Author: Taylor, Nicole Estvanik
Date published: March 1, 2012
INTERNATIONAL CROSSROADS FESTIVAL: After a successful first year, this visual-theatre celebration is enjoying an expanded (from 4 to 7 days) second act in 2012. Among the highlights are Spanish dancer Marta Carrasco, who performs No Se' Si (/ Don't Know If...) with an unlikely "twin sister," the fleshy and outstandingly hirsute Alberto Velasco. There is something of the grotesque as well in Head On, performed solo by Brazilian-born Maria Clara Villa Lobos while wearing a crude, doughy smiley-face as a mask. Blending her background in classical ballet, modern dance and yoga with her interest in American visual artist Paul McCarthy, she is transformed into a sort of hapless child's drawing come to life.
Villa Lobos isn't the only group on the program to use other artists' work as a jumping-off point. The Czech dieatre group Krepsko riffed on Tennessee Williams's Glass Menagerie to create Fragile, a nonverbal meditation on solitude. Greek company Plefsis credits Borges as inspiration for the highly choreographed gestures and carefully selected objects of The Blue Line, an allegory on die search for life's meaning. And Italy's Zaches Teatro took its visual cues for Mal Bianco from Japanese artist Hokusai, who published a book of 4,000 nature-inspired and fantastical sketches in 1814.
On Thursday, March 22, a special program-within-theprogram will focus on mime and visual theatre artists from Belgium and die Nemerlands. The organizers of this showcase, Sylvie Huysman and Esther Severi (the latter will take over from founder Marc Crouwels next year as artistic director of Crossroads), emphasize that their selections prioritize experiment over tradition and represent the ways in which Dutch and Belgian artists are advancing these genres. (March 19-25; (32) 3-235-2330; http://crossroadsfestival.eu)
AMID THE CLOUDS: Written in 2004 by Iranian writer/director/filmmaker Amir Reza Koohestani during a residency at London's Royal Court Theatre, this play - performed by Mehr Theatre Group - premiered at the Kunstenfestivaldesarts in Belgium in 2005, played in Tehran later diat year and toured Europe extensively until 2008; this month it will be revived for a brief run at Greece's Onassis Cultural Center. The play depicts die growing bond between two Iranian refugees smuggling themselves through the Balkans - one of whom, a pregnant woman, is determined to have her child in England. European reviewers praised die disjointed, poetic telling of a story diat draws as much from dreams and myths as it does from documentary journalism; echoes of a past tragedy, in which asylum-seekers perished in a water crossing, recur as the actors immerse themselves in cubic tanks of water. Two other plays by Koohestani's company, which currently operates out of Paris, are on its schedule for 2012: a new adaptation of Chekhov's Ivanov, which premiered last year in Tehran, will tour Europe; and Where Were You on January 8th?, seen in Europe in 2009, is tentatively planned for a run in Tunisia. (March 15-18; (33) 6-22-37-36-81; www.menrtheatregroup.com)
FESTIVAL LES VAGAMONDES: Théâtre de l'Agora hosts this encounter between Western nations and the South Mediterranean. The diird edition features four performances. La Borgnes (The Blind) is the theatrical headliner: Written by Mustapha Benfodil and directed by Kheireddine Lard jam, it reflects on Algerian independence through the allegory of a man with an odd disorder - depending whether he uses his right eye or his left, he has an entirely different view of the world. (Benfodil, a visual artist as well as a writer, last year told Artinfo.com, "Pm a victim of censorship in Algeria, but it is an indirect form of censorship. My play Les Borgnes and others of my works can't be performed in theatres. I read my texts in public places, sometimes on my own, sometimes with the help of actors.") Authences who attend Je danse et je vom en donne à bouffer (I Dance and I Feed You) will be treated to couscous prepared by Tunisian dancer Radhouane El Meddeb during a performance inspired by the unceasing kitchen activities of his female relatives. Another dance piece, Nya, choreographed by Abou Lagraa and titled after the Arabic phrase "to trust Ufe," explores FrenchAlgerian connections tfirough two musical pieces, Ravel's Bolero and the songs of Houria Aïchi. And Manoukian, mes rêves d'orient pairs French jazz musician André Manoukian with artists from Afghanistan, Albania, Iran and elsewhere as he seeks to rediscover his own family's Armenian roots. (March 17-24; (33) 1-60-91-65-65; www.fneatrea90rfl.com)