Saturday 26 March 2022

Fabio Motta is off the leash with his Melbourne Comedy Festival show "Spot".

You can't help but see Spot, a fictional puppy from the 80s, as this cute animal always finding himself in all sorts of adventures due to his curiosity and eagerness. But then you probably haven't seen Fabio Motta's Spot. Returning for a second season as part of this year's Melbourne International Comedy Festival, this adorable pup becomes the antagonist in Motta's story that explores just how much of a multicultural haven Australia is. Inspired by true events, Spot is a contemporary immigrant tale of Mario, a young migrant to the country working towards his dream of becoming a “very good English actor!”

A performer for a number of years, the inspiration for Spot came at a surprising moment for Motta. "I was doing a vocal warm-up and out of the blue, found myself unconsciously saying “Why did you take me away?” which ended up with me having a big cry as I recollected, as a small child, never having had a say when my family migrated to Australia from Italy," he recalls.

It was during his first day at school, an eight year old who barely knew any English, where Motta had his fateful encounter with Spot, one what would eventually lead to this show. "I was given children’s books like Spot the Dog and The Very Hungry Caterpillar to learn how to read, while the rest of my classmates were reading Harry Potter and Goosebumps. Even though those books were too advanced for my English language skills, it was at that moment I remember feeling ashamed and different to everyone else, and that stayed with me for a very long time in my life."

"That was the seed of the idea. The name for my show comes from these characters with Spot the character in my show no longer that cute little puppy but a grotesque re-incarnation of the character from the children’s book. He is now the manifestation of Mario’s alter ego. Spot represents the voice inside Mario’s mind that makes him feel small or less than everyone else, which is ultimately what racism is. Making someone feel small or less than, so that the racist individual can feel bigger and superior."

Just as the inspiration for the show was unexpectedly received by Motta, so too were the hugely positive reactions from audiences during the first season of the show, something he hopes he can capitalise on with this second run. "I did not expect the story to be met with the response it did. The number of people who connected with, and related to the story really blew me away. Some audience members who were fellow migrants, other people of colour, and anyone who has felt marginalised told me after the show how they related to the story," Motta recalls. "I think what struck people the most was how comical the show is and how entertained they were by all the wild characters. Having a second season has provided the opportunity to add recent events in Australian politics that fit very well along with the removal of some scenes and the addition of new ones. I wanted to make Spot sharper, more physical, and tighter."

Motta collaborated with John Tummino (who co-devised and wrote Spot) and movement director Zya Kane, who guided Motta in telling this psychical demanding story. "It was a great pleasure working with John and Zya. They became like my mum and dad during rehearsals. I think what blew me away was their ability to honour how I wanted to tell the story, and offering support in all other areas," he tells me. "John was a huge help in structuring the story. He is a bit of a wordsmith so was great at fine-tuning the writing from my improvisations. Zya helped me refine the physicality of the characters. She is a very nurturing artist and I felt like she was always there to make sure I took my vitamins and took care of myself. They have a strong love and connection to the story which has given me the courage to be brave enough to tell it."


Explosives Factory, 67 Inkerman St St. Kilda
5 - 15 April, Mon - Sat 7:30pm
60 minutes
$40 Full | $32 Concession | $25 Previews and Students
Theatreworks and Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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