Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, the festival will feature an eclectic mix of internationally flavored clowns, in addition to its normal program of performances from companies all across the globe. The Norwegian town that hosts the festival - and lends its name to the title - has even erected a “Street of Fools” for the occasion, a unique performance venue to add to the more traditional spaces being used.
In its ever-expanding mission to provide a meeting place for artists the world over, the festival has created a new section this year, The Magdalena Corner. Meant to be a breeding ground for discussion, the Corner will be centered on The Magdalena Project, an internationally known network of women in modern theatre. The United States has its own branch, as do such varied countries as New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Colombia, and Argentina. The group's history, from it's founding in Wales in 1986, to its role and obligations for the future will be discussed in a lecture by founding member Jill Greenhalgh.
The festival traditionally surrounds the performance aspects of its schedule with several support events. A panel on “Culture in City Development”, something not unknown to American city councils, will be presented along with exhibitions by designated festival visual artist Kjetil I. Berge. Two performance workshops will also be included. The first will assist festivalgoers in the creation of their own parade character, which they can then display for all to see in a parade through the “Street of Fools.” In the second, Claudia Contin and Ferrucio Merisi, Europe's leading teachers of Commedia Dell'arte, will get physical with those wishing to learn the mechanics that famous style of acting.
The schedule itself includes a wide-range of pieces including: a version of Henrik Ibsen's The Ghosts in which two actors use the Tango to express emotion; a portrayal of the plight of a women's orchestra in the Bergen-Belsen Nazi concentration camp; a rock concert/solo show based on the writings of Georg Johannesen; a performance called The Letter by Paolo Nani that received the European Comedy Award in Frankfurt; and an event performed by the Ronaldo family, circus-theatre creators for half a dozen generations.
The festival is organized and run by Grenland Friteater, a theatre company that began in Porsgrunn in 1976. Much like the development of the New York International Fringe Festival and it's organizing theatre, The Present Company, Grenland Friteater and the Porsgrunn International Theatre Festival have aided each other in growth over the years. The company now resides in a complex that features a theater and rehearsal space, cafe, workshop and offices. For more information on the festival click here to visit it's comprehensive website. The Magdalena Project also has a resourceful website, to visit it click here.