aactWorldFest Returns to Venice Theatre This Month
Ever-shifting issues dealing with world politics, visas and Covid precautions have made scheduling this month’s aactWorldFest at Venice Theatre a bigger challenge than usual. (VT has hosted the biennial international community theater festival several times since 2010; it had to be canceled two years ago as the pandemic raged.)
When we spoke with Murray Chase, VT’s producing executive director, he had just gotten off the phone with a theater troupe based in Bangladesh still hoping to perform at the festival during its run June 20-26. But the complications of paperwork related to world travel have made scheduling a more last-minute endeavor than ever.
“We have another troupe, from the Central African Republic, that wants to come and would be a great addition to the festival,” says Chase. “But the CAR isn’t issuing performance visas, so they have to go to Cameroon to get them—and were told their first chance for an appointment would be in mid-July”—after the festival is over. “Now they have a new appointment June 13, so we won’t know until the week before” if they can make it.
In the meantime, the WorldFest will welcome 13 theater troupes, presenting a total of 14 different shows, from 11 countries. As always, the festival works to prove that language is no barrier, as the troupes mix music, puppetry, clowning and video projections to tell stories with universal appeal.
In the lineup as of now:
From Armenia, the Yerevan State Puppet Theatre will return, with two shows. The Wolf is an Armenian fairy tale brought to life through puppets, shadows, lighting and more; The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime is an adaptation of the popular British novel translated to Armenian with the permission of author Mark Haddon.
From Brazil, award-winning puppeteer and musician Caio Stolai brings a repeat performance of Circo Poeira (Dust Circus). The one-man show featuring an old circus master telling his memories of days gone by was a hit in the 2010 festival.
France’s Nez Nets et Cie performs, through a mix of gibberish and French clowning, La Vie Revee de Nous (Life Dreams of Us). Germany’s The Wild Bunch returns from Berlin with Der Kinoerzähler (“the movie teller”), with three actors, one saxophonist and one drummer relating the story of a grandfather defending himself from being dispensable.
Italy’s Teatro delle Ombre presents Clan MacBeth, a surreal production based on the Shakespeare classic, focusing on the Scottish general and his lady, but also adding a new, spooky Joker character. Also from Italy: the Maner Manush Troupe, presenting the commedia dell’arte production The Fabulous Journey.
Poland’s Zapadnia Theatre returns to the fest with Symbiosis, inspired by the novel The Piano Teacher, and it’s expected to be visually stunning. Switzerland’s Theatre Beloe presents a show titled Passion, and the United Kingdom sends back the Scrambled Egg Theatre Company with a rendition of the comedy A Man of No Importance, employing timing, music and sound effects to enter into the world of the spy. The USA will be represented by Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop, a fictional depiction of Martin Luther King Jr.’s last night on earth enacted by the Lexington Players from New England.
Ukraine’s Splash Theatre Company will present a virtual showing of its Stolen Happiness, featuring songs, dances and costumes from Ukrainian folklore. Chase says the company has managed to escape war-torn Ukraine to Slovakia, but will unfortunately still not be able to perform here in person.
And, BTW, that troupe from Bangladesh, Loco Natyadal, will be on the schedule, performing a Bengali classic drama from Hindu mythology entitled Tapaswi-O-Trangini.
Chase also adds that the festival will include educational workshops and opportunities for socializing during the run, while being mindful of Covid precautions and making scheduling a little less crowded than in the past. While VT has not been requiring patrons to wear masks for the past few weeks, the theater will continue to monitor the rising case rate before the festival begins to see if masks might be reinstated.
There are several registration packages available for audiences; for complete info call (941) 488-1115 or visit venicetheatre.org/international.