Hong Kong Arts Festival: U.S. playwright David Henry Hwang’s Chinglish travels to the Hong Kong Arts Festival, with both English and Chinese surtitles—lending metatheatrical depth to its theme of translation. Leigh Silverman, who directed the show’s Broadway-transfer premiere for Chicago’s Goodman Theatre in 2011, remounted this scaled-down version for California’s Berkeley Repertory Theatre and South Coast Repertory. (For more on Chinglish’s bilingual twists and turns, see page 36.)
The National Theatre of China will debut its staging of Li Bihua’s novel Green Snake, a dark twist on a romantic legend. Director Tian Qinxin has adapted the book, enlisting contributions from the National Theatre of Scotland’s designers and Edinburgh-based composer David Paul Jones. After its Hong Kong premiere, the play will tour to Scotland, Shanghai, Beijing and Singapore.
Another intercultural collaboration has yielded Hand Stories, featuring fifth-generation puppeteer Yeung Fai, who has lived in France for the past decade. He and French puppeteer Yoann Pencolé tell the story of his family, including his artist father’s death in the Cultural Revolution, with the help of Taiwanese visual artist Yilan Yeh and Australian composer Colin Offord. (Feb. 21–Mar. 22; +852 2824-3555; www.hk.artsfestival.org)
Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Fife and Norwich, Scotland
Manipulate: This international celebration of “visual theatre” is organized by Puppet Animation Scotland (which also presents the springtime Puppet Animation Festival). The 50-year-old Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh is the main venue, with satellite events in other towns.
The manipulate festival (which promotes itself in lowercase) kicked off in 2008. Artistic director Simon Hart explains that touring Scottish puppet companies, such as Shona Reppe Puppets, Puppet State Theatre Company and Catherine Wheels, are best known globally for their work for children. Manipulate is meant to nurture and promote similarly adventurous work for adult audiences. Hart points out that U.K. theatre is deeply grounded in language, which “may have hampered the development of other, more visually orientated theatrical forms and styles. This visually focused type of theatre comes from a more European tradition. It requires a different mindset,” he notes. “My aim is for manipulate to play an increasing role in encouraging this more experimental, free-form way of working.”
Local talents on display include Physical Theatre Scotland, whose After the Wave, featuring ghostly, life-sized figures interacting with live actors, was created over the course of several years through manipulate’s annual “Snapshots” developmental series. In another native piece, Glasgow-based Vox Motus’s Slick, actors provide the heads and hands for stout, cartoonish puppet bodies, enacting a tale of greed and corruption that stems from the discovery of crude oil in a family toilet.
The festival also provides Scottish artists with plenty of inspiration from abroad, with productions from such companies as Netherlands-based Stuffed Puppet Theatre, Estonia’s Nuku Theatre and the U.S.’s Cloud Eye Control—along with Israel’s Yael Rasooly, who with madcap energy performs Paper Cut, a one-woman tribute to the histrionics of old-time Hollywood. The festival also includes master classes exploring wordless theatre and the dual presence of actors and puppeteers, as well as a film series. (Feb. 2–16; +44 131-560-12-98; www.manipulatefestival.org)
WORLD THEATRE FESTIVAL: The arts center Brisbane Powerhouse opened in a former industrial building in 2000 and reopened with new renovated facilities, including three performance venues and two restaurants, in 2007. Though not lacking in space, its 2013 international theatre festival includes several intimate productions, such as Anglo-Belgian collective Reckless Sleepers sitting down with its audience to The Last Supper, a mélange of deathbed bon mots and final meals.
From Ireland, Pan Pan Theatre stages a modern-day version of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, and HotForTheatre reprises its Dublin Fringe hit, the down-to-earth lesbian love story I Heart Alice Heart I. The U.S./German company Gob Squad will perform its Warhol tribute Kitchen (You’ve Never Had It So Good). And Instant Café Theatre of Malaysia presents Parah, written by 35-year-old Singaporean playwright Alfian bin Sa’at, which explores race relations in Malaysia from the perspective of a group of school friends. Australian companies in attendance include MKA, a two-year-old, new-writing-focused theatre from Melbourne; its play The Economist, which crawls inside the head of a Norwegian mass murderer, was penned by artistic director Tobias Manderson-Galvin.
Alongside the performances, American guru Richard Schechner will be on hand to give a four-day master class on the Rasaboxes acting technique. (Feb. 13–24; +61 7-3358-8600; www.brisbanepowerhouse.org)