New York’s international theater festival Under the Radar (Jan. 4 – 15, 2018)
Known for its annual programs of the most cutting-edge performing arts in the U.S., the Under the Radar international theater festival was held again this year with New York’s The Public Theater as its main venue. Currently, the festival’s co-directors are the festival’s founder Mark Russell and the director and playwright Meiyin Wang.
Over the past 14 years, some 229 groups from 42 countries have been invited to this festival held at The Public Theater. While of course included in these are contemporary theater-makers from around the U.S., a big role of this festival has been to give the American contemporary theater scene that otherwise tends to be isolated an opportunity to encounter the latest work from the countries of Europe. Among the artists and groups from America that have won opportunities to perform internationally thanks to this festival as Elevator Repair Service, Nature Theater of Oklahoma, Young Jean Lee and others.
The festival consists of the Main Program presenting works of cutting-edge performing arts by contemporary artist and groups from the U.S. and abroad, the “In Concert” program the “re-engineers the intersection of music and theater,” the “Incoming” program introducing the work of new-generation directors and choreographers, and other events such as panel discussions and the like.
Among the works in this year’s Main Program are Nature Theater of Oklahoma’s Pursuit of Happiness, a criticism of the post 9/11 world in a comical theater approach; the Chinese director Wang Chong and his company Théâtre du Rêve Expérimental present Thunderstorm 2.0, a re-interpretation of early 20th century playwright Cao Yu’s 1951 drama Thunderstorm; and Margarete by the documentary theater artist Janek Turkowski active in Szczecin, Poland. From Japan, Satoshi Miyagi presents Mugen Noh Othello at the Japan Center. This is a re-interpretation of Shakespeare’s famous play form the perspective of mugen (ghostly spirit) Noh. In it, Othello’s murdered wife Desdemona returns live out her memories of her life with Othello to eternity as a ghost in a world of this ultimate form of Noh.
This festival is held in New York at the same time as the APAP arts market and takes The Public Theater in New York as its main venue. The festival premiered at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn in 2005 and moved its main venue to The Public Theater the following year and began inviting works from abroad. By 2009, some 52 works from 14 countries were presented. Also on its programs are works produced jointly with such leading internationally acclaimed American artists and companies as SITI Company, Elevator Repair Service and Nature Theater of Oklahoma, among others. The founder of Under the Radar is Mark Russell long-time director of New York’s PS122 and leader in the New York arts scene who afterward served as artistic director of Time-Based Arts Festival (2006-08) at Portland’s PICA and remains one of North America’s important presenters of contemporary performing arts.
- Under The Radar