LEAF is almost here — the festival’s 40th iteration runs Thursday-Sunday, May 7-10. In advance, Xpress is talking to performers about what they have planned and why being part of LEAF’s 20th anniversary is so special.
Performance art troupe Fox & Beggar Theatre makes its first appearance at LEAF this year. Founder Nat Allister talks about what the group will perform, both at the Black Mountain festival and at a production later this spring.
Mountain Xpress: What do you have planned for LEAF?
Nat Allister: We’ll be putting on [an approximately] 20-minute sneak peek of our upcoming production Tarocco: A Soldier’s Tale, on Friday and Saturday night.
Why is it important to you to perform at LEAF?
We’re excited to begin building a long-term relationship with LEAF, a festival most of us have loved and attended for years. Personally, I’ve always viewed LEAF as a concentrated microcosm of Asheville culture. All the diverse things that our town puts passion into throughout the year are represented, at least a little bit, on those festival grounds. The Fox & Beggar Theater is likeminded in its attempt to represent and bring together a wide variety of Asheville arts and fuse them into something very large and very beautiful. So teaming up with LEAF this year just seemed to make sense. We really love the crowds it consistently draws, and want to show them a sample of what they can expect to see three weeks later at The Orange Peel.
In what ways to you perform and engage an audience that is different at a festival versus in a theater?
Tarocco is an ultra-contemporary form of storytelling, and it can only be told in the proper venue. An audience member needs to be able to hear the Italian narration in a quiet theater, read the English subtitles on a bright screen in a dark room, and most importantly be able to pay attention from beginning to end. The story is a bit elusive. Difficult to digest. So of course, we won’t put as much effort into Tarocco‘s narrative at LEAF, but it will be a great way to test-run our fun visual bits like puppetry, stage magic and dance.
What acts are you most looking forward to seeing at LEAF?
Oh, there’s lots. Xavier [Rudd], of course. All the global-funk-fusion acts. LEAF loves its funk, which makes me happy.
Fox & Beggar Theatre performs on the Roots Family Stage on Friday and Saturday, 6:15-7 p.m.