Stag­ing avant-garde

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

Chore­o­graphic vo­cab­u­lary

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.

Pho­tos: Cour­tesy of Shang­hai Dra­matic Arts Cen­tre

Stage pic­tures of Perle (top) and Of Rid­ers and Run­ning Horses

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