puppet power and youth pull

international theatre festivals in australia in 2008

Surprise (Überraschung), part of ASSITEJ

Surprise (Überraschung), part of ASSITEJ

Surprise (Überraschung), part of ASSITEJ

UNIMA 2008 AND ASSISTEJ 2008 ARE INTERNATIONAL PERFORMANCE EVENTS BEING HELD IN AUSTRALIA IN COMING MONTHS. THE 20TH UNIMA CONGRESS & WORLD PUPPETRY FESTIVAL WILL TAKE PLACE IN PERTH AND ASSITEJ (INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF THEATRE FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE) IN ADELAIDE.

While UNIMA caters to audiences young and old, ASSITEJ is focused on theatre for young people. For the RealTime readers of tomorrow with a taste for the new in performance both are events that look set to satisfy a deep-seated need for magic, adventure and innovation.

unima

UNIMA’s program of some 30 works includes South African William Kentridge’s remarkable blend of puppetry and charcoal drawn animation in Handspring Puppet Company’s Woyzeck on the Highveld; and Angel, from the Netherlands’ Duda Paiva, an innovative merging of dance and puppetry in a duet between an angel and a drunk. On the food front, Australia’s Men of Steel make wonderfully messy magic with cooking utensils; France’s Compagnie Akselere transforms a restaurant setting into the tale of Sleeping Beauty with, among other things, puppeteered forks; and Belgium’s La Compagnie des Chemins de Terre presents [Richard], in which “Romeo & Juliet is played by the puppeteer’s clothes, Hamlet takes the form of ripped paper and Richard the Third is re-enacted with a slab of meat.” Polyglot Puppet Theatre has collaborated with Ilbijerri Aboriginal Theatre Co-op on Headhunter, a wild, funny ‘road movie’ of a show. For shoe fetishists, Spareparts and the WA Museum have created The Mary Surefoot Shoe Collection which involves investing shoes with interesting new lives of their own. And for other proclivities there’s the sexy, strictly adults only Cabaret Decadanse by Canada’s Soma International.

Sleeping Beauty, part of UNIMA

Sleeping Beauty, part of UNIMA

Sleeping Beauty, part of UNIMA

There are works from Australia’s Black Hole, Lemony S, Spare Parts, Richard Bradshaw, Barking Gecko, Terrapin, The Indirect Object (emerging artists from the VCA’s puppetry course), and shows from the Czech Republic, Denmark and Japan, as well as exhibitions and conferences. UNIMA 2008 looks a perfect introduction to and confirmation of the great power of puppetry in its many surprising new manifestations.

assitej

ASSITEJ ranges across theatrical forms, embracing spoken word, multmedia, dance, music, large-scale and miniature puppetry and physical theatre. From Australia there’s Snuff Puppets’ scary but funny Dream Time show, Nyet Nyet’s Picnic, created with Indigenous artists; and Christine Johnson’s Fluff, a wonderfully eccentric tale, musically and theatrically, about finding homes for lost toys. Adelaide’s Windmill Performing Arts is offering two works, Cat and The Green Sheep, the latter inspired by Judy Horacek illustrations. Perth’s Buzz Dance Theatre’s Cinderella Dressed In Yella cross-costumes boys as the fairytale heroine in a work based on playground games. Also on the program are works by Patch Theatre, Arena Theatre, Urban Myth Theatre of Youth, Polyglot, Ilbijerri, Men of Steel, Uncle Semolina (& friends), Kage, Real TV and Krinkl Theatre. There are companies from Sweden, Israel (The Arab-Hebrew Theater Of Jaffa), Japan, Denmark, Korea, USA, New Zealand, Germany, Thailand. Australia’s provocative Zeal Theatre has collaborated with South Africa’s Bheki on a play about boys triggering a political storm at an international sporting event. Surprise, dance theatre from Austria’s Dschungel Wein, looks one of the most intriguing shows on the program. It’s for audiences two years and up and asks: How do surprises actually sound? Do several surprises make a melody? We’ll have more on ASSITEJ in RealTime 84. RT

20th UNIMA Congress & World Puppetry Festival, an initiative of Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, Perth, April 2-12, www.unima2008.com; 16th ASSITEJ 2008, World Congress and Performing Arts Festival, Adelaide, May 9-18
www.assitej.com.au

Terrapin Puppet Theatre’s Explosion Therapy is part of the 2008 UNIMA program. See the review on page 38.

RealTime issue #83 Feb-March 2008 pg. 56

© RealTime ; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 February 2008