While you can’t make it to Edinburgh or Spoleto for these renowned art festivals, San Francisco can offer a taste of international culture in its own art showcase.
The annual San Francisco International Arts Festival has offered a dizzying array of performances for nearly two decades. From October 20 to 24, the festival offers three days of online content and a weekend of live performances in Fort Mason. Despite the wide range of tastes of the public, everyone is sure to find a number of artists who inspire them.
In 2020, when the pandemic canceled most live performances around the world, the SFIAF was forced to cut its usual three-week length, but still managed to produce two days with 15 ensembles on stage in three. outdoor locations while following strict COVID protocols.
Now that theaters and concert halls are reopening everywhere, SFIAF is back with more lineup than last season. His dance offerings include styles ranging from East Indian Kathak and Bharatanatyam to modern and contemporary, to hip-hop and Brazilian capoeira.
The musical contingent is even larger – New Orleans big band, Filipino guitar, Argentine tango, Latin American, jazz, Dixieland, Balkan, Indonesian gamelan with guitar, international folk music and classical chamber music and opera.
The theater and performing arts categories feature a play in Russian translated into English, a Balinese wayang (shadow puppets), a solo performance exploring race and color, and a moving sculptural plea to protect wildlife.
Because international travel restrictions prevented the Russia-based Pop-Up Theater from coming, its director, Semion Aleksandrovskiy had to find another way to present his first US production of âYYaD.FHRMCMAal.oHâ. These cryptic English letters are a translation of what Tolstoy had scrawled in chalk on a card table for Sophia Bers, his wife who was 16 years younger. The initial letters mean “Your youth and the need for happiness are a cruel reminder of my old age and the impossibility of happiness.”
As with so many aspects of life these days, the problem was solved via Zoom. With the help of Bay Area Shotgun Players Megan Trout and Caleb Cabrera, rehearsals were conducted online to recreate this site-specific play that will be performed in the Great Meadow at Fort Mason.
Festival Artistic Director Andrew Wood also commissioned songwriter and singer Michelle Jacques to create a work called “Daughters of the Delta,” about important but often forgotten women composers and conductors in Louisiana. Their contemporary accounts retrace the phenomenon of the Great Migration of Blacks from the South to the North and West, in several waves from 1910 to 1970. The influence of the music, art and writing of these migrants is still felt today. Although the last “Daughters” will not be presented until 2022, Jacques will present clips with his group CHELLE & Friends on October 24th.
Wood said outdoor events would be moved indoors if it rains.
As the future unfolds, with all of the potential complications surrounding SFIAF’s ability to attract international artists, we, the residents of the Bay Area, are fortunate to have a wealth of artistic talent living here. and can provide insight into many other cultures around the world.
INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL DES ARTS SF
When: October 20-24
Or: Young Performers Theater (interior) and exterior stages in Fort Mason, Bay and Laguna Streets, San Francisco; outdoor events will be moved indoors in case of rain; some shows offered online
Tickets: Individual performances $ 12- $ 49; festival passes range from 2 to 8 events, from $ 36 to $ 135; www.sfiaf.org