With subscriptions to The Cultch already on sale for the 2010/2011 Season, and tickets about to go on sale August 1, it is time for me to put my mind to our 2011/2012 Season. One of the ways I do this is to travel to other festivals and see what performing companies and artists from Canada and around the world are touring. My first stop is the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina. A well-established annual festival, it has a sister festival in Italy with the same name. The programming ranges from opera and chamber music through contemporary dance, outdoor jazz concerts, puppetry and new theatrical work. It is very interesting to the see the dynamic in Charleston between the community and festival. Everyone in town knows about it and knows it brings visitors into town and is important for the economy – there’s a great buzz! I saw eight shows, and all but one received a standing ovation. Even shows whose content might be considered to be quite “racy” by the local, very conservative population were appreciated.
I had the opportunity of seeing Daniel McIvor’s latest one-man show, This is What Happens Next. I had forgotten what a stunning performer Daniel is, so it was terrific to see him on stage again. This was a very Canadian play yet it definitely resonated with audiences in the southern United States.
The work I saw in Charleston was eclectic and diverse. One of my favourite shows was a marionette version of Cinderella. Produced by Colla Marionette Company, an Italian company that has been run by the same family for 250 years, it was refreshingly traditional. The story was simply narrated and featured a live band and lavish costumes and sets that showed off the skills of the dozen puppeteers who manipulated the 150 puppets in the show.
Finally, a big favourite for me was performers from Berlin called Die Roten Punkte, who will be playing the Vancouver Fringe Festival in September this year! I strongly suggest you go and see them and if you do, let me know if I should look into an encore performance at The Cultch!
Heather Redfern is Executive Director of The Cultch.