"[Festi's] dream and his desire is that, under heaven and in our places of celebration, we can all be united," said Suzy Bassani, arts director and producer of the Colorado Festival of World Theatre, host of the Festi event. Bassani is a co-founder of the CFWT, along with actress Linda Purl and arts advocate/businesswoman Carol Sturman.
The Colorado Springs show will be the debut U.S. performance of Of Angels and Light and the first time in 20 years Festi has brought one of his productions to the United States.
Conceived and begun just last year, the Colorado Festival of World Theatre promises to be a showcase of global talent and a premier American festival for live theater. Long-range plans call for a network of small professional theaters in the Springs, Woodland Park and other towns hosting festival events. The festival's actual launch and grand inauguration will take place in summer of 2005; however, this year's mini-festival will serve as a prelude and a preview of future seasons.
"We will earn our reputation," said Purl, a veteran of television, film and Broadway. Purl's cabaret act (in the Starz Nightclub of Broadmoor West) will precede the U.S. debut of Festi's open-air extravaganza Of Angels and Light on July 14. Lucie Arnaz will perform in the nightclub venue the following evening. Other performances of the mini-festival include Oscar winner Eva Marie Saint and her husband Jeffrey Hayden reading "On the Divide: The Stories of Willa Cather" and Joseph Mydell, an Olivier Award-winning theater actor interpreting African-American poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar in Lyrics of the Hearthside. Phantom of the Opera star Davis Gains will perform a concert at a Western-style barbecue dinner in Woodland Park, which will also feature a preview of the 2005 Colorado Festival of World Theatre's program.
"What [the festival] will mean to the community is enhanced cultural diversity, economic development and quality of life," said CFWT chairman Jim Hayes. "It's just such a wonderful addition ... and it has remarkable benefits for our kids."
Purl emphasized the importance of educational outreach to the festival. "The theater has the capacity to create bridges in an increasingly fragmented world," she said. "It's an arena that speaks to the betterment of all cross-cultural relations."
The CFWT will offer programs for students of all ages, often at full scholarship, including dozens of apprenticeships and internships to provide hands-on work with professionals, as well as classes, seminars and panel discussions. Another component will be for teachers, training them to incorporate the performing arts into existing curricula.
"The mission of the CFWT is to bring the most exciting theater from all over the world, to bring other countries' theater here so that we can understand them [better]," said Bassani.
-- J.N. Nail
Of Angels and Light performed by Studio Festi
Wednesday, July 14, and Thursday, July 15, 9:30 p.m.
The Broadmoor Driving Range, 1 Lake Ave.
$25 (Bring blankets and lawn chairs)
For details on other festival performances, visit www.cfwt.org and click on About Festival. The links on the left column explain the performances.
Tickets available at Pikes Peak Center box office, 520-SHOW and at all Ticketmaster outlets