Various Cities, Germany
RuhrTrienniale: One of Germany’s major arts events begins a new cycle every three years with a fresh visionary at the helm. This fall the RuhrTrienniale hands its reins to director and composer Heiner Goebbels, who has already had a banner year, winning the International Ibsen Award in March (an honor that comes with the equivalent, in Norwegian kroner, of a $400K purse). For his first of three annual multidisciplinary festivals, Goebbels has included his own stagings of John Cage’s Europeras 1&2, plus his latest music-theatre piece, When the mountain changed its clothing, featuring a girls’ choir from Slovenia.
Other big names on the program, which extends throughout the northwestern Ruhr region of Germany, include experimental French choreographer Jérôme Bel, who has created Disabled Theater with mentally disabled actors from Zurich’s Theater HORA. This is not Bel’s first time working with dancers from outside the traditional mold, but “their disabilities,” Bel has stated of his latest ensemble, “explode my theatrical and choreographic knowhow. They are a living subversion of theatre and dance.” After its RuhrTrienniale run in Essen, Germany, HORA will tour the production this month to Geneva and the German cities of Kassel and Mainz. Ruhr audiences can also get an early look at Spades, which kicks off Canadian auteur Robert Lepage’s new four-part show cycle, Playing Cards. (The productions Hearts, Diamonds and Clubs will follow.) Spades is set during the U.S.’s war in Iraq and unfolds in two desert cities, Las Vegas and Baghdad. After the RuhrTrienniale, the next chance to see this production will be over the course of the winter, in Sénart, Lyon and Paris, France. (Through Sept 30; (49) 209-605071-00; www.ruhrtriennale.de)
Gwangju, South Korea
Asian Culture Complex/Asian Arts Theatre Residency: Gwangju’s Asian Culture Complex began as an architectural rendering of a “Forest of Light”—a cluster of buildings, park space and a memorial on the site of the Gwangju Uprising of May 18, 1980 (a key event on South Korea’s path to democracy). Though the ACC isn’t slated to open till 2014, a Project Development Initiative already in its third year is meant to ensure that when it does, it will have a network of relationships with cutting-edge artists to draw from in filling the new space.
For the initiative’s next step, three shows were selected from 70 proposals spanning 16 countries for weeklong residencies this fall. The evaluators were Frie Leysen, artistic director of Asian Arts Theatre (a future tenant of the ACC), Sunghee Kim, artistic director of a multidisciplinary art festival that takes place annual in Seoul, Festival Bo:m; and Max-Philip Aschenbrenner, head of Switzerland’s Musil Tanz Theatre Südpol.
In addition to financial and technical support for September’s residencies, culminating in public workshops and presentations, the projects will have a shot at a full commission for a premiere at the completed ACC. They include, from Korea, Tacit Group’s tacit.perform, in which the company’s “compositional programmers” (i.e., artists with a background in music and computer graphics) create nonverbal performance environments much like dream-walking through a video game. From Thailand comes the interactive Wishes, Lies and Dreams / Wonderfully Wonderful by Sarawut Chutiwongpeti, which shares the hopes and dreams of a variety of community members, including children, artists and the disabled. And European/Korean collaboration This place, spearheaded by Belgian collective CABRA VZW, pivots on the concept of “displacement” and the relationship among objects, performers, space and language. (Sept. 16–23; (82) 2-764-6547; www.cct.go.kr/AAT2012)
Various Cities, Ireland, the U.K. and the U.S.
DruidMurphy: In 2005 and 2006, Galway, Ireland’s Druid Theatre earned international plaudits for DruidSynge, its ambitious repertory ensemble staging of the complete works of John Millington Synge. Now Druid’s director, Garry Hynes, is embarking with her company on another major celebration of a playwright’s oeuvre. The Murphy in DruidMurphy is contemporary Irish dramatist Tom, who previously premiered two of his plays with Druid. His Conversations on a Homecoming, A Whistle in the Dark and Famine look at issues of Irish emigration in, respectively, the 1970s, 1960s, and 1846. Throughout DruidMurphy’s tour, the trio of works can be seen individually or in the above reverse-chronological order as a marathon viewing experience.
The triptych premiered in Galway in May, with an encore at July’s Galway Arts Festival (a co-producer) and also traveled this summer to London for the Cultural Olympiad and New York City for the Lincoln Center Festival, another producing partner. Now through the end of October it continues to tour Ireland, the U.K. and the U.S., including October stops at the Dublin Theatre Festival and Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center. And on Sept. 28, Connecticut’s Quinnipiac University, the third sponsor of DruidMurphy, will officially open Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum (An Ghorta Mór), home to the world’s largest collection of visual art, artifacts and printed materials relating to the 19th-century famine that is the historical backdrop for the plays. (Through October; (353) 91-568660; www.druid.ie)
Various Cities, The Netherlands
Ro Theater’s Death of a Salesman: Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Tony-nominated portrayal of Willy Loman made a splash on Broadway this year, with that production’s scenic design, a re-creation of Jo Mielziner’s original 1949 set, also a point of high praise. Meanwhile, across the ocean, a Dutch take on the Miller play (aka Dood van een Handelsreiziger) earned rave notices of its own with a more interpretive design. Scenographer Thomas Rupert has crammed the family into a mini house made of crumpled paper, and an onstage guitarist/singer, recording artist Maartje Teussink, punctuates the action with gospel and Americana tunes.
The production by Rotterdam’s Ro Theater, staged by artistic director Alize Zandwijk, earned its own Willy, Herman Gilis, a nomination for the Dutch equivalent of the best-actor Tony (the Louis d’Or). It also scored a spot in Amsterdam’s Nederlands Theater Festival (Aug. 30–Sept. 9), at which top Dutch performances of the season get an encore. In October and November, Ro’s Salesman continues touring the Netherlands, with stops in Uden, Rijswijk, Maastricht, Assen, Apeldoorn, Heerlen, Oss and Den Helder (plus a brief detour to Hasselt, Belgium), then heads back to Rotterdam and Amsterdam. (Through November; (31) 10-404-68-88; www.rotheater.nl)
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