Organized by Shanghai Federation of Literary and Art Circles & SMEG Performing Arts Group, presented by Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre, the ACT Shanghai International Theater Festival 2017 (ACT 2017) will kick off next Thursday. For the following month, a total of 10 avant-garde contemporary plays from home and abroad will be staged.
Since its foundation in 2005, the annual ACT has not only become the forefront of the avant-garde drama, but also a platform to promote the exchange among international excellent contemporary dramas.
With the theme of Limitless, ACT 2017 aims to break the shackles of traditional theater, integrate theaters into the community and other unconventional spaces and create an opportunity for the general public to participate in theater culture.
A highlight of this year’s ACT is the unit of Caravan Showcase. Co-produced by Farnham Maltings and ACT with an investment from the Arts Council England and British Council, Caravan is designed to better connect artists and companies based in England with partners from around the world.
In Good Hands is a two-person interactive musical performed in a working salon. It is inspired by the world of hairdressers; secrets, trust and the human need to connect. Over the course of 60 minutes – the time it takes for a wash, cut and blow dry – the small dramas of this rural Irish village unfold.
Through original songs and playful storytelling in a familiar and ordinary setting, In Good Hands celebrates the ritual of hairdressing, everyday intimacy and the things that connect us.
Created in collaboration with local school children, Lookout is a one-toone encounter between one adult audience member and one child performer taking place somewhere overlooking the city. Together, performer
and audience members look out at the city and imagine its future.
The conversation they share is a quiet journey through the past, present and future guided by the streets and landmarks laid out before them. Developed through a series of workshops with local children, each new version of the piece is unique to the city it is created in and the people who call that place home.
Other dramas at the event aim to explore various forms of performance, as in today’s performing art world it is becoming increasingly difficult to divide the boundaries between dance and drama with the more extensive concepts of “performance”.
Perle is a poignant and comic show told by one performer and his television through a bold mixture of cartoon and live action. Based on one of the oldest poems in English, it tells the story of a young father coming to terms with loss. This new version re-imagines the classic text as a live comic book using animation, mime and an original electronic soundtrack.
Of Riders and Running Horses is a dance event which takes the raw ingredients of a folk event (public space, the night, live-music and ritual) and imbues it with modern, progressive sensibilities and choreographic vocabulary. The movement material draws inspiration from current styles that
could be considered a kind of modern folk dance: jump-style, free step and house dancing among others.
Interaction with artists
Komplizen from Switzerland is an investigative exploration of what defines communities of people with a shared goal. The community is created and mixed together through elements of slapstick, silent movies and a celebration of breakdown. It empowers the audience to start their own gang and invites them to search for their own accomplices.
Hopera is a dreamlike choreography to let hip-hop meet with classic music. Sprinkled with gestural plots, nonsense and a touch of madness, the arias by Verdi, Leoncavallo, Rossini, Handel and Mozart are re-interpreted in the dance piece with a new perspective that is filled with subtle humor and youthful vigor. Tradition and innovation are knitted nicely together and make this work appealing to audience both young and old.
Documentary theater About My Parents and Their Child explores the relationship between parents and children in China, its dynamics, tensions, mutual expectations using interviews made in five cities across China with young people (aging 2138) and their parents.
There will also be after-show talks, workshops and forums beyond the stage, where audiences can have a more intimate interaction with the artists. At the work shop of Condanced Histories, for example, each participant will try the different styles of dance under the guidance of the artist.
The workshop is rich in knowledge, simple and full of pleasure, helping everyone to feel the differences between early modern dance and contemporary dance from folk to ballet.
Stage pictures of Perle (top) and Of Riders and Running Horses