The Sheringham Potty Morris & Folk Festival 2017

One of the joys of being back in North Norfolk is discovering all the local events I avoided as a teenager. As you have read from some of my previous posts- I am making more of an effort to discover and write about what is on my doorstep- and I think this one has been my favourite so far!
The Potty Festival  was started by the Lobster Potties Morris dancers in 1993, by Reg Grimes the then Squire (Chairman), Clive Rayment Foreman (Dance teacher) and Penny Shepherd Bagman (Treasurer), as a way of saying thank you to the sides that had invited the Potties to visit them for a weekend of dance. 

This first weekend was such a success that it has been going on for 24 years! And from what I have heard it’s got bigger each year! This year it ran for two days, with the main event on the Saturday.

The morning the Potty Festival Started I was actually working. But that wasn’t a bad thing… as the opening procession through the town went right past the front door.

The weather was glorious and the town was full of music and bells. The Shantymen were performing down by the sea and wee were super busy so my shift flew by. I was soon able to get out amongst the crowds and really explore.

(warning – this is going to be a super photo heavy post)

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I first stopped at the dance spot outside my work and watched what *my* idea of Morris Dancing is. White shirts, bells and sticks. This is what I did for a year when I started high school and it’s what I have associated with Morris ever since. 

I would soon be proven very wrong.

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As I slowly made my way down towards the seafront the outfits got wilder and wilder. I walked past what seemed like a biker gang of dancers, and some ladies all in shades of purple and black.

Painted faces, masks and feathers galore.

It was such a brilliant clash of colours and noise that I spent a good four hours wandering the side streets of Sheringham watching all the Sides perform and talking to the spectators when I could. Everyone I passed has massive grins on their faces. 

The happiness was contagious. 

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The age range of people taking part was the thing that amazed me the most. It was something that I had just imagined as a past time for the my parents and their parents generation, but was I was surrounded by all ages.

 All having the time of their lives.

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As lovely as it was to see the (what I thought was) traditional side of Morris dancing, the dancers that brought the biggest smiles to my face were the ones with the more outrageous costumes.

Are they called costumes, outfits??? I am probably insulting so many people with the generalisations in this post – but that is what these festivals are for I suppose, to show people there are more than one way to keep traditions alive.

 

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Two of the sides I enjoyed watching the most were (I THINK -and I am sorry if I have got this the wrong way round- please correct me in the comments below) Black Pig Border Morris…

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 This side was the most energetic and colourful side. Each member really got in to the spirit of each dance performed. I don’t suppose there are many instances in life where you can charge at someone yelling at the top of your lungs waving a stick- so they were doing this with great enthusiasm. 

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Each outfit was completely different and really enhanced the personality of the dancer. And although each outfit was different when it came to the dance it all blended seemlessly together. 

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The other side was Sutton Masque.

For me their colours reminded me more of the folk side of this festival. Of history and tradition with nature. 

Combined with the energy and enthusiasm of the Black Pig Border Side. 

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Now I couldn’t tell you much about the dances. I may have seen the same one more that once, but the personalities injected into the dances made it so I could have probably watched the same sequence more than once and not noticed. 

Each dance had a story to it. Could I follow it- not really. Did that matter? Not at all. 

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 So yes. I went to a Morris festival and enjoyed it. If I told my teen self this I don’t know what I would have thought. 

The festival celebrates its 25th anniversary next year- and if you want a fun day out, that’s loud, colourful and fun to entertain you, children AND has many a beer garden for the grown ups – this is the festival for you. 

It was lovely to see Sheringham SO busy and has made me look forward to carnival week even more. When the town is busy it really gives it the chance to shine and show what it can really do!

www.pottyfestival.com

Were you in the crowds in Sheringham this weekend? Or where you one of the dancers? Have I got something massively wrong 😂 let me know in the comments below!

-Amanda. 

Ps this blog took a week to sort out because I took about 400 picture that I had to go through 😂

Shakespeare With The Handlebards

Last Friday I saw my first ( and sadly probably only) outdoor theatre of the summer.

Shakespeare’s As You Like It performed by brilliant company – The Handlebards.

The Handlebards started their journey in 2013 and are currently two troupes of cycling actors who carry all of the necessary set, props and costume to perform Shakespeare plays around the world.

On beautiful Pashely bicycles.

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Rear View – IOU

I couldn’t have got more lucky with the weather for my last trip to this years Norfolk and Norwich Festival. Glorious sunshine turning into a stunning sunset totally enhanced this innovative outdoor performance.

IOU have designed a vehicle and created a show called Rear View– who’s world premiere took place here at the NNF. I was lucky enough to attend the first day of the production although with the fluidity of the piece you’d never know.

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Driftwood- Casus Circus

Last night I went on my first trip of the week to The Norfolk and Norwich Festival. This time I was walking up to The Spiegeltent in Chapelfield Gardens. It was another beautiful day so once I collected my ticket it was all about a pint of cider.

I was at the Adnams Spiegeltent to see Casus Circus‘ production Driftwood.

Casus are an Australian ensemble from Brisbane who are recognised as leaders in contemporary circus on the international stage. They have performed all over the world and have become so in demand that there are now two sets of performers on tour. Right now one team is in Norwich and the other is at The Udderbelly Festival on  the Southbank in London. So if any of my London friends are reading this I highly recommend this show. I am sure each individual performer brings their own special skills to each show but the heart and soul of the piece will remain.

At the Spiegeltent it was unallocated seating, but due to it’s unique design there was not a bad seat in the house. It’s such a small intimate space I did start to wonder how they would use the space, but I needn’t have worried, the show fit perfectly.

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Super Sunday- Race Horse Company

Race Horse Company are an all male Finnish Contemporary Circus Troupe created in 2008 with an aim “to take over the world” and after what I saw last night I think they actually can!

Race Horse Company turned the Theatre Royal stage into an abandoned fairground and proceeded to run riot on the equipment that was left there. Combined with the music they used, it gave the air of some guys coming back from a rave and happening upon this equipment. For me this added to the nervousness of the performance – I am aware that they are highly trained very skilled professionals, but their characteristics when interacting with each other sometimes suggested otherwise.

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Summer. Autumn. Winter. Spring.

My first trip to this years Norfolk and Norwich Festival was to see Summer. Autumn. Winter. Spring. A seven hour production about life, death and the passing of time.

As you can see I wasn’t going to ease myself into the festival slowly- I was going in headfirst with no idea what I was about to see. It’s so rare for me to go and see a production where I know nothing about what is going to happen, and that is what made me so excited for the day.

Summer. Autumn. Winter. Spring. was created by Quarantine, who formed in 1998. They devise original theatre, performance and public events with and about the people in it. An incarnation of this show has been performed before, but as they use people from the local area and the stories they bring- no show is ever the same.

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Summer. Autumn. Winter. Spring. consisted of three live performances and one film. And that is all I knew going in.

Continue reading “Summer. Autumn. Winter. Spring.”

The Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2017

I can’t believe it’s been a year since that last launch of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. I am even more excited about this years festival as now I live back in Norfolk I can attend SO many more of the events than I did last year.

This years launch was held at The Shoe Factory Social Club in Norwich. The Artistic Director William Galinsky was there to tell us all about the exciting programme that is kicking off in May. What with the current political state of the world there was lots of talk of inclusion within the arts and I think this years programme really reflects the NNF’s passion in bringing everyone together from all around the world to celebrate the arts.

You can read the full programme HERE, but below are some of the highlights that I will be definitely checking out!

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