This January BYU will provide audiences with three unconventional theatre productions as part of the new OFF THE MAP international theatre festival.
Jeff Martin, arts manager for the College of Fine Arts and Communications (CFAC), devised the new festival when he realized that BYU students were presented mostly traditional theatrical productions.
“Through OFF THE MAP we want to expose our students to the new trends and new ways of looking at and experiencing theatre that are happening everywhere in the world,” Martin said. “The training that our students get is remarkable, but it’s important to have them be familiar with other practices in the industry.”
The three OFF THE MAP shows will be in town for one week in January 2014, performing over multiple days, giving students and the community several opportunities to see all of the productions.
“All three of these shows are very different from each other but also very different from what we typically do here at BYU,” Martin explained.
Despite the unusual aspects of the productions, Martin believes they will be well received by BYU audiences.
“They’re interdisciplinary and international, which fits in with the mission of BYU,” he said.
Audiences will be entertained by “The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer,” a unique, one-man show created by Australian actor Tim Watts. In this play, earth is no longer livable, and one man has the opportunity to save it.
“It’s a multi-disciplinary performance involving singing and live animation projected on stage,” Martin explained. In connection with the CFAC’s increased emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration, the show “will be helpful for our students to see different arts working in collaborative ways.”
The Leev Theater Group from Iran will entertain audiences as it performs “Hamlet: Prince of Grief,” a loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy. One actor will do the performance and speak entirely in Farsi, with English supertitles projected on stage.
“There’s a strong interest in this kind of work,” Martin said, speaking of intercultural exchanges. “At BYU we are curious about other cultures,” he noted.
“Translunar Paradise” is the third show in the OFF THE MAP festival and will be performed by Theatre Ad Infinitum, a company based in London. The show has no dialogue, all actors wear masks, and the story progresses through miming and physical movement.
Bringing these unique and interdisciplinary performances to BYU has come due to the efforts of CFAC faculty and other employees. For example, Martin has travelled across the globe to attend festivals and network with agents, and he is excited for how these productions will enrich BYU’s theatrical offerings.
“The faculty members know that the CFAC will benefit from OFF THE MAP, but we also feel that all other BYU students and the local community will appreciate these unique and unconventional productions,” Martin said.