Kigali, Rwanda, and Wroclaw, Poland
The Monument: Canadian playwright Colleen Wagner’s The Monument has been produced around the world since its 1995 debut at Necessary Angel Theatre in Toronto. The play is about war and genocide in an unspecified setting. (On the occasion of its 2006 staging in Washington, D.C., by Theater Alliance, cast member Jennifer Mendenhall was quoted in the Washington Post saying, “It could be Bosnia, it could be Rwanda, it could be Auschwitz, it could be anywhere that horrible things are done.”) In 2008, the play’s parallels to events in Africa were made explicit in a production by then brand-new ISÔKO Theatre of Kigali, with a cast of four Rwandan performers. The play was translated into Kinyarwanda and directed by ISÔKO founder Jennifer H. Capraru, who is also the artistic director of Toronto’s Theater Asylum. To view excerpts and interviews from the project, visit www.youtube.com/user/IsokoTheatre.
According to its mission statement, ISÔKO was “founded in the spirit of exchange, to celebrate Rwandan artists, and to further global peacebuilding while promoting equality for women and girls.” The company has since debuted a second production, Wajdi Mouawad’s Littoral. Meanwhile, The Monument has continued to tour, including a spring 2011 visit to several cities in Canada. It will play in Wroclaw, Poland, this fall at the Dialog International Theatre Festival. (Oct. 11–13; www.isoko-rwanda.org; dialogfestival.pl)
Various Cities, Europe and Beyond
NXTSTP: Between 2007 and 2012, the NXTSTP network of eight European performing arts festivals, led by Belgium’s Kunstenfestivaldesarts, put its weight into co-producing 36 touring productions from 12 different countries. Collectively, those shows have had more than 1,000 performances within the network and beyond. The first round of the program, supported by a 2.5-million-euro grant from the European Union, came to an end nearly a year ago, but the productions it supported live and tour on. Meanwhile, a new batch is getting another jolt of funding in round two (2012–16).
This month alone there’s a chance to see quite a sampling of projects under the NXTSTP umbrella. You can see German choreographer Antonia Baehr’s portraits of extinct animals, Abecedarium Bestiarium, in Graz, Austria. Belgium’s Kris Verdonck has created a robotic musical-theatre installation inspired by Russian writer Daniil Kharms called H, an incident, on view this month in Graz. Kornél Mundruczó of Budapest’s The Day of My Great Happiness, about mental illness, plays Rotterdam and Berlin. Choreographer/filmmaker Gunilla Heilborn, from Stockholm, is bringing This is not a love story to Budapest. And French artists Halory Goerger and Antoine Defoort create a new world from scratch in Germinal, headed to Rotterdam and Dublin. Next month—while those five works continue to tour in London, Lisbon, Ghent, Nottingham, Leeds and Sofia—NXTSTP pieces by Tiago Rodrigues of Portugal, the French Collective L’Encyclopédie de la Parole and Irish sister act Quarantine will surface in Dublin, Paris and Belfast, respectively, and on it goes.
Though the network is European, the U.S. has gotten in on the act: Maria Hassabi, a Cyprus-born, New York City–based director, choreographer and performance artist, is among the supported artists. Her Premiere, a metatheatrical investigation of exactly what its title indicates, features slow, sculptural dance and extreme lighting design. The piece, also supported by multiple American funders, will get an airing in NYC at the Kitchen’s Performa 13 festival in November before it goes to Brussels for the Kunstenfestivaldesarts next May. (Ongoing; www.nxtstp.eu)
“These American Lives”: Three award-winning American plays about jobs and a docu-theatre piece about the rural U.S.—isn’t that an unusual makeup for a London theatre’s season? Not if you’re the Gate Theatre in Notting Hill, which is explicitly devoted to international work.
In announcing the new season of the British company (not to be confused with Dublin’s famed Gate), artistic director Christopher Haydon noted, “For many people, a job is far more than a way of warding off the bailiffs and filling the hours between nine and five. It becomes an integral part of our identity—driving and shaping our whole life. So at a time when financial meltdown has caused unemployment to soar, it feels right to take a closer look at the answers we give when asked that perennial question: So what do you do?”
This month the Gate wraps up the first of four shows, George Brant’s one-woman script Grounded, starring Lucy Ellinson (for more on that play and playwright, see our story in this issue). Next month, offering a British point of view on a distinctly American slice of culture, two Bristol-based artists, Ella Good and Nicki Kent, will perform Wild Thing I Love You, about their search for Bigfoot.
The season continues in November and December with Ethan Lipton’s No Place to Go, a cabaret-style story about a man who loses his job when his office relocates to Mars (originally directed by Leigh Silverman for Joe’s Pub in New York City); and in January the Gate opens Dan O’Brien’s The Body of an American, about Pulitzer-winning war photographer Paul Watson. (Through Feb. 1; www.gatetheatre.co.uk)