I like to think of New York as a pretty outward-looking city, but in matters of, say, theater, we can be pretty introspective. Fortunately, an upcoming festival at the Public Theater exists to remind us that there are creative, interesting things going on in theaters outside New York. The Under the Radar Festival (January 5 – January 16, 2011) highlights international artists with nearly two weeks of shows in eight venues throughout the city. This year’s festival features an eclectic assortment of acts from places like Belarus, South Africa, and France, and it’s worth taking in a performance or two to familiarize yourself with theater arts from beyond the five boroughs. Not surprisingly, I’m most interested in a troupe that’s made the long journey from Latvia to show us their stuff.
Show Your Face! (pictured), which will be performed at La Mama on Monday, January 10 and Tuesday, January 11, is actually a collaboration between avant-garde Slovene physical theater troupe Betontanc, Latvian object theater masters Umka.lv, and the Slovene pop-electronic group Silence, which features Latvian Uģis Vītiņš on saxophone and probably does make some sounds during the show. The story revolves around an empty snowsuit and utilizes puppetry and live music to tell a tale of darkness and hope. It’s won some awards and made a stop at the renowned Walker Art Center in Minneapolis on its way to New York, so it’s probably weird, coherent, and engaging in equal measure. I’ll be there.