The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Archive Index Home
Apr. 25, 2016
Presenter  Topics
Leading presenter of cutting-edge theater, the biennial London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT) opens (June 2 – July 2, 2016)
London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT) was founded with the aim of bringing the world to London and showing London to the world, a today it is known as one of the UK’s leading festivals presenting programs of progressive and experimental works. Since 2009, the festival’s artistic director is Mark Ball, a presenter well known as the founder of Manchester’s “Fierce!” festival of experimental live art. Having originally majored in international politics at university, Ball has turned the focus of the festival’s programming even more strongly in favor of works with political orientation.
The theme of the 2016 LIFT festival is immigration, community and refugee crisis. Many of the theater works on the program deal with conditions in Europe today as the continent faces what is now being called the largest diaspora crisis since World War II. In particular, the 2016 festival feature a mini-program titled “On the Move” that has been organized around this subject in collaboration with the Royal Court Theatre. This program will present installations, film/video works and performances by artists from Germany, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Syria and the UK from June 2 to 11. Also, the Germany-based choreographer Constanza Macras presents a work titled Open For Everything, exploring the subject of the Roma ethnic group that has long been connected with migration. In a work titled Late Night, Greece’s blitz theatre group presents a poetic and emotive piece dealing with the question of what to do at night when your country is crumbling around you by day, all unfolding with the otherworldly feel of a David Lynch film and touches of humor.
In a joint production by Odéon–Théâtre de l’Europe, co-produced by LIFT and the Barbican Centre is Phaedra(s), an adaptation of Sarah Kane’s Phaedra’s Love by Polish director Krzysztof Warlikowski. This much anticipated production starts Isabelle Huppert. In the same period, Japan’s Miss Revolutionary Idol Berserker will give performances for two weeks of at the Barbican Centre’s small theatre, The Pit (Over-14 audience age limit). The festival’s closing will feature night performances on the roof of the Stratford by Israel-born choreographer Hofesh Shechter and a select group of talented choreographers and dancers from East London.

Festival Outline
After the 1980 launch of the London International Festival of Student Theatre by Rose Fenton and Lucy Neal, the 1st LIFT (London International Festival of Theatre) was held in 1981, gathering companies from Brazil, France, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, West Germany and the UK. Since then, it has been held every other year and by 2001 reached a scale where it had invited important works from more than 60 countries. In the process, LIFT has risen to become one of Europe’s largest international festivals, with an international perspective and programming that has presented extraordinary and innovative events in both conventional theatres and in more unusual urban spaces around London.
With the change of artistic directors to Australian producer Angharad Wynne-Jones in 2003, LIFT suspended its alternate-year schedule. With institutions like Southbank Centre, the Barbican, Sadler’s Wells and ICA then conducting international projects, LIFT shifted to a year-round program of research and relatively small-scale projects. Among its experimental projects has been construction of a movable space called The Lift for performances, discussions and the like.
Since Mark Ball assumed responsibility as artistic director in 2009, LIFT returned to its alternate year festival schedule in 2010 for the first time in nine years. The programs now being presented are unique in the majority of the works are not conventional theater but progressive site-specific works, experiential performance and works utilizing media communications, or works involving mentally, visually or aurally challenged performers and performances for children or teens. In 2012, the festival was held just before the London Olympic and Paralympic games and drew a total audience of 43,000.
+LIFT (London International Festival of Theatre)