Animal Magnetism: A look into New York Mabou Mines experimental theater
Thousands of spectators will be thrilled and entertained by scores of different troupes and acts from all over the world over the next few days. New York's Mabou Mines -- known for its avant-garde pieces -- is one of the theatre groups that will perform at the Wuzhen Theatre Festival. CGTN's Karina Huber has more on their preparations from the Big Apple.
A talking rhinoceros doing standup comedy in a thick German accent. This isn't your standard theatre fare. It's a rehearsal for an avant-garde performance called "Animal Magnetism", that is about to get its debut in China. The story about two unlikely lovers – a chimpanzee and a rhino - was chosen to be a part of this year's Wuzhen Theatre Festival.
TERRY O'REILLY DIRECTOR, "ANIMAL MAGNETISM" "It's about these two very, very different characters who are attracted to one another and they are dealing with forces that are far outside of their control, which is much the way our lives are.”
O'Reilly wrote "Animal Magnetism" 18 years ago. He recently adapted it for a puppet performance. He is also co-artistic director at Mabou Mines.
KARINA HUBER NEW YORK "Mabou Mines was founded in this building in 1970. Since then, it has staged more than 120 works and won upwards of 100 awards. It's an integral part of New York's experimental theater scene also known as the avant-garde, a genre that first emerged in the late 1800s. "
It is still popular in many parts of the world but not in the United States.
DODD LOOMIS CO-DIRECTOR, "ANIMAL MAGNETISM" "I would say the average American has little to no tolerance for the avant-garde.”
Dodd Loomis who co-directed "Animal Magnetism" says that's because American audiences largely want to be entertained, not challenged.
Another impediment is funding. In many countries, the arts are supported by government funds. In the US, the arts rely mainly on individual donations.
DODD LOOMIS CO-DIRECTOR, "ANIMAL MAGNETISM" "The idea that Mabou Mines has been around for 47 years and still going is a miracle. It takes blood, sweat and tears every day to do that."
To survive, theatre companies like Mabou Mines, are going to where the market is – places like China.
ENRICO WEY PUPPETEER, MABOU MINES "There's sort of a big rush towards accessing different types of cultural activity in China right now. And so I think it'll be particularly interesting to see what that response is and see where that enthusiasm – where that cross-cultural exchange happens on the stage."
Puppetry designer and director Jessica Scott is also looking forward to her first performance in China.
"Animal Magnetism" will have four performances at the Wuzhen Theatre Festival between October 25th and 28th. Karina Huber, CGTN, New York.