Out the Box Festival announces 2011 line-up

The annual Out the Box Festival of Puppetry and Visual Performance has announced the 2011 line up from 3 to 11 September.

UNIMA South Africa’s annual Out the Box Festival of Puppetry and Visual Performance is a 9-day multidisciplinary event celebrating innovation, diversity and sustainability. Directed by Yvette Hardie, the festival provides a platform for performing and visual artists to collaborate, to push boundaries and to blur the lines of their disciplines in order to create provocative and ground-breaking work. This 6th edition of Out the Box promises to be the largest festival of puppetry and visual theatre in Africa, and will attract artists from all over the world. The Handspring Awards (launched 2010) adds significant prestige and appeal for both local and international artists striving for excellence. 1. The Adult Theatre Festival This boasts cutting-edge artists from Switzerland, Germany, Italy, the USA and the UK, amongst others. Puppetry, dance, music multi-media, site-specific work, objects and live performers come together in beautifully evocative, wildly entertaining and highly thought-provoking experiences. Clever, enigmatic and gently self-mocking, La Ribot’s Paradistinguidas sees five professional dancers share the stage with twenty local extras. Uta Gebert brings Anubis which uses bunraku puppetry to draw the audience into an extravagant scenography and atmospheric sound world as souls are led to the underworld. Scarlattine Teatro explodes onto the local scene with The Day Before the World Began, which depicts our desire to design the world the way we want it through bodies interacting with video imagery that creates a constantly changing backdrop to the theatrical action. Another artist to blend the real and the unreal is Miwa Matreyek, who recently presented her work on TED. Semihemisphere is an exquisite live work integrating animation, performance, and video installation in gorgeous, meditative images. Local productions include 2011 Standard Bank Young Artist Award Winner, Neil Coppen’s Abnormal loads, which headlines the main programme at this year’s Grahamstown festival. Set in a fictional Northern KwaZulu-Natal battlefield town, the play has been described as a whimsical (at times bloody) praise-poem to the province of KZN and its myriad of characters and cultures. Other Cape Town premieres are Dark Laugh’s award-winning Butcher Brothers and FTH:K’s new work Benchmarks, a poetic celebration of the human spirit. Conspiracy of Clowns brings the dark, funny, irreverent Kardiavale, described as a Cabaret Klown Noir piece. Contemporary dance and interactive digital media converge in Athena Mazarakis’ Elev(i)ate. Ubom! brings their innovative, physical theatre Door, directed by Jori Snell. Handspring’s beautifully meditative and poignant Ouroboros will “take audiences on a fantastical trip outside of time and place”. There is also a range of exciting, cutting edge site-specific work from the Paper Body Collective (Plot 99), Penelope Youngleson (Kismet), Mwenya Kabwe (Scaffold) and Luma Lab (The Calling). 2. Out the Box Family and Schools Festival. Through a partnership with Assitej South Africa, the international association for theatre for children and young people, children of all ages and backgrounds are exposed to new ideas, provocative theatre and mind-opening experiences in the Out the Box Family and Schools festival. International productions this year include Scarlattine Teatro’s Manolibera, a “seriously clever piece of fun”, that successfully crosses the generational divide. El Retablo (Spain)’s Animals, is a magical, charming piece for young children, celebrating all the senses and turning everyday objects into hand-puppets. La Caravana’s Vecinas (Neighbours) plays with lively physical theatre and clowning techniques to show two neighbours separated by a wall, and bound by curiosity about one other. Libellule’s Just a Bit of Paper is an interactive show specifically developed for 3-5 years to enjoy with their teachers or families. Omar Alvarez Titerez (Argentina) brings The Sand Boy, a moving tale of loneliness and innocence, hailed as the most beautiful children’s puppetry in Argentina. Krinkl Theatre’s Suitcase (Australia) brings home the capacity of people to survive poverty and misfortune through the story of a paper clad homeless family and the little boy puppet who uses his imagination to overcome the challenges of his surroundings. Local productions include Hearts and Eyes Theatre Collective’s beautiful retelling of Sadako, one of the main productions on the National Arts Festival this year. Other productions are FreeVoice production’s moving adaptation of The Ogreling and Boschwacked Productions’ ever-popular Hats, embracing the clown in each of us. There is also plenty to keep the teenagers engaged with the hilarious Nic Danger and the Rise of the Space Ninjas, and Francesco Nassimbeni’s vampire-driven, suspenseful and uber-cool, Clan. 3. “Arts for a Sustainable Earth” Platform In 2011 Out the Box is going green and we are working with a number of artists and key stakeholders including COPART and GREENPOP, to raise awareness around climate change and inspire new behaviours for sustainable living. The “Arts for a Sustainable Earth” Platform features plays that inspire us to think differently about our relationship with the planet and with one another, as well as workshops, dialogues and exchanges to heighten awareness and shift perceptions. This platform will be situated in Observatory at Magnet Theatre and Theatre Arts Admin Collective, as well as at various sites around the vibey suburb. The productions featured span every nuance from the craftily educational to the wildly enigmatic. The Kenyan Institute of Puppet Theatre offers The Last Man Standing, a tale of a brave wildebeest encountering the worlds of the living and the dead. Jori Snell’s extraordinary and deeply evocative Inua, a hit of Out the Box 2010, returns on this platform. Leila Anderson brings a site-specific work, O Happy Living Things! intended for adult audiences and exploring how multimedia collides with organic materials, living and dead. Well Worn Theatre Company, headed up by Kyla Davis, twice named as an M&G Top 200 Young South African, brings two productions, Planet B, directed by Helen Iskander, and The Pollution Revolution which was been touring extensively to schools in Gauteng. For the younger audiences, Jungle Theatre Company brings their special kind of interactive magic with The Whale Show, while KZN-based Arley’s Workshop will surprise and energise its audiences with the infectious, outrageous The Green Revolution. 4. Moving Things Film Festival This showcases some of the best puppetry and stop frame films, while providing a platform for new artists in the field of stop frame animation, using puppetry or 3-dimensional objects in creative new media projects. This year’s festival will again showcase two collections of short films, curated by Heather Henson, daughter of Jim Henson of the Muppets. The latest in the cutting-edge political satire, za news, will be presented, as well as an innovative offering of films from South African and international film-makers. These include The Emotional Life of Inanimate Objects by Janie Geiser, a Calarts lecturer, a documentary Rehearsal for a SicilianTragedy by Roman Pasca featuring John Turturro, and a Handspring Celebration, which will include their TED talk, a recently completed documentary film called The Making of War Horses, as well as the original Making War Horse documentary. 5. Thinking Out the Box’ Conference programme The festival continues to engage with academics, researchers and artists in a one day ‘Thinking Out the Box’ Conference programme, aimed at promoting creativity, innovation and collaboration. Respected South African academic and artist, Jane Taylor, curates the diverse programme, which features Mozambican mask performers, medical puppetry and Handspring Puppet company who presented for TED earlier this year. 6. Active Puppets Mentorship programme Underdeveloped artists also have an opportunity to participate in the Festival through UNIMA’s Active Puppets Mentorship programme, run by Cindy Mkaza. New community groups are selected each year, and participating mentees from the previous year are able to showcase their work in a professional environment. Isibane’s Inja ka Vuyo explores reactions to HIV-AIDS, through innovative puppetry and storytelling. SPONSORS 2011 Confirmed sponsors for 2011 include The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF), The Nussbaum Foundation, Artists Project Earth (APE), Arts and Culture Trust (ACT), Cape Tercentenary Foundation, The Learning Trust, Standard Bank, Pro Helvetia, Goethe Institute, Royal Netherlands Embassy, Embassy of Belgium — Delegation of the Flemish Government, and the British Council. In-kind sponsors and partners include Copart, Greenpop, Fire & Ice Protea Hotel, 15 on Orange, G&D Live, Go2 Productions, Coffee Beans Routes, Observatory Community Association (OCA) and Observatory Improvement District (OBSID). UNIMA SA is sponsored by the Department of Culture, Arts and Sports (DCAS) and some of this sponsorship contributes to the participation of the ACTIVE programme in the festival. We are also developing strong relationships with Cape Town Tourism and the City of Cape Town to build the brand of the festival into the future, and with The Learning Trust, to support the development and employability of young artists. The Out the Box Festival of Puppetry & Visual Performance runs from 3 to 11 September 2011. Booking opens 31 July at Computicket, www.computicket.com or via 0861 9158000.