Editor's Note: This fantastic article was written by Zenobia Frost and Tahnee Robinson, formally of Rave Magazine and Offstreet Press who join TheatrePeople.com.au QLD in 2014 to help with the World Theatre Festival and many other things! – Brent
World Theatre Festival preview
The Powerhouse’s Turbine Platform is already crowded enough to require ninja-esque manoeuvring to reach the wine and nibbles. Everyone seems to know someone; the launch of World Theatre Festival 2014 — a costume party, this year — is a social event as much as a celebration of theatre-to-come.
WTF’s artistic director, Kris Stewart, emerges into the wisps of dry ice left over from band The Sunburys’ opening performance. It’s easy to dismiss this festival as just a way for Brisbanites to see international theatre, he says, but it’s more than that: “Brisbane is an international city and we need to stop and celebrate that — the diversity of our theatre practice.”
“It’s time to disabuse people of the notion of the tyranny of distance,” Stewart says; “WTF14 has one foot in New Farm and one foot in New York.”
Now to the program: Pan Pan Theatre returns from Ireland with an immersive interpretation of a radio play by Samuel Beckett, All that Falls. With an ‘F’ Productions and Verdant Productions, also from Ireland, bring us Solphadeine Is My Boyfriend — “a bit Trainspotting, a bit Douglas Coupland,” says Stewart.
Colman Domingo (USA) marks his Australian premiere of his RnB-theatre solo work, A Boy and His Soul. Experimenting with a very different score, Dancenorth (Scotland) and Opera Queensland interpret the work of Handel through dance and theatre.
Gudirr Gudirr (the Yawuru word for the wader bird that warns when the tides change) is a major dance and storytelling work from Marrugeku (Australia/Belgium). Arriving fresh from a season in London, it incorporates Malay martial arts, video and spoken word.
A crowd favourite of 2012’s Brisbane Festival, 지하 (JiHa) Underground rebuilds its Korean speakeasy at Brisbane Powerhouse. Have a drink with the bar’s staff as they sing and dance a tale of love and adventure that transcends language, culture and gender.
After tours of Indonesia, Peru and Melbourne, Snuff Puppets (Australia/Indonesia) retells old myths with giant puppets and an 8ft-tall volcano in Wedhus Gembel.
Multinesia Productions (NZ) explores what it means to be gay in the hypermasculine culture of New Zealand’s Pacific Islands in Black Faggot. This two-man comedy took out Melbourne Fringe Festival’s Innovation in Theatre Award in 2013.
Then there’s the circus menu — something Brisbane serves up best. Il Pixel Rosso (UK) immerses two-person audiences in the thrills of being a trapeze artist, exploring the mysterious disappearance of The Great Spavaldos Brothers. Clarke MacFarlane (USA), still sweaty from La Soiree (Brisbane Festival), curates late-night circus reviews featuring aerials, comedy, leather and more from local and international stars and starlets in Mario: Queen of the Circus Presents His Crown Jewels.
Commissioned for the festival, She Would Walk the Sky (Company 2) employs the aerial talents of Chelsea McGuffin (Cantina) in a performance designed to celebrate the Powerhouse space and Brisbane as a circus city. (Here here!)
The evening closes with a trapeze performance by McGuffin’s Cantina and She Would Walk the Sky colleague, Moses, whose feats of strength see him hanging by only his head above the held breaths and star-struck eyes of those below.
WORLD THEATRE FESTIVAL runs from 13–23 February 2013.
Tahnee Robinson served as OffStreet Press’s visual arts, film and fashion editor in 2012.
Zenobia Frost is a Brisbane-based poet and critic.