(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- Jersey City Theater Center presents the 2nd annual Voices International Theatre Festival from Friday October 16 to Sunday October 25, a unique hybrid of virtual and live events featuring the work of 21 groundbreaking theatre companies from Europe, Eastern Europe, South Asia, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and NY-NJ. The festival’s opening ceremony on Sunday October 18 is a specially designed, socially distanced live-assembly gathering in Liberty State Park in Jersey City, combining both live and virtual elements, including classes during the afternoon and a performance-ceremony broadcast live at 6:00pm EST.
The 2020 Voices International Theatre Festival showcases daring and thematically provocative multi-disciplinary work that has been curated to offer festival-goers a deeply stimulating cross-section of ethnic, racial, gender and political perspectives. Among the notable companies and artists participating are the internationally acclaimed Belarus Free Theater; Palesa Mazamisa from South Africa; Ranan from India; Roman Viktyuk Theatre from Russia; RAAAM Theater Group of Estonia; Manuel Vignoulle from France; Matara from Israel; New York-based Sidra Bell Dance; Los Escultores del Aire from Spain, and Haeboma from South Korea.
“Many of the artists and groups we are inviting are acclaimed in their home countries as well as internationally,” says Olga Levina, the artistic director of the Jersey City Theater Center (JCTC), who is originally from Belarus. “Their work is a direct response to the state of our world and the need for greater equity and unity. Their stories are eloquent, forceful and often surprising, and their messages and testimony are riveting and shattering. They deserve as wide an audience as we can give them.”
Several of the companies chosen would not otherwise be able to travel to the United States, for a variety of reasons. Because their performances will be staged and livestreamed from their home-base theatres, the companies will share not just the perspectives and rich performative content of their most mature work, but also the context in which they create their work.
“We are very interested in sparking a far-reaching conversation with this festival,” adds Levina. “Of course the voices of the different groups will interact and combine with one another, but it is crucial for the participants to enter a conversation with the host city and the diverse local audience we nurture at JCTC. That is why our partnerships with the City of Jersey City, and with organizations throughout New Jersey, and even on-the-ground neighborhood groups and individual artists are so important. We want the conversations of 2020 Voices to be uniquely inclusive, local and global.”
The Festival is divided into three parts… 1/ Conversations, 2/ Performances, and 3/ Classes-Workshops. The Conversations section includes “Meet the Artists” (Fri Oct 16) and a Festival Forum about the work (Fri Oct 23). Performances are scheduled throughout the 10-day festival, and livestreamed in their entirety over two days -- Saturdays October 17 and 24 -- with a special Live Performances section staged from Merseles Studios at JCTC on October 24. Classes and collaborative workshops take place on Sunday, October 18 and the Festival’s closing day, on Sunday, October 25.
The Festival’s Opening Day Ceremony, boasting spectacular views of New York harbor’s Ellis Island and Liberty Island, will be staged live on Sunday, October 18 at 6:00pm, in Liberty State Park on a specially designed Gateway Grid created by Gernot Riether on the lawn of the Park’s Crescent Field. From 12:00pm to 4:30pm several live, distance-safe presentations and workshops will take place. Tickets for the ceremony are $35 for the live event and $15 online. For Festival tickets and passes visit www.jctcenter.org
Co-hosted by JCTC and the City of Jersey City, the opening ceremony convenes the Festival both virtually and live, and announces Jersey City’s commitment to sharing its rich history and current opportunities as the Golden Gateway of the United States, and JCTC’s goal of raising Voices to become an annual theatre festival generating sizable cultural and economic prosperity for the community. Jersey City can lay claim to having one of the highest concentrations of ethnic groups by population density in the country,
“America, of course, finds itself very conflicted right now,” Levina remarks. “People like myself who have come to America and found opportunity, are so grateful for what we believe America stands for. At the same time, many Americans -- descended from immigrants ironically enough -- are demanding that our borders get shut down, that we stop and even turn away people from around the world who are still yearning to breathe free. A festival like Voices will no doubt capture this struggle, but hopefully it will give voice to those who love and respect the cultural diversity of the planet and who are ready to celebrate this no matter where they live!”
Included in the 2020 Voices International Theatre Festival are works by white and non-white artists about racial and social justice; gender equality; climate change; globalization; tech revolution; personal freedom vs. totalitarianism; materialism and hedonism; war and terror; and traditional vs. modern culture. Participating companies and artists are from Europe, Eastern Europe, South Asia, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and NY-NJ are:
1/ Roman Viktyuk Theatre (RUSSIA) – “Chernobyl” winner of the 2020 Golden Mask, conceived and directed by Roman Viktyuk. Ensemble performance. Video with English subtitles
2/ Vladimir National Theatre (RUSSIA) – “Dreams of Hamlet,” written by N. Mazur, directed by Linas Marijus Zaikauskas, performed by Sasha Aladyshev. Multi-media monodrama. Video with English subtitles
3/ Ranan (INDIA) – “Shunya Se,” conceived and choreographed by Vikram Lyengar, with Debashree Bhattacharya and Sohini Debnath, co-choreographers. Performance dance.
4/ Denisa Musilova (CZECH REPUBLIC) – “Fitting Rooms,” conceived and choreographed by Denisa Musilova, with music by John Mosloskie. Performance dance.
5/ RAAAM Theater Group (ESTONIA/IRAN) – “Antigone,” adapted by Iranian exile Ghanizadeh, written in Estonian, with Farsi and English subtitles. This censored work was produced with Estonian actors from RAAM Theater Group. Modern adaptation of Sophocles
6/ Youth Theatre of Uzbekistan; International Akko Theatre Festival (Israel); Essence Theatre-Studio (USA) (a trilateral project by companies from UZBEKISTAN-ISRAEL-USA) – “Vox in Deserto” (“Voice in the Desert”), written by Didi Tal, directed by Nabi Abdurakhmanov, music by Ilya Melamed, video by Evgeniy Fuzulov and Ildar Shayhlislamov. Multi-media play. In Russian, Hebrew and English with English subtitles.
7/ (SOUTH AFRICA) – “Shoes and Coups” by Palesa Mazamisa. Satirical drama. In English
8/ (SOUTH AFRICA) – “Fordsburg’s Finest” by Paul Slabolepszy. Drama. In English
9/ (SOUTH AFRICA) – “Lost Property” by Megan Furniss. Drama. In English
10/ Mogilev Theatre (BELARUS) – “Second Hand Time Project” written by Svetlana Aleksievich, directed by Vladimir Petrovich.
11/ Grodno Regional Puppet Theatre (BELARUS) – “Poem Without Words” conceived and directed by Oleg Zhiugzhda and Larisa Mkikina-Probodyak, based on the poem “Dream on a Hill by renowned Belarussian poet and playwright Yanka Kupala. Unique puppet theatre play
12/ Belarus Free Theatre (BELARUS) – Unannounced work by the daring underground and outlawed theatre company that is part of the current groundswell of international protest against repressive regime of Alexander Lukashenko. Co-led by playwright and journalist Nikolai Khalezin and theater producer Natalia Koliada, with the collaboration of director Vladimir Shcherban. Ensemble performance. In Russian and English.
13/ Sidra Bell Dance (USA) – A world premiere of a new work by award-winning New York-based choreographer Sidra Bell who calls what she does movement illustrator. Performance dance.
14/ Jane Arnfield (ENGLAND) – Mike Alfreds and Jane Arnfield’s “The Tin Ring,” a dramatization of the true-life story of Holocaust survivor Zdenka Fantlová. One-woman performance in English.
15/ Manuel Vignoulle – M/motions (USA-FRANCE) – “Black and White,” a new work by Manuel Vignoulle, whose project-based company is based in New York. Winner of two Grand Prize Awards Palm Desert Dance Festival and the 2019 KoDaFe Dance Competition. Dance performance
16/ Haeboma (SOUTH KOREA) – “Pound it, Macbeth!” based on the story of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” conceived and produced by Jongsik Kim, combining traditional Korean martial arts, drumming and moder staging. Performance music-theatre.
17/ Matara (ISRAEL) – “Myth,” based on the play by Ido Netanyahu. A phantasmagoric examination of the power of the media in Israel and around the world, created by the company. Classic melodrama in chamber format
18/ Rehab: Theatre from Israel (ISRAEL) – “Puh-Puh-Puh,” a Russian-Israeli project conceived by the screenwriter, director and actor Ilya Demidov. Created on Zoom during quarantine by a conspiracy of actors from Russia and Israel. Political satire. In Hebrew and Russian with English subtitles.
19/ Nau Ivanow (SPAIN/CATALONIA) – “Memoria,” Nau Ivanow is a project of the Sagrera Foundation, and a partner-resident company of JCTC.
20/ Los Escultores del Aire (SPAIN) – “Turberias” conceived and directed by artistic director Mai Rojas Mixed media performance including mime, circus arts, dance and music.
21/ Vohidov Youth Theater (TAJIKISTAN) – “Banner of Kova” based on the classic poem “Shahnameh” by Abulkasim Firdousi, directed by artistic director Nazim Melikov. Explores about the roots of violence, hatred, war, and killing in the name of God. Dramatic mixed media tone poem. With subtitles.
22/ Roman Viktyuk’s Theatre (RUSSIA) - "Feast During The Plague" by A. Pushkin, directed by director Igor Nevedrov. Drama