This Nova is Super – Our writer finds delight amid the dross.
In the cultural catch-all that is the Edinburgh Fringe, some art forms inevitably get the short end of the stick. Theatre listings landed a whopping 66 of the 2004 programme’s 224 pages, while comedy grabbed 55. Dance and that nebulous entity called physical theatre make do with a mere six. The truth is that in a marginal field littered with half-baked uncertainties, silly irrelevancies and just plain junk, not much can claim lasting value. There are saving graces ... for lovers of international dance and largely text-free theatre the most adventurous Fringe programming, and the venue of choice, is Aurora Nova. Named after the Russian battleship that fired the first shot in the October Revolution, this festival-within-a-festival is located on the edge of New Town in the former St Stephen’s church. Few knew what to expect when Aurora Nova opened its doors in August 2001. A co-production between the Fabrik company of Potsdam and the Brighton venue Komedia, it has since become as key a Fringe player as the Traverse Theatre, the Pleasance or the Assembly Rooms. “We see Aurora Nova as colleagues,” says Joseph Seelig, co-director of the London International Mime Festival, “who have made visual theatre desirable, exciting and accessible in a festival overrun by comedians and commercial theatre.” Aurora Nova’s revolutionary approach grew from the experiences of its artistic director Wolfgang Hoffmann. “As a Fringe performer,” he says, “I had a hard time accepting the conditions that artists put themselves in. After my second Fringe I had a lot of suggestions to improve things, mainly through the creation of a more efficient, venue-identified co-operative where artists promote each other rather than just themselves.” With Komedia, Hoffmann found the potential for a hugely sympathetic partnership. Hoffmann describes his aesthetic criteria as “embarrassingly simple. I select work that I enjoy, by which I’m inspired, or which moves me. The hardest, but crucial, bit is to reject companies that don’t convince me.” For those who win Hoffmann’s favour, Aurora Nova functions in a communal spirit of shared risks and pooled resources. Artists find this a welcome antidote to the factory-like operations of bigger, supermarket-like venues...
Donald Hutera, The Times, August 2004
Aurora Nova – World Theatre Festival
This is what the Fringe is about – independent operators from Germany, Russia, Scotland and England pulling resources in order to dig deep into the corners of central east Europe (and further) to bring some of the most innovative acts to the Fringe. The venue is uniquely co-funded and marketed by all participating companies to ensure total fairness and equal exposure.
This year a new venue hosts much of the happenings, an impressively imposing baroque church in the heart of the New Town. Included in the “10 countries, 4 continents” line up this year is: 5 Russian avant-garde groups, and individual groups from Japan, Germany, Costa Rica and Sweden as well as England’s Komedia and Scotland’s Theatre Cryptic. A word to the wise – these are the folk responsible for introducing the incredible BlackSkyWhite to an incredulous public last year with the staggering, Bertrand’s Toys.
The Scotsman, June 2001