Last night I had the pleasure to represent the Theatre Bloggers Community and attend the launch of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.
This was extra special for me as I grew up in North Norfolk and hearing all about the plans for arts in my local area was really exciting, especially as a few of the productions happening during the festival are in places very special to me from my childhood.
The NNF is an international festival that, although it is well established, in the last 15 years it has truly become a very important event in the UK arts calendar. In previous years they have worked with established artists as well as featuring artists that have gone on to huge things.
Last nights launch gave sponsors and members a chance to chat about upcoming events in this years festival, before being introduced to the full programme by the artistic director William Galinsky. Now in his 5th year, Galinsky seemed extremely happy and excited about this years programme, and proud that the festival is going from strength to strength, even in these uncertain arts funding times.
The presentation started with Galinsky talking about how proud the company are of their original productions and commissions, this year there are 7 original pieces, working with international and local artists alike.
Wild Life is a collaboration between Pol Hayvaert of Belgian arts centre CAMPO and ten young singer/songwriters aged 14-24 from across Norfolk. It started life during last years festival and they have continued to work together over the last 12 months during school breaks and weekends to develop this performance together, about the real lives of teenagers. It runs from 19th to 29th May at the Norwich Playhouse.
The Tempest – Monday 9th -Saturday 21st May 2016 – Great Yarmouth Hippodrome. Directed by William Glainsky working with designer Laura Hopkins.
This is the first production that really got my attention when I was looking into what the festival was offering this year. The Hippodrome Circus holds a very special place in my hear as when I was a child I used to perform there. Growing up in Norfolk the circus was a part of most peoples lives, going to see the summer and Christmas Spectaculars. The Hippodrome is Britain’s only surviving circus building, built in 1903. It can accommodate aerial artists and has a central water pool in the circus ring so the possibilities are endless. It is such a unique venue and I have no doubt that a spectacular production will be created.
Walk With Me – Friday 13th May – Sunday October 30th – Felbrigg Hall. A Walkscape by composers Strijbos & Van Rijswijk.
Felbrigg Hall is another location that locals and tourist may have visited hundreds of times, whether it be with schools or just walking the grounds. This Walkscape will re introduce audiences to a familiar space in an whole new and exiting light. Last year the production Wolf’s Child made people see the space in a different way, this year they are working with novelist Megan Bradbury and going back and delving into the history of the building as well as including it’s current life with the National Trust. Each visitor is loaned an iPad and headphones and can take their time to walk the grounds, as the app is GPS triggered so each tour can be made individual to the person.
Walk With Me runs from the start of the festival through to the end of October giving people more opportunities to experience it. I imagine it is also an event that can feel completely different on a bright summers day compared to a crisp autumn evening. I know I will attend more than once.
What is exciting me about the NNF is it’s ability to attract people from all over the world to perform, bringing people from across the UK to see the productions, whilst still keeping it relevant and exciting for local people. By utilising these familiar spaces differently keeps it fresh and exciting bringing people back year after year.
The Tarmac Free Outdoor Programme.
Another popular part of the NNF is its varied free outdoor programme that is spread out in various locations over the city. Some run the entire length of the festival, and some are just for a few nights, such as Flat – by Argentinian choreographer and dancer Rodrigo Pardo. A birds-eye view of a flat will be suspended on The Forum, and the audience will be able to watch as a man goes about his life and dreams. It will incorporate aerial dance as well as animation projection and mapping technology that will constantly transform the room. Flat runs at 10pm on Friday 13th and Saturday 14th May outside The Forum.
Running throughout the festival will be a Public Juke Box that will move around the city centre. It will have an eclectic collection of music that you can play at the press of a button. Talking about music on the move – The Aurora Orchestra are performing The Beethoven Safari, in an aim to bring classical music out of the concert halls and make it more accessible to audiences. The Aurora Orchestra are special in that they perform whole symphonies from memory, which enables them to move around and interact with audiences in a way traditional orchestras do not. This performance will be throughout the day on Sunday 22nd May, starting at the Chapelfield Gardens before venturing out into the city.
The Mahler Symphony of A Thousand on Saturday May 21st at the Norfolk Showground is a MUST for me, I can’t imagine the immense sound that multiple choirs will make and it must be an amazing experience for all the local choirs to be performing on such a huge scale. For me it will be nice to listen to some classical music that I don’t know in a purpose built arena that will be designed for fantastic acoustics.
So those are just a few of the events that grabbed my attention at last nights launch, my brochure is full of events circled that I want to see, including genres that I would not normally see.
The programme is available for you to browse on line here and I really recommend that you have a good look, there are some gems in there that you can’t afford to miss.
The festival is a great chance for audiences to see things locally that they wouldn’t usually go and watch, and to introduce themselves to different genres. It’s a super affordable festival and at the end of the day you are supporting the local economy and building a positive reputation for fantastic arts in rural areas. NNF also make the whole festival really accessible, which is very important in rural areas. They put on buses that you can book alongside tickets to some events, and with Abellio Greater Anglia being a main sponsor, they have a lot of information readily available to prospective audience members showing just how easily accessible the whole festival is no matter where you are in the UK.
Have you had a look at whats happening this May? What performances have caught your eye?
Once again thank you to Sammi and Rebecca at Theatrebloggers.co.uk for giving me the opportunity to attend this event, I can’t wait to spend a lot of May in Norfolk that’s for sure.