MY TOP FIVE SHOUT OUTS FOR FESTIVAL SHOWS IN 2017
No complaints about being on the road checking out theatre and artists for my theatre. I’ve gone to more than a few festivals this year and there were some pretty evocative pieces being presented out in the world. They deserve a shout out for their craft, their soul and, their heart.
The theatre experience is a very personal one, and a work can hit me in a very different way than the stranger next to me. These pieces were unexpectedly cathartic and I will be forever grateful for them affecting me in such a wonderfully profound way. They brought me joy, delight, sadness, fear and always hope.
I’ll start with number five.
5. A SOLO DOCUMENTARY SHOW THAT TOYS WITH FICTION
TIJUANA by Largatijas Tiradas Al Sol performed at the Noorderzon Festival in Groningen, Holland.
The piece was positioned as a documentary that followed an actor posing as working class stiff moving to Tijuana and working for minimum wage. Could he do it? Was he scared of being recognized or discovered? How much sacrifice did he have to make? The story is harrowing. And, in the end, you never really find out if this was true or if it was a fiction. Was this a company member playing an actor doing a documentary, or was this a true story? It’s ingenious and Los Angeles audiences will be able to see it in January at the Skirball Center presented by REDCAT. https://www.redcat.org/festival/lagartijas
4. AN AMERICAN STORY IN POLISH
THE SECRET LIFE OF THE FREIDMAN’S produced by Ludowy Theatre/ presented at The Divine Comedy Festival in Krakow, Poland.
The play is based on the documentary film by the same name that explores the accusation and eventual conviction of Arnold Freidman and his son, Jesse, who were accused of molesting nearly 17 young school children, mostly boys during a computer class over the course of time in their home in an affluent neighborhood in Great Neck, New York. Again, at the end of the piece, you have no idea if this father and son were actually innocent or guilty. The audience travels to nearly 10 different locations within a three story building as the story unfolds. Each location is carefully designed to set it in a bedroom, a living area, a courtroom, a classroom, a jail cell, a police station, etc. You are never more than six feet away from the actors. It is riveting and the art direction is quite effective.
3. A PLAY ABOUT THE DISSILLUSIONMENT OF A REVOLUTION
10 MILLIONES performed by Cuba’s Argos Teatro, and presented at El Encuentro, a Festival of Latin American work at The Los Angeles Theatre Center.
This autobiographical story, is told through the point of view of a boy who is stuck in the middle of his warring parents who separate right after the Cuban revolution. The mother sides with Fidel, the father does not. The piece is about disillusionment, abandonment, the loss of love and country. I sobbed after it was over. It’s about all of us who have believed in a social movement, dedicated our lives to it only to feel betrayed and abandoned by its very ideals, and in the end maybe we betray ourselves. I cried in the arms of a stranger, a Cuban exile. We found at that moment much common ground.
2. A TOTAL SUBMERSIVE 30 MINUTE THEATRICAL EXPERIENCE
THE WAKING OF LA LLORONA by Optika Moderna/David Israel Reynosa presented by La Jolla Playhouse for THE WOW FESTIVAL.
Clocking in at only 30 minutes, this “individual multi-sensory experience” takes you through five plus locations within an old factory. Each location has us meet up with characters who have lost a child. Art directed within an inch of its life, there were moments I was not sure what to expect. It was like walking through a horror move. But I trusted curator Meiyin Wang to keep me safe. Kudos go to her on her first venture as curator of this festival. It was a smashing success.
1. A THEATRE PIECE MADE BY FILMAKERS
COLD BLOOD by Jaco Van Dormael and Michele Anne De Mey at Noorderzon Festival, Groningen, Holland
This was a series of vignettes on love. It was in Flemish so I didn’t understand a word and yet it delighted me to no end. I laughed and was surprised at the loveliness and delicacy of the piece. I sat there wishing every audience member at my theatre could see this work and be re-inspired about the wonders of the theatre. The manipulation of hands to look like human beings as they romped around miniature sets that were filmed and then projected on a big screen left me awestruck. The cast was huge which made it nearly impossible to bring to the US but in my dreams I’ll one day have the budget to bring something like this to the USA for all to be entertained with light and joy.