Saturday, September 30, 2006

John Cooper on the Rastellis

Photo from Circus Scandinavia

This just in from British correspondent John Cooper...


On 13 June you posted a video clip of part of
the act of Italian clowns, the Rastellis. Except that
strictly speaking it isn't The Rastellis!

At that time, the 4 men were presenting two acts, the
clown act and a trampoline number. It was the
trampoline number that was called The Rastellis. The
clown act was known as Chocolate and Company,
Chocolate being the clown name of the black gentleman,
a Brazilian whose given name was Aristedes Feirria
(although I don't guarantee the spelling).

In the clip you will see twin augustes. The one who is
always in the ring is Oreste Rastelli. The other is
his son, Alfredo. The white face is Antonio Poletto,
usually known as Tony.

When Oreste Rastelli retired, his place in the act was
taken by Alfredo's son, also Oreste, using much the
same make-up.

Once Alfredo's other son, Vittorio, was ready to join
the act, he took Chocolate's place, adopting a make-up
which was a brown base with white around the eyes and
mouth. Comparable to that of his predecessor.
Chocolate retired, and it is believed that he died in

By the time the act appeared at Blackpool Tower Circus
(for the seasons in 1980, 1981 and 1982) it was known
as The Rastellis, and the personnel was Alfredo,
Oreste Jr., Vittorio and Tony. This was certainly not
their first appearance in Britain, as they had worked
many ice shows as well as in variety (including The
London Palladium).

On Tony Poletto's retirement, the white face role fell
to Oreste's wife.

Alfredo Rastelli died in May 2005. The family now runs
an ice rink in Italy.

I refer you to the video clip I mentioned earlier.
Towards the end, Alfredo enters with a tuba. You will
have no trouble working out what the actual gag will
be. But notice Oreste's perfect positioning.

John Cooper.


Anonymous said...

I suppose I'm allowed to comment on my own posting.
Don't you ever sleep, Pat?!?!?
Good choice of photo (of Alfredo Rastelli) as the webmaster of Cirkus Skandinavia (it's based in Denmark, hence the spelling) is a personal friend of mine. In fact I was with him in Copenhagen 3 weeks ago. We saw Cirkus Dannebrog and a Royal Charity Gala performance of Cirkus Benneweis. Both excellent.

And now that I know things get through - keep watching.

And feel free - everybody - to ask questions about European clowns. I'll respond on the same page on which you raise the query, even if it's only a stop gap. Or, come to that, to admit ignorance.

Good to be with you all more fully.


Christian Wedde said...

You say there is a video clip of the Rastellis, with the the clown act known as chocolate and company.
Chocolate ( Arrestides Ferreira ) was my uncle (married to my aunt Elsie) and he was ending his days in Norway) I wonder if you still have that video clip or anything more about Arrestides. If you do please send me an e-mail to