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Theater festival explores new dimensions in stage performances

By Zhang Kun | China Daily | Updated: 2019-09-24 08:42
My Great Work, an object theater show by David Espinosa from Spain.[Photo provided to China Daily]

The ongoing ACT Shanghai International Theatre Festival has participants from nine countries, with a total of eight plays and one installation project at the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center.

The festival, which started on Sept 12 and lasts through Saturday, has the theme of "sip of new dimensions". It will mark the Chinese debut of seven overseas productions and will cover a wide range of styles and media, such as dance and physical theater, object theater and hypertext structure, a format that enables the audience to make choices and direct the narrative. The festival, founded in 2005, was conceived to introduce new theatrical explorations from all over the world to China.

"As a nonprofit festival, we are dedicated to showing audiences and industry insiders in China the latest in experimental theater, development trends in the sector and high quality shows," says Huang Jiadai, curator of the ACT festival since 2016. "We are happy to find that, in the past few years, quite a few productions that made their Chinese debut at the ACT festival went on to tour the country and achieve commercial success."

For example, Andre and Dorine, a silent theater show from Spain, is in Shanghai celebrating its 13th tour of China, with more than 100 performances, since it was first shown at the festival in 2011.

The opening production this year is Germinal from France, which won high praise at the Festival d'Avignon a few years ago. Huang praised the play as "one of my top five plays among the more than 1,000 theater shows I have experienced". The production features four people in a closed space, where they accumulate knowledge, learn about science and build a society. "There is lots of humor, and philosophical ideas are presented in a lighthearted fashion," Huang says. "It is about the formation of human civilization, as well as what keeps us bound together and communication between people."

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