Friday, 9 May 2014

April Festival- a skip across the water

So early April I travelled across the water to attend AprilFestival a vibrant and fertile festival which platformed Danish work for young people. It is the largest festival of its kind in the world and because of this not only did I get to see a vast number of pieces in a small space of time but I was lucky to really immerse myself in prevalent discussions about the form that children’s theatre work can take.

Venues were scattered all over Holstebro from school halls to nursery’s, the central library, remote National Trust style houses and the stunning Odin Theatre. I watched over 15 shows (with barely 12 hours sleep across the 4 days!). Because of the timing of my visit I viewed these performances alongside their intended audience, children. This was a real treat, my timing was fortuitous as the during the week the festival embraces young people across the region to be the central body of the audience. On the weekend the festival became more focused on delegates and therefore there were more adults watching the work. I therefore could look to my other audience members for guidance to see if what we were watching was working for them too.

The work was incredibly varied, as so often things are, so I just wanted to share 3 of the highlights which has prompted some provocations for us and how we make, and shape our practice. Especially for our upcoming activities for Yorick!

The Memory Place – Luna Park Scenekunst for those aged 4-8 years

An exquisite atmospheric performance in a tent situated in the back of the city library. A direct and hands on piece of storytelling which was inventive and really focused on the participants. At the end a chance to explore the space, old trucks, boxes and bottles, toy merry go rounds and antique furniture stuffed with trinkets and numbers. 
Rain – Teatre Bilk for those aged 0-6 years
A non-verbal based piece for the younger ones which connected and resonated both on a visual and soundscape level. Using balloons and umbrellas we all play with the rain; carefully guided by a feast of delightful sounds. Yes we get a little wet as the performers who trickle water over various objects and spray us with tiny drops of water. There is no linear drive. It is so strongly present it doesn’t need one. Instead we connect with the rain and when the big fans, covered in plastic sheeting mark the start of the storm. You can see the delight in our young audience. A real treat of a piece.

Greedy – Limfjordsteatre
‘Time runs fast – sometimes it stops…
It is hard to catch…
When you’re having fun the time flies.
When you are having fun you just want to stop time for a while.’

This show was somewhat remarkable. A real artistic collage of work from a company that just gets it! Merging puppetry and song, conversational dialogue with the audience, immersive acts of bringing the children onto stage to draw in a circle of sand as the action continues, the soft sheepskin rugs we sit on with bare feet and a sophisticated concept of when should we be greedy in life and when might it be best to let go.

And now a month on an excitingly a legacy continues with conversations about potential partnerships, exchanges and sharings, with the hope that this initial skip across to Denmark with not be the last for Dot and Ethel.

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