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Press Release

Contact:
Eric Sloss
412-268-5765

For immediate release:
October 4, 2004

Carnegie Mellon School of Drama Teams with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust To Create the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts

PITTSBURGH—Staff and students in the School of Drama at Carnegie Mellon University are producing the inaugural Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts, a unique multidisciplinary performance festival sponsored by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust October 8 - 24, 2004.

The festival will bring many exciting international performance companies to the United States for the first time. The production of this event will not only serve as invaluable hands-on training for Carnegie Mellon students, but will also bring educational opportunities and artistic enrichment to the entire city. Elizabeth Bradley, head of the School of Drama, is serving as the festival's artistic director.

"Carnegie Mellon University is a natural partner in the development and programming of the Festival, and Elizabeth Bradley's expertise and creative background lend themselves well to curating this dynamic array of performances," said J. Kevin McMahon, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. "Collaborating with our city's fine academic institutions is what contributes to making Pittsburgh such an attractive region to arts presenters and enthusiasts."

Meanwhile, the School of Drama recently established the International Artists Residency Program, which will make it possible for drama students to develop new and distinctive forms of artistic expression with the help of acclaimed performers from around the world. England's physical theatre company, Theatre O, will be the first international company in residence at the Drama School. They are spending four weeks working with students at the school before beginning a week of performances at the festival.

The festival theater groups will also host public workshops and panel discussions related to the festival. Cesc Gelabert, for example, is scheduled to teach at the Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA). The Carnegie Mellon staff also has prepared programming in which artists from the Carnegie International and Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts artists can interact with the public (see schedule below media release).

The festival's leadership includes Carnegie Mellon students like Carlos Armesto, a third-year student in the graduate directing program who is the artistic programming associate for the festival. "The experience of working on the festival has been invaluable in my development as a stage director and producer. Not only have I been exposed to and inspired by the work of more than 60 of the most innovative companies around the world, but I have also learned about the intricacies of producing an international event," Armesto said.

Corey Cope, a 2003 graduate of the School of Drama, has joined the festival team as production operations consultant and site coordinator for Theatre Titanick, an ambitious outdoor event. "We've hired a number of Carnegie Mellon drama students to assist on the production management of each show. This will be a great opportunity for students to experience international productions," Cope said.

Avery White, who graduated from the School of Drama in May 2004, is the overall production manager of the festival. "The School of Drama trains students as professionals, so the transition from the university setting into a professional setting was an easy one for me," White said.

"As a stage manager at Carnegie Mellon, I learned how to negotiate and how to communicate with everyone involved in the productions. These experiences helped me work well with the festival's international production teams."

The Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts was founded to celebrate international performing artists dedicated to discovering and exploring new means of arts expression, and the connectivity with their counterparts in the visual art world. Conceived to complement the Carnegie International visual art exhibition, the festival features seven acclaimed international companies in nine American premieres.

"The creation of the inaugural Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts is the culmination of a remarkable vision for the city of Pittsburgh emanating from the Trust, namely; a festival of highly visual work from around the world that showcases exciting emerging multidisciplinary performance to complement the mission of the Carnegie International. This is a bold initiative that capitalizes on a creative synergy unique to Pittsburgh," Bradley said.

Festival events will occur at traditional and non-traditional performance sites throughout Pittsburgh, including two barges on the Allegheny River. This landmark event, set at the junction of the city's three rivers, capitalizes on Pittsburgh's extraordinary geography. The festival also will feature troupes from the following countries: Japan (Pappa Tarahumara), Russia (Akhe Group), United Kingdom (Theatre O & lone twin), Spain (GELABERT-AZZOPARDI companyia de dansa) and Poland (Teatr Rozmaitosci).

Founded in 1914, The Carnegie Mellon School of Drama is a pre-professional conservatory program educating young theatre artists. The school is committed to ongoing progressive engagement with all forms of theatre and seeks to inspire students to create signature work in their chosen area of endeavor. It celebrates unique voices from diverse cultures and aims to foster curiosity about the fusion between other art forms and current theatre practice, including exploring the storytelling potential of the new technologies. The School of Drama continues to build upon a legacy of demonstrated excellence that, along with the achievements of its alumni, contributes significantly to the national and international prominence of Carnegie Mellon University and the Pittsburgh community.

For the outreach event schedule, see below. For the performance schedule and ticket prices of the Festival, visit www.pgharts.org/PIFOF/index.html. For more information about the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama or the College of Fine Arts, contact Eric Sloss at 412-268-5765 or email ecs@andrew.cmu.edu.

Founded in 1984, The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a nonprofit organization whose mission is the cultural and economic development of Pittsburgh's Cultural District through public and private partnerships. A leader in urban redevelopment through the arts, the Trust encourages diverse performing and visual arts programs within the District and is an impetus for additional development in the District's 14-square-block area. The Trust owns and operates the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts; Byham, O'Reilly and Harris theaters; Wood Street Galleries; SPACE, a visual arts gallery at 812 Liberty Avenue; and 937 Liberty, a multipurpose performance and exhibit space, among other downtown arts facilities. For more information on the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, contact Veronica Corpuz at 412-471-6082 or corpuz@pgharts.org. The Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts is supported by the Richard King Mellon Foundation, The Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts
Audience and educational outreach events

September 13 - October 8
Theatre O Residency
(Open to Carnegie Mellon Drama students only)
Location: Carnegie Mellon University

Friday, October 8, 5 - 6 p.m.
The Festival in Context
Noted leaders in the contemporary arts will introduce the themes of the festival and explore the ways in which artists from both the visual and performing arts are creating new expressive vocabularies. The artists will explain the way in which their explanation informs evolving creativity in other disciplines.
Open to the public.
Venue: Warhol Museum

Thursday, October 7 - Sunday, October 10, noon - 9 p.m.
The Art of André Böhme
Visitors can view the raw and unusual artwork of Theater Titanick's renowned object designer André Böhme.
Venue: 707 Penn Avenue Gallery

Friday, October 8, 9:45 p.m.
Pappa Tarahumara post-show Question-Answer
Artistic Director and collaborators of Pappa Tarahumara will answer audience questions
Venue: Byham Theater

Saturday, October 9, noon
Artist Encounter with Theatre Titanick and Pappa Tarahumara
Open to the public.
Venue: Warhol Museum

Saturday, October 9, 2:30 - 4:30 p.m.
Workshop with Pappa Tarahumara
Movement and technology workshop with artistic director of Pappa Tarahumara.
Private event: Local students only.
Venue: Benedum Center, Studio B

Saturday, October 9, 5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Theatre Titanick On-Site Demonstration
Artistic director and object designer of Theatre Titanick will give a talk to an audience on the site of performance, weather permitting.
Open to the public.
Venue: North Shore River Front Park

Saturday, October 9, 9:45 p.m.
Pappa Tarahumara post-show Question-Answer
Artistic director and collaborators of Pappa Tarahumara answer audience questions.
Venue: Byham Theater

Tuesday, October 12, 10:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Theatre Titanick workshop/lecture
Lecture and demonstration with directors, designers, production managers and technologists of Theatre Titanick.
Venue: Carnegie Mellon's Philip Chosky Theatre

Tuesday, October 12, 1 - 4 p.m.
Clair Howells "Bouffon" Workshop
Private event.
Venue: Carnegie Mellon movement studios

Thursday October 14, 1 - 3:30 p.m.
Cesc Gelabert Workshop
Movement workshop by Cesc Gelabert.
Private event: Carnegie Mellon and CAPA students.
Venue: Benedum Center, Studio B

Saturday, October 16, noon - 2 p.m.
Artist Encounter with Cesc Gelabert, Lydia Azzopardi and other artists
Open to the public.
Venue: Warhol Museum

Saturday, October 23, 3 - 5 p.m.
Akhe Group lecture-demonstration
Private event: Carnegie Mellon students only.
Venue: Carnegie Mellon's Philip Chosky Theatre

Sunday, October 24, 7 - 8:30 p.m.
The Festival in Context - Closing Event
Tom Sokolowski, director of the Warhol Museum, and Elizabeth Bradley, head of Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, will have a dialogue in which they conclude the journey and give further insight into the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts.
Open to the public.
Venue: Warhol Museum

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