How do you fit Croatia, Slovakia, Romania, Ireland, Canada, Columbia, England, Japan, Italy, Finland, France, Russia, the Ukraine, Sweden, the Philippines, India and Germany into the state of Michigan? Easy -- hold an international theatre festival there and invite 17 foreign companies to attend.
That's just what the Twin City Players and Lake Michigan College are doing, June 24-28, 1998. They've invited award-winning amateur theatre groups from the above countries to compete in the event, which is sponsored by the American Association of Community Theatres. Twin City Players president Larry Nielsen cautions that because each company must pay its own way and arrange for its own visas, not all the teams are expected to make it, but there are already alternates chosen to fill whatever slots might open up. That said, Twin City Players will help arrange housing, transportation and some meals for the visitors. Nielsen is actively seeking both contributions and guest families to provide accommodations.
Performances of the 1998 International Theatre Festival will take place at two stages (1,500 and 227 seats) at the Mendel Center on the Lake Michigan College campus. Productions will be staged in their original languages, though detailed English synopses will be distributed before performances. Winners of the fest will be chosen by three judges: one from the U.S., two from abroad.
Says Nielsen, "Each group has exactly ten minutes to prepare the stage, 90 minutes or less to make its presentation, and ten minutes after to clear the stage for the next group... It can get pretty dicey out there, especially when most casts will be performing heavily-edited versions of shows they originally learned to do in uncut form.
For tickets ($10 per show; $155 per five-day package, including four meals) and information on the festival call (616) 927-8116 after Jan. 1, 1998. The International Theatre Festival is held every four years at various U.S. Cities. Nielsen says that for this year's hosting honors, the Mendel Center faced competition from Texas, Wisconsin, California, South Carolina, Indiana, Iowa and Colorado.
-- By David Lefkowitz