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International news round-up: November 23

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Antonio Banderas to launch theatre in hometown of Malaga

SPAIN Spanish actor and director Antonio Banderas is to launch his own theatre in his hometown of Malaga, where he trained. He will modernise the existing Alameda Theatre, adding an amphitheatre and workrooms. Banderas moved his focus to the project after meeting opposition earlier this year to his plan to revamp Malaga’s Astoria and Victoria cinemas.

Italy votes to ban animals in circuses and travelling shows

ITALY The Italian parliament has voted to phase out all animals in circuses and travelling shows in the country, which has one of the world’s biggest circus industries. Italy becomes the 41st country to pass national laws prohibiting animals in circuses, affecting approximately 100 circuses with 2,000 animals.

Outdoor spectacular staged in Thay Pagoda complex

VIETNAM Vietnam has premiered outdoor spectacular Northern Quintessence, set in the Thay Pagoda complex, a national heritage site 25km west of Hanoi. Directed by Hoang Nhat Nam, the set is made of interlocking platforms over a manmade lake and celebrates rural life in the north of the country. The production uses hundreds of extras, including 120 local farmers, and aims to be a top tourist attraction. Nam says he also wants to create further productions: Central Quintessence and Southern Quintessence.

Shaw Festival 2019 to stage new version of The Mahabharata

CANADA Canada’s Shaw Festival is co-producing a touring production of The Mahabharata for its 2019 edition. The festival approached Toronto’s Why Not Theatre to create a new version of the ancient Sanskrit epic, which will feature a cast from the South Asian diaspora, along with a Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter grant of C$375,000 (£223,000) and co-production by the UK’s Complicite.

Co-directors Ravi Jain, Why Not’s artistic director, and New Yorker Jenny Koons came to the attention of the Shaw Festival after the duo’s collaboration on Gimme Shelter, a solo show based on the Bhagavad Gita for the Pan American Games in 2015.

Bengaluru company aims to challenge size perceptions for actors

INDIA Bengaluru’s newly formed Big Fat Company aims to challenge perceptions in India by creating opportunities for actors who do not conform to body stereotypes. Anuradha HR founded the company for plus-sized performers like herself who were tired, she says, of being cast as maids, mothers-in-law or the comic element – and never roles such as Lady Macbeth. After running a series of workshops in both English and the local language Kannada, the company is now raising funds to put on its first performance in December.

Staatsoper reopens after long delays and budget overruns

GERMANY Berlin’s Staatsoper (State Opera) has reopened after a seven-year refit that has cost 400 million (£358 million). In a renovation that ran millions over budget and took three years longer than planned, for reasons of comfort and increased visibility seating was reduced from 1,398 to 1,356. Improvements included raising the ceiling of the main hall by 16ft, adding a ceramic net to even out sound distribution and digging a 377ft tunnel connecting a rehearsal centre to the main stage.

Cultural centre on the Seine includes two new auditoriums

FRANCE After four years of construction, La Seine Musicale has become the newest cultural centre in Paris, with two main auditoriums that can accommodate audiences of up to 1,150 and 6,000 each. Designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban with French architect Jean de Gastines, the round glass-and-timber venue stands on an island in the Seine and integrates five recording studios, practice rooms, a rooftop garden and a ‘sail’ of solar panels.

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

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