Cultural Trust Announces New Festival of Firsts | Blogh

Monday, June 3, 2013

Cultural Trust Announces New Festival of Firsts

Posted By on Mon, Jun 3, 2013 at 12:20 PM

“We’ll launch the duck around 6 p.m. that evening” is a phrase you don’t hear daily. But at this morning’s press conference, the Trust’s Paul Organisak was having some fun announcing the whimsical treat that will kick off this rather prestigious fall festival of performing and visual arts.

The duck in question is The Rubber Duck, an international phenomenon involving a yellow ducky the size of a yacht that’s already turned heads from Amsterdam to Sao Paulo and Hong Kong. Here’s a photo from the artist’s site:


This creation of Holland’s Studio Florentijn Hoffman will be floated upriver from the Point on Sept. 27 to announce the opening of the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts. The date coincides with the Trust's fall Gallery Crawl, and they'll shut down the 16th Street Bridge for an FOF party.

As the festival’s title implies, it’ll be the first U.S. appearance for not just the Bunyanesque toy waterfowl, but also for each of seven edgy performance works and four visual art exhibitions, all in and around Downtown from Sept. 28-Oct. 26.

Previous Festivals of Firsts, in 2004 and 2008, were hits, and this one sounds pretty promising too.

The kickoff performance is a dance show by the internationally acclaimed Compagnie Marie Chouinard that includes the U.S. premiere of “Gymnopedies,” set to solo piano works by Erik Satie, and “Henri Michaux:Movements,” inspired by poems and drawings by the Belgian artist. The troupe is familiar to Pittsburgh Dance Council devotees — no coincidence, as Festival curator Organisak also runs the Dance Council.

Next comes Kiss & Cry, in which a miniature theater performance — featuring human hands portraying characters on tiny sets — is transformed into a “live movie” for the audience. The story is a drama about a woman recounting her greatest loves; the troupe is Belgium’s NanoDanses, Michèle Anne De Mey and Jaco Van Dormael.

Also on the program: The Pigenoning, Brooklyn-based Robin Frohardt’s darkly comic bunraku puppet work about an obsessive-compulsive man’s relationship with pigeons; Perth (Australia) Theatre Company’s It’s Dark Outside, a human-and-puppet drama about a man facing Alzheimer’s and Sundowner’s syndromes; and Swiss company Zimmerman & de Perrot’s Han was Heir, a crazy-looking Euro-circus-style show whose memorable components include a stage that revolves on a horizontal access (imagine a cross-sectioned four-room house rotating like a pinwheel).

But wait, there’s more. The most conceptual-sounding work is American artists Christopher McElroen and T. Ryder Smith’s Measure Back. As explained by McElroen at the press conference via Skype, it’s an interactive work about war, in which text and reference points from the Trojan War to modern torture manuals — not to mention technology including audience cell phones — are used to track the distance between wartime citizen-as-spectator and citizen-as-participant. It sounds duly harrowing.

And The God That Comes is Novia Scotia-based 2b theatre company’s one-man show inspired by Euripides’ The Bacchae. So it’s about “sex, wine and rock ‘n’ roll” and stars Hawksley Workman.

The FOF visual art component, announced by Wood Street Galleries coordinator Murray Horne, includes Kurt Hentschlager’s animated 3D audiovisual installation Hive, at Wood Street, and Hentschlager and Ulf Langheinrich’s installation Granular Synthesis, including large-scale video work “Model 5” and improvised immersive environment “POL,” at Space Gallery.

Tickets for all performances are $25. For more info, see call 412-456-666 or see

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