International Theatre Festival returns with puppets, masks and a giant igloo
By Leigh Hile
For theater lovers, Christmas comes late in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The tree may be taken down, the holiday lights packed up, the eggnog and figgy pudding set aside for another year, but when the Revolutions International Theater Festival rolls into town every January, it feels like Santa has come all over again. Only this time, he’s brought inimitable theatrical experiences from countries as far away and diverse as Poland, Mexico, Switzerland, Australia, Italy and more.
Tricklock Company—that consistently innovative staple of Albuquerque theater—has been bringing us the Revolutions festival for thirteen years. This year, in addition to a number of special events, parties and one-night-only performances, the festival will see nine different main-stage productions over eight different venues, from seven countries around the globe, and storytelling experiments in space, movement, sound, clowning, masks, song and dance, puppetry and shadow making.
One of the biggest shows this year comes by way of Denmark. Entitled “‘79Fjord,” the show tells the story of explorers on the coast of Greenland. “So the entire audience sits in this giant igloo,” says Kevin Elder, co-artistic director of Tricklock Company. “It’s incredible, I’ve never seen anything like it... it’s just this massive, massive spectacle.”
“‘79Fjord,” he predicts, will be the hot ticket to this year’s festival. “Because it’s all in this igloo, it only seats a hundred people … of the thousands of people who come to festival, only 300 people we get to see that show.”
Elder is one of three Tricklock members who discovered and selected the productions that will be seen at the 2013 festival, and while he insists that trying to pick a favorite show is even harder than trying to pick a favorite child, he, Juli Hendren and Elsa Menendez—his conspirators in curation—have shows that they’re particularly excited to see at the festival this year.
In addition to “‘79Fjord,” Elder is especially happy to bring “Sensucht” to the festival, a play whose German title has no English translation—the closest we can come is “longing.” Presented by Perpetuo Mobile Teatro, a company based in Italy and Switzerland, “Sensucht” tells the story of two lovers. “It’s a story that we all know—of two people coming together, and then hardships and then breaking apart,” says Elder, “but it’s told with these really incredible images and devices and spinning wheels and masks.”
Adding even more to the excitement of seeing “Sensucht” at this year’s festival is the bitter disappointment of having lost the show last year. “We had plane tickets for them—we had everything. And just one of their people, we just couldn’t get the visa for in time,” says Elder. “They were really our big show [last year].” Seeing plans fall through was a letdown for the organizers and the audience, but the silver lining is that as a result this year has several “big shows.”
As for Elder’s co-organizers, Menendez and Hendren, the two are, respectively, most looking forward to “Guerra,” a clown-play about the horrors of war by Mexican theatre troupe Piara, and “Artistic Handicraft,” a puppet show (of sorts) for all ages by Teatr Figur Krakow of Poland.
“It’s this lovely little story that’s told all through arm gestures,” says Elder of “Artistic Handicraft.” “There’s five actors, they’re all in black … and they all wear white gloves up to their elbows. All the figures they create are through the white gloves.
“In terms of theater magic that Albuquerque has never seen, that is one of the shows that I think people don’t want to miss.”
Tricklock Company has a history with Teatr Figur Krakow that extends beyond the festival: During a tour to Krakow in 2011, a few Tricklock members were able to workshop with the company and learn their signature shadow-making techniques. These techniques were brought home and later applied to Tricklock’s own original show “Finger Mouth” which will also be playing at the festival this year. This kind of artistic exchange is at the heart of the Revolutions Theater Festival.
“You know we like to think of Revolutions as a sort of … celebration of community, of togetherness, of cultural exchange,” says Elder, “People have the opportunity to meet the artists, and break bread with them.”
The festival officially starts with the Kick-off Party on January 15th at ArtBar, a new space dedicated to supporting the arts, opening soon downtown. The party will feature local music and local libations, and during the first “VIP hour” from 7:00-8:30, a sneak preview of some of the upcoming performances.
More information on these and all the shows at Revolutions is available on the Tricklock Company website—as well as the opportunity to purchase single tickets and festival “passports.” The festival lasts for three weeks and once it’s gone, it’s gone.
“Most of these shows, Albuquerque is the one stop on their tour. They had no plans on coming here, and may never come back to the U.S. again. You have three shows to see them—and that’s it.”
Revolutions International Theatre Festival
January 15-February 2, 2013
Complete schedule available online
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