FROM theater and dance to circus actsand storytelling, the Ninth AnnualInternational Festival of the Arts in SanJosé will have it all in colorful and excitingpresentations Nov. 17-27.The event, sponsored by the Ministryof Culture, Youth, and Sports and theFestival of the Arts organizing committee,will feature theatrical groups from morethan 10 countries as far away as Israel,whose Tararam group will perform adance, percussion and theater act in a stylesimilar to the acclaimed British group,Stomp.The famous LesDeux Mondes fromCanada, which won theadmiration of thecrowds at last year’sfestival with its multimediapoetry act, theBrazilian BastardaCompany and ElAutomóvil Gris fromMexico will also sharetheir talents at theevent.To inaugurate thefestival, a TaiwaneseOpera group will performat the NationalTheater Nov. 17 at 8p.m., and at 9 p.m., as one of the highlightsof the event, the Spanish group Xarxa willgive a spectacular street performance at inthe plaza before the Costa Rican RailroadInstitute (INCOFER) that will include fireworksand a fire show “unlike anythingCosta Rica has ever seen before,” accordingto Jaime Gamboa, festival producer.ALTHOUGH the program is subjectto change, most activities will startbetween 9-11a.m. and run until 8-10 p.m.during the 10-day period, with stands sellingtypical foods at the Railroad Institute.The festival hosts a combination of theaterand dance, circus acts, mime, storytellingand other theatrical tendencies.For the first time in the history of thefestival, its headquarters will be atINCOFER, widely known as the formertrain station to the Pacific Ocean, whereempty railway carts have been furnished todisplay works of art.This location was chosen because it is“an excellent, under utilized site that measuresnearly seven hectares (17 acres), withone hectare (2.5 acres) dedicated to the festival.He (Iván Rodríguez, general managerof the event) wanted a gigantic spot thisyear,” said AnaBeatriz Fernández,festival press representative.“It fits about 8,000people and we expect4,000-5,000 visitorsper day on weekdaysand 6,000-8,000 onweekends,” Fernándezsaid.In addition to itsspaciousness, theRailroad Institute waschosen because of itsaccessibility to themasses.“It is near thesouthern ‘barrios’ ofSan José, and we want to encourage popularaccess to art and culture,” Fernándezadded. “We seek a massive popular repercussionto the festival.”PORTIONS of the event will rotateamong theaters in downtown San José thatFernández describes as locales of a “noncommercialnature,” including the MelicoSalazar Theater, the 1887 Theater in theNational Center for Culture (CENAC),Sala Vargas Calvo and La Aduana Theateramong others.General admission to the RailroadInstitute will cost ¢1,500 ($3.36) and ¢500($1.12) for children or senior citizens.Admission includes entrance to all exhibitionsand performances at the site for theday. Prices at the other theaters will rangefrom ¢1,500-3,500 ($3.36-7.83) per event.Fernández expects a spectacular eventthis year.“The last international festival lastedtwo weeks, with many activities,” she said.“This year, our focus is on quality. It willlast 10 days, but we have selected magnificentperformers and exhibitions.”The press representative also finds itbeneficial to hold the festival in a singlearea.“PREVIOUSLY, performances werescattered around San José,” she said.“Holding the festival strictly in downtowntheaters will give it accessibility and closeness.”The International Festival of the Artsstarted in 1989 as the “San José for PeaceTheater Festival.” In 1992, the project wasrestructured and launched as the “Festivalof the Arts.”Since then, the festival has alternatedannually as a national event celebrated in ahost city outside the metropolitan area andon an international level in San José. Morethan 30 countries have been represented atmost international festivals, from countriesin Europe, the Middle East, Asia and LatinAmerica.For more info and a complete schedule,see www.festivaldelasartes.com.