LIFT launches 2012 programme, Arab Spring in spotlightDate: 14 March 2012
The London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT) has announced its 2012 programme, which will feature work from the Middle East, Europe, America and Australia.
Running from 12 June to 15 July at venues across London, this year marks over 30 years of the biennial festival, which was formed in 1981 by students Rose Fenton and Lucy Neal.
Speaking to Whatsonstage.com ahead of last night's launch event, LIFT artistic director Mark Ball described this year's festival as "the most ambitious in our history". It will feature seven world premieres, four UK premieres and eight London premieres.
Among the highlights are, as previously reported, LIFT's first West End engagement with Gatz, the UK premiere of Elevator Repair Service’s eight-hour staging of The Great Gatsby, which runs from 8 June to 15 July at the Noel Coward Theatre. Ball said he was "astounded" by the production in New York, adding that its themes regarding the corruption of wealth are "amazingly timely".
Elsewhere, An Adventure Map (from 12 June) will invite audiences to explore London using a special map pointing to "curated and crafted short adventures" across the capital, while directors Frauke Requardt and David Rosenberg (Electric Hotel) will present "their most ambitious project to date", Motor Show (23-27 June), taking place on a 22-acre plot of land on Greenwich Peninsula.
Belarus Free Theatre will present Minsk 2011: A Reply to Kathy Acker at the Young Vic from 12 to 23 June, billed as a "love letter to a home that exiles those willing to fight for it", and White Rabbit, Red Rabbit by Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour, who is unable to travel outside of Iran as he did not undertake national service, will run at the Gate Theatre on 17, 24 June and 1 July.
Arab Spring in focus
The ongoing Arab Spring will be the subject of several productions at this year's LIFT. 66 Minutes in Damascus (Shoreditch Town Hall, 19-24 June) from Lebanese director Lucien Bourjeily brings the Syrian revolution "disturbingly close to London", while Macbeth: Leila and Ben - A Bloody History (Riverside Studios, 4-7 July) will see French-Tunisian theatre group Artistes Producteurs Associés tackle Shakespeare's bloody tragedy through the prism of last year's Tunisian Revolution. And Romeo and Juliet in Baghdad (Riverside Studios, 27-30 June) will relocate Shakespeare's doomed lovers to the "sectarian strife of modern day Baghdad", in a production running as part of the World Shakespeare Festival.
Mark Ball told Whatsonstage.com: "We started looking intensely at the Middle East region in 2010 because, even before the Arab Spring happened, we were getting a sense that there was a younger generation of independent artists who were part of the change. They were starting to make working independently look enticing, not necessarily bound and confined by the more conservative theatre tradition. Obviously, there’s been an absolute explosion since then that’s changed being an artist and we’ve been sensitive to that in this year's festival."
Among other highlights of LIFT 2012 are: The London premiere of Look Left Look Right's You Once Said Yes (Roundhouse, 12 June-1 July); the UK premiere of avant-garde theatre company Forced Entertainment's The Coming Storm (BAC, 19-23 June); The Dark Side of Love (Roundhouse, 26 June-8 July), a series of Shakespeare scenes directed by Brazil's Renato Rocha; and Ganesh Versus the Third Reich (Stratford Circus, 28 June-1 July), in which Australia's Back to Back Theatre conjure up the "epic journey of an elephant-headed Hindu god who seeks to go one-on-one with Hitler".
For full details of this year's programme, visit www.liftfestival.com