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International news round-up: March 26

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Directors’ sessions

ITALY/SPOLETO The 16th La Mama Umbria International Symposium for Directors has announced its programme for 2015. Running from June 27-July 27, it features directors including Tina Landau (USA), Claudia Castellucci (Italy), Oh Tae Sook (Korea), Sergei Tcherkasski (Russia), Kok Heng Leun (Singapore), Brett Bailey (South Africa, see main piece this page) and Mohammad Ghaffari (Iran) leading interactive sessions.

Emily on the Esplanade

SINGAPORE From April to May, Singapore’s Esplanade venue is mounting a mammoth showcase for this year’s edition of the Studios season — 50 English-language plays from Singapore from the 1960s onwards. Stella Kon’s Emily Of Emerald Hill, Kuo Pao Kun’s Descendants Of The Eunuch Admiral, Haresh Sharma’s Off Centre and many more will be staged or be part of a host of dramatised readings.

Strikes and shadows

SOUTH AFRICA/JOHANNESBURG Nominations for the 2015 Naledi Theatre Awards have been announced in Johannesburg, with Aubrey Sekhabi’s production of Marikana: The Musical leading the field with 13 nominations. It created enormous interest because of its controversial subject matter, the killing in 2012 of strikers at the Marikana mine near Rustenburg. Veteran Athol Fugard is nominated for best local script, best production and best actor for his new play The Shadow of the Hummingbird. Winners will be announced on April 14.

LSO opens new venue

GERMANY/HAMBURG The 2,400-seat Mehr! Theatre opened in Hamburg with a concert on March 7 by the London Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of conductor Gianandrea Noseda. This versatile space, constructed inside Hamburg’s iconic Grossmarkt building, is now hosting We Will Rock You, with Dirty Dancing to come in May. The Mehr! Entertainment group now operates seven theatres in Germany. It brings the number of venues in Hamburg suitable for staging large-scale musicals to five

‘EU sidelines culture’

BELGIUM/BRUSSELS March 31 sees the launch in Brussels of No Culture, No Europe, a collection of essays edited by Pascal Gielen and published by Valiz which argue that the European Union’s lack of attention to culture is the main cause of today’s political and economic crises: culture, as a shared frame of reference and as something that lends meaning to people’s lives, is not the superstructure but the very foundation or substructure of any society.

Critics favour Velvet

CZECH REPUBLIC/PRAGUE The first Czech Theatre Critics’ Awards, a replacement for the long-time Alfred Radok awards, have been announced after a ballot by 69 Czech critics. The winner in almost all categories was Prague’s Theatre on the Balustrade, with Milos Orson Stedron’s Velvet Havel named best production and best new play, as well as providing the best actor and best actress. The theatre itself was named theatre of the year.

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