International festival returns to the area
A spectacle of theatre and dance started yesterday as The Greenwich and Docklands International Festival returns to outdoor audiences.
Ten days of events will see performances of poetry, singing and dancing, physical theatre, puppetry and acrobatics.
The festival's associate director, Nathan Curry, spoke to The Wharf about his involvement and how he went about creating such a diverse event.
■ What does your role as associate director entail?
It's very similar to being a theatre director - but also making pieces of work. Part of my role is curating and programming artists that are new to outdoor theatre, as well as making the festival happen its about cultivating new artists.
When I first began organising in September, it was about commissioning a programme of work and choosing the best work we could find in the UK and Europe. Also I researched what new pieces we could bring to the festival from young artists.
Most of this year has been about delivering the programme such as organisation of the sites, marketing and advertising, booking the artists and budgeting the festival.
There is a large amount of work out there so I go to a lot of other festivals, watch acts online and search for talent. Also I want to push the art form - I looked at getting more music, words and poetry into the festival and was strategic about finding those type of artists. I have to look at the balance of the programme in the hope it will engage a wide audience.
It's a real challenge to create a festival where there is something for everyone - but this year I think there is.
■ What is different this year?
Our opening night outdoor show Prometheus Awakes is a collaboration between La Fura dels Baus, a Catalan theatre company who performed the opening ceremony at the Barcelona Olympics, and Graeae, a Hackey-based disabled-led theatre company. It will be a huge theatrical spectacle.
The world premiere of Crow - the debut show from the theatre company that made all the puppets for War Horse, is the first time the festival is bringing the spirit of the outdoors inside a venue.
We are creating a very visceral outdoor world within an inside space.
A new programme this year called Word On The Street is something that I have created, taking the best of contemporary theatre that I've seen and bringing it to an outdoor audience for the first time.
It looks at how text and spoken word works with the outdoors. A big experiment really.
■ What can audiences expect from the festival?
They can expect to smile. They will be surprised and thrilled, leaving with an emotion they were not expecting - a transformative experience.
his part of London is one of the best spaces for outdoor theatre with such a diversity of landscape where we can celebrate public spaces.
■ What highlights should we look out for around the Wharf?
As part of the Dancing City programme there is a performance from Tangled Feet, a show titled Inflation.
It's the credit crunch and banking crisis set on an bouncy castle, a satirical look at the history of banks and Britain and the silliness of it all - and how it doesn't really exist. If we all took our money out of the banks they wouldn't be there.
It looks at how the banks really are just numbers on a computer and how our money is controlled by people we have never met.
There is another piece titled Trolleys by C-12 Dance Theatre which is a beautiful ballet with shopping trolleys.
Mad people doing handstands on trolleys, jumping, dancing, cart wheeling off them.
Greenwich and Docklands International Festival, June 21-30, go to festival.org.
SIX of the best
Presented by Handspring Puppet Company UK
Feathers of the puppet variety will be flapping in tune with Ted Hughes' mythic Crow poems. A world premiere from the puppet geniuses that worked on the National Theatre production of War Horse. Dark, mystic shadows and choreography.
The Borough Hall at Greenwich Dance, SE10 8RE, June 18-July 7, various times, £18 (£15).
2. Prometheus Awakes
Presented by Graeae and La Fura dels Baus
An eight metre high Prometheus will rise from the ground creating fire and humanity in defiance of the God Zeus. A collaboration of disabled and non-disabled performers will take to the air in a re-interpretation of the Greek myth without words, using music, puppetry and movement.
National Maritime Museum, Royal Museums Greenwich, SE10, June 22, 10pm, FREE.
Presented by Sarruga
Honey I Shrunk The Kids meets street art. Giant bicycle-powered insects will invade Roman Road, puppets performing to dramatic music and pyrotechnics will light up the streets. Supersized spiders and creepy critters will feast on trees and dwarf the crowds. Be careful not to be eaten by the Praying Mantis.
Roman Road Market, Bow, Tower Hamlets, E3, June 23, 9.45pm, FREE.
Presented by Upswing
An acrobatic retelling of a dark fairy tale in a forest of Chinese poles. In a performance of circus techniques and theatre, dancers will be swinging across Cabot Square and turning the world upside down. There is promise of forbidden temptation and a place beyond the normal, where strange things might occur.
Cabot Square, Canary Wharf, Tower Hamlets E14, June 28-30, various times, FREE.
Presented by Ljud
A Slovenian troupe of pink aliens will be teleporting to Greenwich where they will attempt to establish contact with the human race, teaching you their habits and trying to learn our tricks. See our world through their pink eyes as they try to look for jobs, friends and lovers.
Old Royal Naval College / Cutty Sark Gardens / Greenwich Market, SE10, June 23-24, 1.25pm and 3.40pm, FREE.
6. Four Seasons of Buenos Aires
Presented by Arensky Chamber Orchestra and TM Voss
Tango beats inspired by Argentinian composer Piazzolla will be belted out by London's newest chamber orchestra. Add collaboration with leading German choreographer TM Voss and you bring Buenos Aires to a grand setting.
East Wintergarden, Canary Wharf, E14, June 30, various times, FREE.