New festival spices up winter blues
By: Anna Borowiecki
| Posted: Saturday, Oct 27, 2012 06:00 am
Thousand Faces Festival
Oct. 28 to Nov. 11
Alberta Avenue Theatre
9030 – 118 Ave.
Free: donations gratefully accepted
A new festival has sprouted in northeast Edmonton and its seeds spring from mythology and enchantment.
The inaugural Thousand Faces Festival that runs Sunday until November 11 at the Avenue Theatre pulls together global myths using theatre, music, dance, storytelling and the visual arts.
Through the various myths, players from seven different cultures and five different disciplines strive to shape dreams and enchant. And those reveries are only as expansive as the imagination.
The brainchild of Mark Henderson, artistic director of Theatre Prospero, a no-budget mini-festival was hosted last year as a pilot project.
Although the operative word was on “mini,” Henderson saw it as an opportunity to create art. This year the variety ranges from a devotion to the Hindu goddess Durga and African storytelling to Aboriginal circus art and Shakespeare.
“They are very far apart, but they exist under the same moon. It’s about art which explores what is magical and transcends the human experience in all its incredible glory and all its pain,” Henderson says.
When Henderson was planning the festival, he initially wanted to create a roots-mythology based on either the Greek tragedies, Shakespeare or the Medieval Mysteries.
But ultimately it was Joseph Campbell’s non-fiction The Hero with a Thousand Faces that was the main influence.
“Joseph Campbell looks at the hero quest through history and found parallels in the historic psyche,” notes Henderson adding that George Lucas used Campbell’s analysis as a template for the mega-successful Star Wars series.
At the festival, an Eastern trance winds its way through Moods of Mother, a depiction of Durga and how her manifestations resonate in the western world. Directed by Edmonton filmmaker Shreela Chakrabartty, it features Bharathanatyam dancer Malavika Venkatsubbaiah and Grammy-nominated Hindustani slide guitarist Debashish Bhattacharya.
In The Buddha Suites, Edmonton-born composer Matthew Roberts marries traditional Buddhist music and classic jazz.
“Seven musicians do seven movements from Buddha’s birth to enlightenment.”
Alberta Aboriginal Arts in partnership with the National Stiltwalkers of Canada make a leap with Trad Cirq, a circus performance that follows the development of a hero’s journey into an epic hoop dance battle.
Using movement and groove, the Good Woman Dance Collective offers up Counterparts & Pod, a modern vision of two mythologies of Narcissus and the Gemini Twins.
“I first saw what they did at the Fringe and I was blown away by their passion and precision.”
Tololwa Molwel, a Tanzanian-Edmontonian, is master storyteller who spellbinds audiences with his tales of African culture. Accompanying him is Namibian singer Garth Prince.
The festival also revives April Killins’ The Wishing Tree, a gem where a child of a mixed marriage that falls apart escapes into her imagination to ease the confusion.
And as a mythmaker, Shakespeare needs no introduction. Theatre Prospero is mounting two productions on alternating nights – A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet.
Cliff Kelly, working in advertising and design at St. Albert’s Surface Flow Control, a drainage supply company, is tackling two very different roles. In Romeo and Juliet, a tale of doomed lovers, he plays the calculating Tybalt. In Midsummer, a fairy comedy, Kelly switches characters as Lysander, the free-spirited young man accidentally sprinkled with a powder to make him fall in love for the wrong girl.
Henderson wraps it up saying, “Mythology shows us how bright and magical the world is, and how it expands our possibilities to be human. That’s important in an era when a lot of people want to reduce us for breeding and consumerism. It creates hope and that has resonance in our lives.”
Complete festival information is available at www.thousandfaces.ca.
Below is a list of event days and times:
• Moods of Mother – Oct. 29 at 8 p.m.
• The Buddha Suite – Nov. 9 at 6 p.m.
• Trad Cirq – Nov. 9 at 10 a.m., Nov. 10 at 1 p.m. and 9 p.m., and Nov. 11 at 2 p.m.
• Counterparts & Pod – Nov. 1, 4 at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 7 at 5 p.m., Nov. 10 at 7 p.m.
• Tololwa Molwel – Nov. 4 at 2 p.m., Nov. 6 at 10 a.m., Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 8 at 8 p.m.
• The Wishing Tree – Oct. 31 at 7 p.m., Nov. 1 at 9 a.m., Nov. 2 at 7 p.m., Nov. 3 at 4:30 p.m., Nov. 4 at 4 p.m. and Nov. 6 at 5:30 p.m.
• A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Nov. 7 at 8:15 p.m., Nov. 9 at 8:30 p.m., Nov. 10 at 3 p.m.
• Romeo and Juliet – Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 6 at 8 p.m.