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Global spotlight.

Graz, Austria

STEIRISCHER HERBST: For a festival with the 2007 theme of "Close Enough," Steirischer Herbst seems awfully concerned with exact measurements. Its program stamps each event with a breakdown of its content: For example, Blackmarket for Useful Knowledge and Non-Knowledge No. 8 sifts out to 5 percent service, 12 percent installation, 17 percent performance, 53 percent knowledge and 13 percent socializing. Whatever that means, it involves listening in on conversations about gift-giving with 100 "experts" from the fields of science, media, panhandling, etc., or else paying a euro to start your own dialogue. Young international collective andcompany&Co. achieves a tricky 67/21/12 split between performance, music and communism with Time Republic, an alternate history of the 20th century. Between Bones and Rockets, by Austria's Zwischen Knochen und Rakctcn, is more than half "theatre" and an intriguing 2 percent "shower-risk"; it started out as your average porno but ended up including dogs and a handball team. Italian company Orthographe situates its audience inside a giant camera obscura to achieve a delicate dose of upside-down voyeurism, and a trilogy by Argentine writer/director Lola Arias promises theatre and literature plus a smidgen of melancholy. Only the British/Belgian production That Night Follows Day ("a play for adults, performed by children") weighs in as pure theatre--well, 80 percent. Close enough? (Sept. 20-Oct. 14; (43) 316-823007;


Roznava, Slovakia

TEMPUS ART: The new Czech/French company Decalages hasn't flinched in thrusting its first show into fraught territory: the conflicting desire in romantic relationships to control yet be controlled, to transform and resist, to be together and alone, and so on into madness .... The Obsession, by company founders Seiline Vallee and Salvi Salvatore (formerly of the Continuo Theater), after premiering at two Czech festivals earlier this year, arrives at the third weeklong festival of alternative theatres in eastern Slovakia. Eighteen performances from around the world (including what Slovaks call maringotka, "caravan" theatre, in a tent) coincide with lectures by visiting practitioners. Slovakia's Theatre Jorik presents Money, Partying and Eternal Light, a one-man "generational statement" about down-and-out guys who dream of playboyhood. Venezuela's Teatro San Martin de Caracas gets Kafkaesque with Passport, about a woman who first loses her papers, then her identity, then the ability to communicate. Poland's Okno Theatre brings The Romance of Perlimplin and Belisa, a Lorca-inspired shadow puppetry work about May/December marriage that, as a successful project at the Warsaw Theatre Academy, launched the theatre in 2001. Companies from Belarus, Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia and Macedonia will also perform.(Sept. 9-15; (421) 58-7329623;

KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

THE WITNESS HILTON ARTS FESTIVAL: Hilton College, a boarding school in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands, hosts a showcase of South African writing. Highlights include The Travellers, 2005 winner of the Naledi Theatre Award for cutting edge plays; Gumbo, by a mixed company of deaf and hearing artists; Mouche, in which Tim Redpath brings Paul Gallico's tale Love of Seven Dolls to life; Frogs, "a tender love story told with only three words"; Dr Collinger's Funeral Service, another love story, this one set in a funeral parlor; and Jakob, a highly visual exploration of light and darkness. Also on tap are the widely traveled Australian play Stones and American artist Thom Pasculli with three new works. (Sept. 14-16; theatre@;

Bremen, Germany

INTERNATIONAL YOUTH THEATRE FESTIVAL "EXPLOSIVE!": This is the place for Germans to see the newest generation of actors--so new, in fact, that they are still amateurs, though they perform under the eye of professional directors. The festival privileges "productions developing strategies against social and ethnical discrimination" and those that "envelop the existential questions of adolescence." This year's opening event is the European premiere of Amazonia by Companhia Aplauso, a group from Rio de Janeiro, formed two years ago to bring performance education to children from Brazilian slums. The production breathes life into rainforest legends through music, dance, acrobatics and Capoeira. To create Homestories, a production by Schauspiel Essen of Germany, director Nuran David Calis recruited 20 kids from the town of Essen-Katernberg to write down their ideas about home (which vary widely, as many are immigrants from the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Africa). Meanwhile, seven youths from the festival's hometown, Bremen, collaborated with director Thorsten Wilrodt of theatre studio Schlachthof on k-ENTER-n, about twentysomethings who declare war on global capitalism and the Internet. (Sept. 11-17; (49) 421-3777513;

Isfahan, Iran

ISFAHAN INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL: Mansour Parsai, the general director of the Dramatic Arts Center of Iran, has announced that in cooperation with the International Theatre Institute, his center will sponsor the 14th iteration of this theatre festival for young audiences in Isfahan, featuring new Iranian and international productions. The invited guest performances will be announced by mid-September. (Oct. 28-Nov. 2; (98) 21-66725316;

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada

THE SHAW FESTIVAL: Classic sources nest like Russian dolls in Tristan, the Shaw Festival's first-ever premiere of a work developed under its own auspices. The new musical, which debuted in July under the direction of Eda Holmes, is based on a story by Thomas Mann, which hinges on a Wagner opera, which in turn draws from a masterpiece of medieval German chivalry--and even that tale can be traced back further still to Celtic legend. Music director Paul Sportelli and ensemble member Jay Turvey have been collaborating on the book and score for several years. With encouragement from Shaw artistic director Jackie Maxwell, they allowed their imaginations to wander beyond Mann's original story, but the setting and spirit remain the same: It is 1903 (placing the work snugly within the festival's mandate to focus on Shaw's lifetime) at a luxury spa high in the German Alps. Gabrielle, an invalid taking treatment away from her husband and child, meets a poet seeking a rest cure and solitude. The poet's fervor for language finds its reflection in the frail Gabrielle's unsatisfied love of music, which she has been forbidden by doctors to indulge, lest she overexert herself. Inevitably, the poet encourages Gabrielle to rediscover her inner pianist--he happens to have packed sheet music from Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde, which has a great deal to say about thwarted passion--and opens a potent can of worms. In fact, say Sportelli and Turvey, the very texture of the world around the characters--and, of course, the musical's original score--becomes charged with new feeling once Wagner is in the air. (Thru Oct. 6; (905) 468-2172;


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Title Annotation:international theater and festivals
Author:Estvanik, Nicole
Publication:American Theatre
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2007
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