Temporada Alta 25 years young

The performing arts festival celebrates its 25th edition with the best of international and Catalan drama

Having kicked off on September 30, Temporada Alta will run through to December 4
A key role of the festival is bringing Catalan and international artists together

Temporada Alta celebrates its silver anniversary this year with 100 performances that show the festival is staying true to its roots: a commitment to being a meeting point for international theatre and to strengthening the relationship with audiences, both old and new. After kicking off on September 30, Temporada Alta will run through to December 4, confirming it status as Catalonia's foremost autumn festival and introducing new work that will go on to appear in venues in Barcelona and around Catalonia during the rest of the season.

Temporada Alta is a major showcase for domestic productions (61 of the shows are Catalan) but also for great European talent, such as Krystian Lupa, Peter Brook, Alain Platel and Thomas Ostermeier. The festival is also a place to get to know the latest in contemporary theatre, with the likes of Milo Rau, Mauricio Kartun, Fabrice Murgia, Sergio Blanco and Nicolas Stemann, among others.

One of Temporada Alta's key roles is promoting productions that bring Catalan and international artists together. A good example is the production Davant la jubilació (Vor dem Ruhestand) by Austrian playwright Thomas Bernhard, directed by Lupa and starring Mercè Arànega, Pep Cruz and Marta Angelat. Another example is the score of young Catalan actors that make up La Gran Troupe, in Si au Si, a co-production with the Philippe Genty company.

The big attractions are the premieres that will go on to be shown in Catalonia. The inaugural show is one example, In memoriam (La quinta del biberó) with Lluís Pasqual, as is Josep Maria Miró's new work, Who is me, from the Cúbit company. Meanwhile, Pasolini, Àlex Rigola's new project, and the monologue Un obús al cor by Mouawad, with direction by Broggi and Utzet, also fall into this category.

The festival will also offer shows for a larger public, such as the premiere of the Catalan play Art, as well as other works that received a good public and critical reception last season, such as Acorar, Non solum with Sergi López, Yo, Carmen by María Pagés, the musical El petit príncep by Manu Guix and Àngel Llàcer, Terra Baixa with Lluís Homar and Brian Friel's Dansa d'agost. At the same time, the inclusion in the 6th Torneig de Dramatúrgia of such pieces as Pares nostres, L'home sense veu or Pluja, shows the vitality of young Catalan authors.

In his presentation, festival director Salvador Sunyer did not mention any special event to celebrate 25 years. With a marathon announced last year by Propeller falling through due to the dissolution of the British company, the festival has focused on continuing to do what it has always done best. Nevertheless, there are some less visible special events, such as the festival's links with schools through La llavor del foc, to be performed in classrooms in Girona and Salt. Another example is the project for artists to give classes in the performing arts in schools for free.

The festival is also keeping its programmers' week. At the end of November, a hundred programmers will meet to promote future international coproductions, an aspect Temporada Alta aspires to specialise in. Long-term attendee Guy Cassiers is one of the highlights, with Las benévolas, a coproduction with six theatres, festivals and institutions that are part of The Littell project, funded by the EU.

From four to a hundred shows

There are three clear stages in the evolution of the Temporada Alta festival: its beginning (1992-2001), its consolidation in Catalonia (2002-2008) and its internationalisation (2009 to today). If the first edition had only four shows, this year there are 100 that embrace the spectrum of the performing arts. In the past 25 years the festival has also grown in influence, today overseeing initiatives across the province of Girona and even in Sant Cugat del Vallès. In terms of numbers, there have been a total of 1,302 shows programmed in a quarter of a century, and not counting this year's audiences, has put on performances for 623,076 spectators. Some 446 of all the shows have been international (360 of which have been premieres). About half of the domestic productions shown (668) in 25 years were also seen for the first time in the stage arts festival.

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