Tuesday, July 22, 2014

More about the Between the Seas Festival 2014, now underway in the East Village

Between the Seas, the only festival in New York celebrating Mediterranean performance, has returned to the Wild Project on East Third Street for its fourth year.

This year's highlights include a world premiere adaptation of Chuck Mee's "Matisse's Self Portrait"; new work by the choreographer Nejla Yatkin, and the return of Balletto di Sardegna with dance inspired by designer Elsa Schiaparelli.

In addition, Between the Seas is debuting a new program, 4x4, a series of staged readings that pair American directors and actors with Mediterranean playwrights.

Aktina Stathaki, the artistic and producing director of Between the Seas, answered a few questions for us about the festival.

This is the fourth year for Between the Seas. How did the event initially finds its way to the East Village?

When the idea of launching this festival started taking shape I lived on East 9th Street. The East Village felt like a very natural environment for a grassroots, international festival like Between the Seas. I started looking for spaces and one day I just walked past the Wild Project. So I decided to go in and check it out. I instantly loved the space and the staff was so helpful and supportive.

Even though I continued looking for spaces in other neighborhoods there was this little voice that was telling me that I should do it at the Wild Project. And I am so happy I followed my gut feeling — now the Wild Project has become a home to us and we have a great working relationship with them.

Does the East Village seem like a good home for this event?

The East Village is the ideal home for this event. Every year I am more convinced about it. There's a thriving theater community and a curious, generous audience. It's wonderful to be part of this community.

It also fits very much our international character — there are so many different nationalities living or hanging out in the East Village ... so we and our artists feel very much like we belong there.

As we grow we start partnering with businesses in the neighborhood – this year we're partnering with Contrada and Lumiere, two great restaurants who are very keen in supporting the arts. So this makes us feel even more rooted in the neighborhood.

How have you seen the festival expand these past four years?

Year after year I feel that we are cultivating and growing our audience and artistic community. People get to know what we do and trust us – they will return from one year to the next, or they will return to see more shows during the course of the festival week.

Same with the artists — they trust us with their work because despite the difficulties of producing in the city we try to make sure to respect them, to offer the best possible conditions for production and create a compelling program that will do justice to their work but also to the region we want to represent.

It is also great to see that after three years of production, organizations in New York start to show us their support and that is truly essential for our growth: this year we were accepted as a member at Alliance of Resident Theaters in NYC, who's doing an incredible work for artists; and we received our first grant from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, which has been so empowering in enabling us to do new programming and giving us confidence to continue our work.

What can first-time festival-goers expect?

They can expect a great, interesting programming and a vibrant, fun and laid-back setting. We welcome everyone. We try to engage into dicussion ... and we want everyone to come and have a great time, meet new people, learn something about the region, come out with more questions and curiosity about the artists and the works. We believe in community. We want our audiences to feel like an important part of our growing community.

We know how hard it is to get audiences in the city with all the great art that is happening so we really value our audience's presence ... and we try to offer them something innovative and compelling.

You can find more details and tickets here. The festival runs through Sunday.

1 comment:

marjorie said...

Very cool. (Google Translate decided to translate "Elsa," the name of the Schiaparelli program, as "Hilt," which sounds like some kind of pirate musical.)