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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

OUT THE BOX (article first published : 2008-01-30)

After its sell out success in 2007, the Out The Box Festival of Puppetry and Visual Performance will be running in Cape Town from August 30 to September 7. The festival is calling for applications from artists and companies who would be interested in participating in the festival this year.

Organised by UNIMA SA (the international association of puppetry, SA), Out the Box “is fast becoming South Africa’s premier puppetry and visual performance event” (Cape Times). Brent Meersman of the Mail and Guardian says: “…the Out The Box Festival has finally arrived as a vital force on our theatre landscape” and Adrienne Sichel of the Sunday Independent described it as a “conceptual wonderland…from the culturally charged cauldron of Cape Town creativity”. The growth and popularity of puppetry and visual performance all over the world, and now in South Africa, is testament to the appeal of this collaborative artistic medium. The festival will provide emerging and established visual theatre artists with a platform to present their work alongside award-winning international practitioners.

In 2008, the festival will be divided into two main components, The Family Festival and the Adult Festival at the Little Theatre Complex, Orange Street. Making up a third major component that will span across both the Adult and Family festival are the Active Puppets (Puppetry for social development) activities. Also to be launched is a puppetry film programme to complement and add to the festival’s rich diversity.

Visual performance is artistic expression that moves beyond text based theatre utilizing images, puppetry, objects, video, art and dynamic multimedia in an interactive or performative context. This is not to the exclusion of text but where images are of primary importance to the language, the work can be considered ‘visual’. It’s about stimulating the senses. It’s about experimentation, collaboration and interrogation. It explores different spaces, from the theatre to site specific work.

Out of the Box is looking for diverse artists to apply to participate in the festival in 2008. Participants are encouraged to consider the following aspects of the festival:

The adult festival contains within it several forums for artists to participate. These are: presentation of a visual theatre production; art installation/live art piece; participation in Iqonga (Platform); participation in Active puppets; presentation of an illustrated talk at the conference; facilitation of a practical workshop, street performance/festivities.

Visual Theatre Production: This is a stand-alone professional production aimed at a principally adult audience. These pieces can be dance or theatre based. Installation/Live Art refers to a site-specific installation, live art performance, kinetic art, interactive art. Any duration. To be located on Hiddingh or the immediate surrounds. Iqonga/Platform offers a platform for professional theatre-makers, dancers and artists to experiment with visual performance. Artistic and developmental support will be offered to those who wish it. Active Puppets brings together theatre-makers using puppetry for social development and education. It is a forum for exchange, learning and experimentation with using this dynamic medium for effective communication.

There is also a conference planned (topic still to be confirmed). Leading ideas on contemporary visual performance will be discussed. Artists and academics are asked to talk about their work to open the debate and stimulate thinking in this area. Practical workshops for performers and theatre makes as well as students will be offered. Consider offering a workshop to develop emerging puppeteers, performers, artists and /or theatre makers.

Street performances/festivities: Part of the festival’s unique atmosphere is its encouragement of free, outdoor performances. The grounds of the Hiddingh Campus become a space of free-roaming performance and celebration. All street performers, stilt-walkers, clowns, musicians and roaming puppeteers welcome. Out the Box is also seeking to commission an outdoor event/performance for 2008.

Film: Any film containing puppets, animatronix, new media or stop motion is eligible. Any duration.

The Family Festival will include shows, workshops, festivities and a schools exhibition of puppet creations. For 2008, a selection of fully professional, high quality children’s theatre (with puppets/masks or other visual media) will be made. A presentation should last 50 min (for schools audiences) and may include a show and a talk. Consider offering a puppet-construction workshop for children. Participants stipulate the length, age-group and requirements. An exhibition will be open to all learners, representing an expression of free creativity and play. Puppets will be displayed throughout the festival venue.

Out the Box is located at the high profile and popular Little Theatre Complex in the heart of the city (with over five theatre venues and diverse found spaces) and the Guga S’thebe Cultural Centre in Langa. The festival takes place from August 30 to September 7.

The deadline for the call for Artists and Participants is March 1, 2008. More information from Aja Marneweck on 021 685 5453 or 083 439 6117 or email: outthebox@unima.za.org




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