rees, (below) Lindsey Readman & Jennifer Jackson, (not pictured) Phil Gerrard & Michael Tomsu.

The Condor and the Maiden

The Man with the Flower in His Mouth

The Man with the Flower in His Mouth

Tricolore's first fully staged production was performed at Teatroshorts 2008, a festival of short stage plays, organised by our friends at Italian Nights. Tricolore's offering was The Man with the Flower in His Mouth by Pirandello, performed by Phil Gerrard, Peter Sutton and Nadia Ostacchini. The event was hosted by RADA, with performances in the Jerwood Vanbrugh Theatre.