Bábkarská Bystrica Tour 2018

Sixty years of FIDENA (Figurentheater DEr Nationen)

FIDENA is celebrating its birthday. The festival, which is one of the most important and innovative in the international puppet theater scene and explores the boundaries of the genre every two years, is celebrating its 60th anniversary.

From 9th to 18th May 2018, FIDENA’s birthday present to itself and its audience will be a programme bringing together international stars, outstanding newcomers and amazing discoveries from the puppet theatre scene in the Ruhr area. It will also include filmmakers and visual artists who work in a performative way with figures, objects and materials. 55 events in Bochum, Essen, Herne and Hattingen will feature 33 productions from 13 countries at 12 venues. The spectrum of performances will range from the large stage shows to intimate small-scale productions. Two productions commissioned for the Jubilee Festival will be world premieres, and another five productions will be German premieres. The artists and companies come from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Germany, France, Great Britain, Israel, Italy, the Congo, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the USA.

The title of the 2018 programme is resist. It is more political and text-based than in previous years. Several productions deal with “female resistance”, others with bourgeois protest or political resistance, and some recall historical resistance movements. For the first time the festival will be working with surtitles in order to make the international productions more comprehensible in Germany: sometimes words are needed to make things clear.

For the opening on 9th May in Bochum, the public can look forward to a participatory gala parade in the heart of Bochum. It will be headed by Agatha Punch, the world’s largest Kasper. This unpredictable and rebellious superheroine will be rushing round the globe in the company of her hippopotamus, equipped with a burning lance, drilling machine and explosives. Espace Masolo from Kinshasa and Australia’s leading puppet theatre company Snuff Puppets and – FIDENA fans will have guessed already – Stuttgart’s puppeteer and director Stefanie Oberhoff have also been involved in this transnational production commissioned by FIDENA. The parade will lead from the Rotunda to the Bochum Schauspielhaus. All spectators are invited to bring their glove puppets and marionettes and join the anarchic high jinks of “Agatha Punch” & Co.

Many productions this year provide clear political statements. The Australian Neville Tranter, the King of Puppetry, presents Babylon, his latest piece about tugboats and a very special refugee, about the Promised Land and religious nonsense. This is Tranter at his best: black, humorous and blasphemous. A House in Asia – Osama bin Laden’s house in Abbottabad – is the most observed house of our time. Agrupación Señor Serrano from Barcelona mixes live videos with scaled-down models, texts, performances, sound, video games and objects in its work. It presents us with a relentless pop portrait of the decade that followed 9/11. With Mariano Pensotti and Grupo Marea, a company from Argentina will be visiting FIDENA for the very first time. In Blazing Light in the Forests of the Night the author, born in Buenos Aires, uses puppetry, drama and film to trace the consequences of the Russian Revolution. What relevance do some of the ideas of the Russian Revolution still have for us today, 100 years later? Not least Lenin’s continuingly topical question: “What is to be done?”

But isn’t FIDENA for children? Well, it’s certainly not simply for children, that’s for sure. But what the FIDENA programme for children and young people has to offer leaves all the clichés of puppet theatre far behind. Bomba Mix, for example, is a real appeal for a toy revolution! After all, who says that Rosa only wants to play in a girl’s room, that Smileys are always in a good mood and that a tractor doesn’t need a cuddle? In a delightfully anarchic manner, Ximena Ameri and Alfredo Zinola question the marketing strategies of the toy industry and traditional gender roles. Furthermore, alongside Maxwell McCarthy, Alfredo Zinola will be invtiing all the children onto the dance floor. Some people might say that this is a participative show. We prefer to use the word Party: no sitting and watching, no chilling, simply fun and games and maximum energy. Alfredo Zinola’s plays are a rarity: they are aimed at children under the age of six that dispense with classical narrative structures: an interactive mix of movement, bodies, lighting and costumes.

This year, the festival centre will be located in the newly opened Bochum Rotunda. During the festival, the UNIMA International Council will also be meeting in Bochum. More than 250 representatives from all over the world will be staying in Bochum for five days.

Stefanie Görtz, 1. 4. 2018

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Bábkarská Bystrica Tour 2018

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