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International news round-up: November 3

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Arts building opens

USA/BOSTON The University of Massachusetts, Boston, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on October 17, welcoming the public to tour its new arts and humanities building known as University Hall. Set on the shores of Boston Harbour, the multidisciplinary 181,000 sq ft facility was a collaboration between Theatre Projects and Wilson Architects, with acoustic work provided by Acentech. Theatre Projects programmed and designed the building’s performing arts and support spaces for the $130 million project, which includes a 500-seat auditorium, a 200-seat studio theatre, a 150-seat recital hall and a dance studio.

Puppet spectacular

KENYA/NAIROBI The eighth International Puppetry Festival (IPfest 2016) Kenya, organised by the Kenya Institute of Puppet Theatre, took place from October 15-22 in Nairobi. The one-week event featured diverse performances in puppetry, mask, object/visual theatre, performance poetry and storytelling. The programme included groups from Finland, Hungary, Israel and Poland, as well as Project Hand Up from the US and Reefknot Communications Puppet Theatre Company from Uganda.

Superstar ‘blasphemy’

RUSSIA/OMSK The Musical Theatre of the city of Omsk has cancelled a staging of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar after a pro-Kremlin nationalist group condemned it as blasphemy. The touring production by St Petersburg’s Rock Opera Theatre was due to open on November 1, but the organisers cancelled it following protests by conservative activists. An obscure group called Family, Love, Fatherland had appealed to regional authorities to stop the staging and applied to hold a demonstration, accusing the long-running musical of “non-stop blasphemy” and “mockery of faith”.

Wuzhen festival

CHINA/WUZHEN The fourth Wuzhen Theatre Festival has just finished in this historic Chinese city. An ambitious international programme included groups from Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Spain and Russia, with notable performances from Frank Castorf’s Berlin Volksbuhne in Dostoevsky’s The Gambler and the Stary Theatre from Krakow in Jan Klata’s production of An Enemy of the People. The Tiger Lillies Perform Hamlet featured them in 21 new songs from their leader, Martyn Jacques, supported by a Danish cast under director Martin Tulinius.

Focus on Punjabi plays

INDIA/AMRITSAR The 10th Punjabi Theatre Festival, organised by Theatre Persons, Virsa Vihar and North Zone Cultural Centre, took place in Amritsar from October 23-29. The festival featured only Punjabi plays, among them Asi Ann Data Hone Aan, Delhi Road Tey Ek Hadsa and Ishq Remix. Anita Devgan, actor and president of Theatre Persons, said: “We tried to feature new playwrights and directors in the festival to give them a platform to shine.”

Festival/Tokyo 2016

JAPAN/TOKYO Polish director Krystian Lupa’s internationally acclaimed adaptation of Thomas Bernhard’s Woodcutters will be a feature of Festival/Tokyo, a two-month theatre festival that runs from October 15 to December 11 under its artistic director Sachio Ichimura. From this year, Festival/Tokyo will be one of four annual events grouped under the heading of the Tokyo Metropolitan Festival. The other three are the Toshima International City of Arts and Culture Programme, focusing on traditional performing arts; a so-called Autumn Selection of plays to be presented at Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre; and the Asian Performing Arts Forum, featuring artists from elsewhere in Asia. The amalgamation is the idea of Tokyo’s new governor, Yuriko Koike.

Machipisa venue

ZIMBABWE/HARARE Theatre ensemble, Edzai Isu Trust has begun a clean-up campaign at the Machipisa Bridge in Highfield, Harare, with the intention of establishing a community theatre venue named Theatre paBridge at the disused footbridge while recovering its initial purpose. The project, which has seed funding from Africalia, began with a theatre awareness campaign around the bridge. After the clean-up, a groundbreaking ceremony was held on October 24 (World Development Information Day) and the renovations will start immediately, so that the trust can launch the theatre on November 16, International Day for Tolerance.

The International section is co-edited by Ian Herbert and Nick Awde. Contact email: international@thestage.co.uk

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