2005_07_artsice.jpgInteresting assortments of shows just keep opening. At this rate, theatre-lovers will be worn out and sick of novelty onstage by the time the Fringe Festival steamrolls into town…nah. Gothamist hopes people took last week’s advice and went to the Ice Factory festival in SoHo to see Fathom, SaBooge Theatre’s mesmerizing tale of English devils in Tasmania. Too bad for those who didn’t, but you can catch this week’s offering, courtesy of Sponsored by Nobody: The Position, a satire that features six guys waiting for their interview at a big corporation.

The Ice Factory, in its twelfth year, is ancient. But just a little ways away is a brand spanking new festival at Jean Cocteau Rep’s Bouwerie Lane Theatre. The Off-Off-Bowery Festival (kind of a misnomer, since the building actually is right on the Bowery, but whatever) begins today and runs for three weeks, presenting five small young companies in plays new and old. The first is Francisco Solorzano’s Kingdom Come, which is showing for just 2 days (Tues.-Wed.); then there’s Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi for three nights, and an interesting spin on the timed-theatre concept, Fighting the Clock, which consists of 5 short plays that revolve around fight scenes and were created in just 48 hours. The final two plays return the Jean Cocteau Rep’s home to its usual stately calm – Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (set in pioneer-era Wyoming) and Othello. Sounds like a promising start for a young festival.

2005_07_arts_basictraining.jpg Another new festival is working as a sort of feeder to a relatively old one. Edinburgh’s fringe fest, the granddaddy of them all, has sent some intriguing European things our way in recent years, but lots of American companies head to Scotland each year to match themselves up against the best and most bizarre. Now that the Brits Off Broadway festival has closed, another catchily titled compilation is on at the 59E59 theatres, this one to take a look at our end of the cross-Atlantic exchange. East to Edinburgh is giving 15 companies who are going to the 2005 Edinburgh Fringe a chance to present their stuff one last time in the States. The array is eclectic; the first three shows are one-person productions, with Bradford Louryk as America’s first famous transsexual in Christine Jorgensen Reveals, Ines Wurth in I Miss Communism, and Kahlil Ashanti in Basic Training, about life in the Air Force. Over the next three weeks the lineup will be just as wide-ranging, so you should definitely go have a look and help send the companies off with a bang.

When someone says “cross-Atlantic exchange” in the context of theatre, it’s usually assumed to mean a British-American thing; London’s West End is as influential on Broadway as Edinburgh is on off-Broadway, probably more so. It’s a shame we don’t see more international fare, but the French Institute is doing its part to show people what’s happening on stage in a non-English-speaking country with Act French, which over the next six months will host a variety of French performances. The first is actually also part of the Lincoln Center Festival, and is being presented outside in Damrosch Park: La Dernier Caravanserail (Odysseys), a seven-hour epic (well, two 6-hour parts with a dinner break; you can choose to go to just one part) that presents the real stories of Afghan, Kurdish and Iranian refugees. It’s directed by Ariane Mnouchkine, the “doyenne of the European theater avant-garde” as the Times called her; next Tuesday she will be the center of a symposium entitled “Does Art Matter?”, and next week at the Performing Arts library there will be a screening of her film Moliere. There will be more shows in Act French but not until the end of September, so stay tuned.

Details: The Position is showing at the Ohio Theatre, 66 Wooster, Wed.-Sat. at 7pm. Tickets via smarttix.
The Off-Off-Bowery Festival starts today with Kingdom Come, which shows tonight and tomorrow at 8pm. Corpus Christi is on next Mon. through Wed. at 8pm. See the Jean Cocteau Rep site for the full schedule and links to tickets at Theatermania.
East to Edinburgh starts today with I Miss Communism and Basic Training both at 7pm and Christine Jorgensen Reveals at 9pm. See the show’s website for the full schedule.
La Dernier Caravanserail opens on Sunday at 3pm, when you can see the whole cycle. Only the first part is showing the following Mon., and only the second part next Tues.; the last performance is July 31. The symposium with Ariane Mnouchkine is free, with tickets first-come, first-served – get them in the Rose Building starting at 4:30pm.