About ombelico mask ensemble
Ombelico (pronounced “ohm-bay-LEE-co”) Mask Ensemble was founded in 2007 to bring outrageously fun theater to outdoor spaces in Philadelphia, through the physically raucous style of Commedia dell’Arte. Since then we have expanded our scope with national touring and international collaborations, and by infusing other theatrical styles such as Red Nose Clown, Greek Tragedy, and Traditional Italian Puppetry. In 2014, long-time collaborator Renato Arcuri founded our sister company, Ombelico Mask Ensemble Italia. In 2015, both companies created Ombelico Mask Academy to teach Commedia dell'Arte and related traditional Italian art forms. While we keep a faithful eye to the past, we hope to reinvigorate Commedia and explore its relevance for a modern audience. Most of all we strive for laughter and joy for audience and actor alike.
What Is An Ombelico?
Well, it’s a bellybutton.In Italian. And bellybuttons are funny.It probably made you smile right now. It’s also the center of our bodies and our original source of nourishment… which bears some relevance for a physical theatre company like ourselves.
Who is Ombelico?
We work with a rotating ensemble of performers and designers from Philadelphia to Italy, Spain, France, Israel, London and beyond.
Brendon Gawel (Founder and Artistic Director) is a director, teacher and performer. He began his love of Commedia and mask at the University of the Arts where he received a BFA in Acting. Brendon performed with the short-lived Zanni Commedia Troupe, and had the privilege to create Commedia shows with Nomadic Theatre’s Sarah Liane Foster and world-renowned Master Teacher Giovanni Fusetti, and toured these shows through southern Europe. He also studied Commedia with Master Teacher Antonio Fava at the American International School for Commedia dell’Arte, and was Commedia Coach and performer for Drexel University’s Son of Arlecchino. He has also performed with Mum Puppettheatre, Enchantment Theatre, Theatre Ariel, Myra Bazell, Lantern Theater, McCarter Theater, Clowns Without Borders, Tempo Dello Spuntino, and as a puppeteer on the Sprout Television Network. Brendon has directed for Ombelico Mask Ensemble, Mum Puppettheatre, Philadelphia Children’s Theatre, Walking Fish Theatre, Windsor Mountain Traveling Theatre, West Chester University and assistant-directed for Drexel University and Arden Theatre.
Renato Arcuri is an actor, cinematographer, pedagogue and founder of OMBELICO MASK ENSEMBLE ITALIA. He creates site-specific spectacles with the National Archeological Museum in Florence, Italy. Renato earned an MFA in acting at the Accadamia D’Arte Drammatica in Catanzaro and an MFA in cinematography at NUCT at Cinecitta’ Studios. He now works as a Director of Photography at Cinecitta’ Studios. He describes his work as ‘post-post modern, ecclectic but perplexed’.