This year the French Institute Alliance Française’s Crossing the Line festival will expand its mission of challenging artistic and geographical divisions by highlighting work that also troubles the boundaries between fact and fiction, self and other, past and present.
This updated focus comes from Courtney Geraghty, the festival’s new curator. “When I think about what lines need to be crossed in 2019, I don’t think they’re the same lines that needed to be crossed when the festival was founded 13 years ago,” she said in an interview. The battle to make artwork more interdisciplinary, she added as an example, “has more or less been won.”
For her inaugural season, Ms. Geraghty wanted to apply the festival’s transgressive ethos to new areas, including generational differences and some of the more basic concepts we use to order our world.
The director Cyril Teste’s “Opening Night,” which kicks off the season Sept. 12-14 at the French Institute Alliance Française’s Florence Gould Hall in Manhattan, is not merely another work that blends theater and film. His adaptation of John Cassavetes’s screenplay for his 1977 film of the same name subtly incorporates elements from the life and career of Isabelle Adjani, the show’s main performer. The infusion of the actress’s autobiographical material, along with Mr. Teste’s nightly changing of stage directions, helps to turn the piece into a reflection on how we can be transformed by the roles we play.
A new play by Peter Brook and his creative partner Marie-Hélène Estienne raises similar questions about the role of art. In “Why?” the 94-year-old director and his collaborator interrogate themselves, their audience and their actors by asking “Why theater? What’s it for? What’s it about?” The introspective piece, which promises to be informed by Mr. Brook’s nearly 80-year career in the theater, will run Sept. 21-Oct. 6 at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn as a part of the 40th-anniversary season of Theater for a New Audience, which commissioned the play along with C.I.C.T./Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord and several other arts organizations.
The Crossing the Line roster also includes several dance offerings. Among them is Jérôme Bel and Catherine Gallant’s dance portrait of Isadora Duncan, which will make its American debut on Sept. 25 at Florence Gould Hall. “SOMEWHERE AT THE BEGINNING,” a solo by Germaine Acogny and Mikaël Serre, performed by Ms. Acogny, that addresses her personal journey from Africa to Europe and back, through the lens of Greek tragedy, will follow at La MaMa Sept. 26 and 28.