Colombo and Batticloa, Sri Lanka
Colombo International Theater Festival: This gathering’s organizer is Inter Act Art Black Box Theater, a 23-year-old multi-ethnic, multi-language and multi-religious collective. To its founders’ best knowledge, they are the first to have brought forum theatre practices to Sri Lanka (with a bilingual Tamil/Sinhala production in 2001) and also their nation’s first black-box theatre.
Inter Act Art is bringing CITF back after its inaugural edition last year, despite difficulty securing financial sponsorship. This year brings new presenting partnerships, however, with the Sri Lankan ministry of higher education and several universities. The 2013 guest performances will hail from such nations as Azerbaijan (Azerbaijani State Theatre of the Young Spectators stages Patrick Süskind’s 1987 one-man play about a tortured musician, The Double Bass); India (The Last Color, about endangered species, by five-year-old company Dhyaas Pune); Austria (Zheng He…when the dragon ships came, about a Chinese explorer, produced with a mix of puppetry and animation by Karin Schäfer Figuren Theater) and Saudi Arabia (Maestro, Saudi Arabia Association for Culture and Arts, Alqassem Branch). (March 27–April 04; +94 773-129-749; www.interactart.wordpress.com)
Turkish State Theatre Sabanci International Adana Theatre Festival: Like its Sri Lankan counterpart above, this event will kick off on World Theatre Day, March 27 (for more on World Theatre Day, see sidebar below). That’s fitting for an event that has steadily increased in geographic scope: What began as a national convening in 1998 went international soon thereafter and, in 2007, gained an even higher profile when Adana State Theatre became a member of the European Theatre Convention (an organization that, incidentally, celebrates 25 years of existence this month at its general assembly in Albania).
Based in Adana, just inland of the Mediterranean coast, the festival has since 2005 also mounted a satellite program in Istanbul. At press time the 2013 program had yet to be announced, but is expected to follow in the footsteps of a diverse 2012 roster of five international productions (from Italy, Belgium, Spain, China and the Netherlands) and 17 Turkish groups ranging from major state theatres to small ensembles. Up-and-coming troupes like Altidan Sonra Theater, 0.2 Theater Ensemble and Ve Diger Seyler Theater Ensemble were included for the first time last year as part of a new focus on young and avant-garde theatremakers that took over Adana State Theatre’s second stage—a focus that will continue in this year’s iteration. Street theatre, meanwhile, will again enliven the paths of the city’s 2,000-year-old Stone Bridge.
(March 27–April 28; +9 322-3523355; www.sabancivakfi.org /page/theater-festival)
Morsø, Skive and Thisted, Denmark
Festival 2013—performing arts for young audiences: Six hundred performances of nearly 200 shows by 100-plus theatre companies will be presented for some 25,000 audience members—mainly the lucky youth of the municipality hosting the festival (it touches down in a new spot each year). All of this happens in the course of one week, with tickets costing not a single kroner. That’s the promise of Denmark’s huge annual children’s theatre festival, which after four decades without a snappy moniker is being rebranded (officially starting next year) as Aprilfestival. (Apparently, the change was spurred by the need for a new URL.) Keep an eye on the festival’s website for the 2013 program, which will be released later this month and will be headquartered this year on the northwestern Danish island of Mors.
(April 14–21; +45-35-30-44-00; www.aprilfestival.dk)
Augenblick mal!: The name of this festival for kids translates to “Wait a Minute!” In fact, young theatre-lovers have had to wait many months for the latest installment of this event, which is put together every two years by the German Centre for Theatre for Children and Young People.
The invited productions this year include Boy with a Suitcase, the result of a three-year collaboration between Mannheim, Germany’s Schnawwl Theater and Ranga Shankara Theatre of Bangalore, India. The bilingual English/German production, written by Britain’s Mike Kenny and directed by Germany’s Andrea Gronemeyer, premiered in both Germany and India in 2011, featuring a cast and crew of both nationalities. Suitcase was also invited by the Goethe-Institut to tour four cities in India during a special yearlong program celebrating 60 years of Indo-German diplomatic relations, Infinite Opportunities, that wrapped up last year. The play concerns a young refugee, Naz, who is fleeing an unnamed country to join his sister in London, accompanied by a street-smart girl he has met on his travels.
Another production at Augenblick Mal!, Liquids by Fundus Theatre of Hamburg, sounds like one of those science museum exhibits that kids leave messy and happy—seating them around a basin of bubbling substance and inviting their interaction.
And Sister, aimed by Theater Marabu of Bonn at ages six and up, was penned by a figure who at first glance may seem out of place at a children’s event: famously abstract Norwegian playwright Jon Fosse, whose 2010 citation for the International Ibsen Award dubbed him a “poet of the unknown.” Yet who dwells more deeply with the unknown than children? Fosse’s simple story follows a pajama-clad child slipping from his house to explore the natural world that surrounds it. The adventure gives his parents a scare, but he can’t wait to share his discoveries with his little sister. (April 23–28; +49 (69) 296661; www.augenblickmal.de)