AN ACCLAIMED band of traditional Italian troubadours hit the streets of Lismore yesterday ahead of a series of upcoming local performances.

Professional actors Claudio Modugno, Roberto Macchi, Marco Zoppello and Lorenzo Bassotto, from the renowned Commedia dell’Art based in Verona, the famous setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, wooed by-standers with an impromptu alfresco performance in full costume in Magellan Street at lunchtime.

The troupe will be performing Harlequin’s Secret in Italian at the Lismore Italo Club on Friday, then in English on Saturday night at the Lismore Bowling Club, as well as a series of performances at Byron Bay, Maclean, Trinity and Richmond River high schools.

Mr Macchi said the company was ‘re-founded’ about 30 years ago.

“It was formed to spread the message of theatre to young people and to spread Italian language and culture over the world. That’s why the Government supports us,” he said.

Fellow thespian Marco Zoppello said it was the third year the troupe had toured Australia, but this was the biggest one yet.

“The first year was like an adventure, just Roberto and me, and it sowed the seeds,” he said.

“By the second year schools were calling us to perform.”

Mr Zoppello said his troupe was particularly taken by the space in Australia, and impressed by the children’s curiosity and manners.

“The children are very polite,” he laughed. “And all of us are touched by all the space, everything is bigger. We went to a vine-yard and it went on for infinity.”

The traditional Italian ‘comedians’ are credited with the birth of professional acting in the 17th Century.

The company, whose tour is supported by the Italian Government and a range of local sponsors, will spend the next three months in Australia.

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