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Festval: A Celebration Of The Arts : Welcome To Festival

August 16, 1987|Barbara Isenberg

On the evening of Thursday, Sept. 3, beneath a Big Top in Little Tokyo, ringmaster Michel Barette will launch the first Los Angeles Festival. Quebec's highly regarded Le Cirque du Soleil kicks off 25 days of performances by dance troupes from Tokyo and Paris, theater companies from Stockholm and Johannesburg, opera, jazz and performance artists.

Today's Festival magazine begins Times coverage of September's arts marathon. From Johannesburg, correspondent Michael Parks examines the political context in South Africa that produces a playwright such as Percy Mtwa, and a play like "Bopha!" Toronto correspondent Kenneth Freed previews the Circus of the Sun, while Broadway producer--and circus executive--Elizabeth I. McCann philosophizes on the growing similarities between the theater and the circus.

Music critic Martin Bernheimer explores the opera world's current infatuation with stage directors. Theater critic Dan Sullivan traces the peripatetic ways of touring theater companies, and theater writer Sylvie Drake interviews director Peter Brook, working in Paris, about his monumental, nine-hour "Mahabharata."

Dance writer Lewis Segal offers background on the varied international fare due here next month. And composer John Cage, whose birthday will be celebrated during a week of concerts and other events, has his say about turning 75.

In coming weeks, Times critics, reporters and foreign correspondents will continue to highlight and illuminate all this activity. Arts editor Charles Champlin will report on legendary film maker Ingmar Bergman's long-time commitment to theater, for example. Bergman makes his U.S. theatrical debut at the festival directing Stockholm's Royal Dramatic Theatre production of Strindberg's "Miss Julie." Tokyo correspondent Sam Jameson will profile choreographer Natsu Nakajima, a pioneer of avant-garde Japanese dance.

The Times will similarly provide coverage of the Fringe Festival/Los Angeles with its 325 artists and theater, dance, film, and other troupes set to fill local stages, parks, galleries and other spaces at the same time as the festival. Among our plans: a report from Allen Wright, arts editor of the Scotsman in Edinburgh, on what happens in that city during its Festival Fringe each summer.

Carved from the rib of the successful 1984 Olympic Arts Festival, this year's festival brings 37 events to Los Angeles. Given the 400 fringe performances planned for everywhere from Orange County to Malibu, September is clearly the month to stay in town.

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