Meanwhile, in the Rest of the World...

The best international theater New York still needs to see

Happily, some brave producers go undeterred. "Act French," last season's program of French productions and readings, brought Ariane Mnouchkine's emigration epic Le Dernier Caravansérail and introduced us to fresh dramatists like Koffi Kwahulé and Marie Ndiaye. At St. Ann's Warehouse, Susan Feldman has presented work by (among others) Grzegorz Jarzyna, the visually inventive young Polish director; she's pursuing his giant site-specific Macbeth for next year, at a roofless warehouse in DUMBO. New York Theatre Workshop is collaborating with Pollesch and Neumann to mount an American version of 24 Hours Are Not a Day, their witty and wild 2002 Volksbühne fantasia about globalization, 9/11, and postmodern identity. And Belgian director Ivo van Hove will return to NYTW this fall to create his version of Moliére's The Misanthrope.

Some of this past season's most thrilling foreign stuff got close, but not all the way to New York City. Jed Wheeler brought two ravishing productions by major visual directors to his Peak Performances series at Montclair State University: the Flemish master Jan Fabre's Je Suis Sang, a dance-theater bacchanal of violence and medieval bodies, and Romeo Castellucci's stark, painterly spectacle Tragedia Endogonidia (L.09). Both companies plan to return with other projects.

Toy-train enthusiasts meet the avant-garde: Rimini Protokoll's Mnemopark
photo: Lex Vögtli
Toy-train enthusiasts meet the avant-garde: Rimini Protokoll's Mnemopark

These are just a few of the world voices New York needs to hear more from, but no list is comprehensive. Drama always needs a steady supply of fresh ideas to propel it forward. Doubters need only think of the Moscow Art Theatre's 1922 tour, which introduced American audiences, artists, and critics to new acting forms. Had this legendary ensemble not visited, would anyone stateside have ever experienced Stanislavsky's visions in their fullest living dimensions—and assimilated what they saw? Foreign influences have altered the American theater's DNA at critical junctures. New York should make sure this is one of them.

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