Last updated: February 22, 2010
Even with YouTube, Facebook, and the blogosphere, nothing beats live performance. For my first post of 2010, let's look forward to some exciting performing and viewing opportunities.
No one can get to it all, but festivals at least make it possible to see a lot of cool stuff in the same place in a small amount of time, attend workshops and seminars, and meet other practitioners in the field. Thus this post, the first draft of an attempt to provide a calendar and links to performance festivals where you're likely to see a fair amount of physical comedy: clown, mime, and circus festivals, of course, but also overlapping genres such as dance, movement theatre, and street performance.
I'm limiting myself to festivals because I just don't have the time to compile a list of individual shows by the hundreds (thousands?) of physical comedy performers out there doing great work. Hopefully I can manage a festival calendar... with your help. I will update this list as new info comes in, and will set up a prominent link to it in the sidebar to make it easy to check back for updates. You can help out by
e-mailing mewith any info you come across.
So here we go... just click on the links (festival name) for the latest info.
London International Mime Festival
January 13 – January 31
Started in 1977, it's now a bit of a misnomer to still call this a mime festival, given the wide variety of physical performance offered. Perhaps more accurate is this line from their web site: "Eye-popping visual theatre for the digital age."
34th International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo
January 14 – January 24
Monte Carlo, Monaco
I've never been, but this is the famous one. Maybe when I retire...
World Buskers Festival
January 21 — January 31
Christchurch, New Zealand
This year is the 17th and it advertises "44 of the world's best acts" performing no fewer than 450 amazing live shows. Seth Bloom writes me that it is "one of the best street theatre festivals in the world. Well organized, excellent acts, classic street — tall unicycles and straightjacket escape acts — as well as brilliant mime, physical comedy, bizarre stunts, and more 'artsy stuff'."
January 21—January 24
In its sixth year, this 4-day event showcases not just classic slapstick films, but some rare finds and some live performance. This year Michael Palin is a featured guest.
Western Australia Circus Festival
January 23 – January 25
Karridale, Western Australia
A jam-packed weekend of circus-related performance.
International Circus Festival of Budapest
January 21— January 25
In their eighth year, this festival presents two showcases comprising 30 acts from 17 different countries, plus a "non-competing exhibit show" of local performers.
Le Cirque de Demain
(Circus of Tomorrow)
January 28 — January 31
Also dating from 1977, this short festival brings together new and innovative circus acts from all over the world in two separate showcases.
International Festival of Live Art
March 2 —March 21
An avant-garde festival with tons of provocative stuff, including some physical work. You can download a pdf of the schedule
from their site.
Festival 'Pistes de Lancement' — 11e Edition
International Festival of Contemporary Circus
March 6 – March 21
City of Wings
April 3 — April 4
An international promotional festival for street theatre. Seth Bloom writes: "An agent festival in Belgium. You have to be accepted with work that is new and has not been seen in Belgium. They get nice crowds and hopefully agents like your work and they pick you up for summer festivals in Europe. We went in 2009 and got a few gigs out of it."
Toronto International Circus Festival
May 22 — May 24
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Here's a festival with a message: Make an IMPACT! Speak your mind, move your body; explore how you can harness your impact on the world. An exploration of the impact made through creative expression and invention; best highlighted by the visual and physical impact of the TORONTO INTERNATIONAL CIRCUS FESTIVAL!
Chuncheon International Mime Festival
May 23 – May 30
Chuncheon, South Korea
This one began as the Korea Mime Festival in 1989.
Toronto Festival of Clowns
June 3 — June 6
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
"The Toronto Festival of Clowns aims to bring together clowns and physical theatre artists of all disciplines and backgrounds and provide a common space to showcase their work. Now entering our 5th year, the festival continues to encourage the risk and exploration of the clown, hosting new and established works that inspire and delight." I'm not finding any information yet on their web site, but they have a Facebook group, and you can e-mail them at:
Artisti in Piazza
International Buskers Festival
June 17 — June 20
Pennabilli, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
A four-day festival in a beautiful medieval town, now entering its 14th year: "Street art (in this case art has the medieval meaning of skill) is an ancient deep-rooted practice. Street art was a custom in the past but in Italy with a fascist law this cultural practice was considered begging ’till some years ago. In 1997 the municipality of Pennabilli (following other italian cities: e.g. Certaldo, Colmurano, San Giovanni in Persiceto) decided to issue regulations on purpose and to allow street performing. Since 1999, roadsigns at the entrances of the town welcome artists and remember this friendly permission."
Festival d'Avignon Off
July 7 — July 27
They've been doing the Avignon festival for an incredible 64 years, and it's huge. The mainstage portion is the "In Festival" and the fringe is the "Off Festival." All kinds of performance, with tons of listings for clown, circus, and mime.
Arlington, Virginia, USA
Begun in 2003, this four-day film festival features screenings of rarely-seen movies from the silent and early sound era, with a focus on physical humor.
Festival Transnational des Artistes de la Rue
July 21 — July 25
The French government actively supports live performance, to the great benefit of circus and street art. In fact, this street art festival is already in its 23rd year. Click here for a lot of videos from the 2009 festival.
Olala: Strassentheater Festival Lienz
2009 dates were: July 28 — August 2
This street festival's 18 years old. I visited for a few days in 2007 when Drew Richardson and Avner Eisenberg were both performing there and had a great time. Tons of performance, much of it geared toward physical comedy, and the town (not to be confused with the large Austrian city of Linz) is charming, nestled in a breathtaking Alpine valley. Take the ski lift to the top and hike amongst the cows!
Mimos, Festival de Mime
August 2 — August 8
This festival has been going on since 1982 (I attended in 1990), and offers a wide variety of movement theatre, as well as workshops.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe
August 6 — August 30
This self-proclaimed largest arts festival in the world has all kinds of stuff, but with 2009 featuring 34,265 performances of over 2,200 shows in 256 different venues you're bound to find some physical comedy, right?
New York Clown-Theatre Festival
September 3 – September 26
Brick Theatre, Brooklyn, NY, USA
This will make four out of five years that the Brick Theatre in the persons of Robert Honeywell, Eric Davis, Audrey Crabtree and gang, have been staging this very welcome event in Williamsburg. Count on three weeks of shows from all over the world, plus forums, workshops, and more. Here's their recent press release:
New York Clown Theatre Festival is an annual celebration of the art of clown. Every fall the Brick Theatre presents the very best of clown performance from around the globe as well as hosting classes and workshops by world-renowned teachers. We host a bevy of outrageous events, including a massive pie fight, clown parade, and a clown funeral. The festival enters its 5th year this fall. We look for full shows, cabaret pieces and shorter (20-minute) pieces, and film. We do a mix of new and established work and focus on presenting a wide range of clown-theatre and building our international community. Last year we scaled the festival back to "Amuse Bouche," a small number of invited shows and will stick with this format every other year. We are gearing up for the full-scale festival September 3-26th, 2010. Let the application process begin! You can find information on the space, details about requirements, and the online application here: http://www.bricktheater.com/
Tàrrega, Catalonia, Spain
September 9 — September 12
"FiraTàrrega is the international performing arts market held annually in Tàrrega. Founded in 1981, FiraTàrrega is a showcase for professional performing proposals that are mainly addressed at the agents who take part in production and buying as well as the large audiences who give it its festive and spontaneous character."
Out There — International Festival of Street Arts and Circus
Great Yarmouth, UK
September 17—September 19
Last year's free festival showcased more than 30 professional acts, 90 performances and 600 performers.
Circo Circolo Circus Theatre Festival
October 15 — October 24 Liempde. Netherlands
"Circo Circolo is the festival in the Netherlands for Circus theatre, or in other words the New Circus.... the crossover between present-day theatre, dance, music, acrobatics and design."
Wuqiao International Circus Festival
Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, China
2009 dates: October 31 — November 8
This is a competitive festival with over thirty acts from all over the world competing for top honors. It began in 1987 and it looks like it only happens in the odd-numbered years, but I include it here in case anyone wants to check it out for 2011. You can see videos of past winning acts here.
Cornella International Clown Festival
November 19 — November 28
"Born to pay homage to the Catalonian clown, Charlie Rivel, its main purpose is to demonstrate to the public the wide possibilities of a clown’s language : from the traditional circus clowns to the newest and most "experimental" shows, while also offering street performances." Alex Navarro, festival co-director, writes "I'm now looking at programming the festival and I'd like to receive DVDs of full shows for the theatre. The shows must be without words or if you speak must be a little and with the possibility to do it in Catalan or Spanish. Also I'm interested in videos of clown numbers for a circus ring. At least 2 entrances between 7 and 10 minutes (15 minutes between both entrances). If you have videos online, please send me the links." You can reach him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Clownfrauen / Clownin' — International Women's Clown Festival
November 26th – December 4th
Co-produced by Theatre Supernova and Kosmos Theater since 2006. See Adam Gertsacov's Clownlink blog for more information.
And for all of 2010, Geneva, Switzerland is the International Capital of World Circus. Click here for their latest programming.
I keep adding more festivals on a regular basis. Please send me information on ones I don't know about!