© Nikola Milatovic
La Strada 2016 was a great summer festival full of passion and poetry.
“We can all make good use of something that once again lets us look out over the roofs of the city and opens up the space as far as the heavens” commented Artistic Director Werner Schrempf regarding La Strada. The resounding degree of success with which that was achieved through this year’s festival was something that thousands were able to experience at the grand finale in Freiheitsplatz square and indeed prior to that. It was there that, last Saturday, Compagnie Transe Express enchanted their audience with a poetic performance and magical moments that will, in all likelihood, count for many among their most wonderful experiences of the summer of 2016.
Yet this was far from being the only moment of these past days that reached and opened up people’s hearts and minds. The entire city was filled with music. There was dancing, laughter, singing and embracing as audience favourite Murmuyo went out in search of new friends. Those attending held one another tightly in order to pull together so that the Spanish artiste Joan Català could climb a Styrian oak tree. In the middle of town. More than 1000 people followed the spookily beautiful figures portrayed by Rara Woulib on night-time walks into the unknown, then to sit at table to eat and drink together, make new acquaintances, engage in conversation and share one of these moments that are unexpectedly moving and allow new bonds to be created. Bonds that, in the wonderfully sparkling circus production by Cheptel Aleikoum in Augarten park, found expression in a unique manner and demonstrated that human cohesion doesn’t have to constitute some form of Utopia.
Onlookers were enthralled by their collective experience of the city, by their at once delightful and yet challenging interaction with the grander themes of our times. Thousands of spectators excitedly watched the façade of the Universalmuseum in the Joanneumsviertel area, where that climber of façades, Antoine le Menestrel, staged his courageous and risky performance about consumption and freedom. Over the six evenings of almost completely sold out performances at Graz Opera House with its performances of “Limits”, Swedish Cirkus Cirkör provoked both amazement and reflection among audiences. As was also the case with the multi-media production “Final Season” by that young artist from Graz, Lisa Horvath, in which the Graz-Reininghaus area mutated into a tent encampment.
More than 100,000 people together experienced 29 productions with 120 performances in Graz, Stainz, Weiz and at Schloss Seggau. And as every year, “after La Strada is before La Strada” – in 2017 the festival will celebrate its 20th birthday – with international artistes and domestic proprietary and co-productions that will be created in the coming months through endeavours including artistic residences. And all involving Graz audiences of course, who, over preceding years, have made La Strada what it is today. “Life only gets exciting when you’re prepared to take a risk, when you know that you have to pass trust on. And I believe we’ve managed to get people to want to share that very risk with us”, stated Artistic Director Werner Schrempf. “Because a festival can, indeed La Strada wants to, help to shape public space by showing how and for what purpose streets, squares and spaces can be used.”
So next summer for the 20th time – from July 28th till August 5th, 2017.