Feature in Issue 10-3 | Autumn 1998

You only have to look at this year's British Festival of Visual Theatre (BFVT) brochure to see that the number of companies devising non-text based work continues to grow. It's a positive indication of how far the sector has come in the years since Mime Action Group was formed in 1984 to lobby for increased recognition of the artform. This Autumn you can see nearly seventy shows across nine London venues in the BFVT.

It's encouraging that devised physical work is succeeding at last to attract large audiences. At the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this summer the Russian company Derevo were one of the hottest tickets. The Right Size are also currently enjoying huge critical acclaim. After ten years touring the small-scale circuit, they have finally followed in Theatre de Complicite's footsteps and crossed over to the middle-scale. Their current show runs at the Almeida Theatre in London this month. It's great to see companies who have long been making ‘physical theatre' finally achieving cross-over appeal. Particularly because it's a measure of how far the 'establishment' has broadened its horizons in pursuit of theatrical innovation.

One practitioner who is no stranger to working outside the mainstream is Eugenio Barba, interviewed in this issue by Carran Waterfield. That Odin Teatret has forged such strong links with the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry should come as no surprise, given their commitment to working on the margins. It can be easy to forget how much excellent work is being generated outside London. In a separate article, Jo Trowsdale profiles the work of a collection of companies in Coventry and demonstrates how, by cooperating to form a united front, they have created substantial opportunities for themselves with in the city.

Finally, watch out for visions 98, the bi-annual festival of international animated theatre this autumn. There is a growing interest in object animation, puppetry and mask amongst contemporary theatre practitioners, and visions 98 programmes some of the most interesting international work. To continue the theme, Total Theatre is hosting its fourth Critical Practice Debate on Animation: Object, Puppetry, Mask, Body at BAC, London on Saturday 24 October. See you there.

This article in the magazine

Issue 10-3
p. 3