3 Mar 2017

Heads Up Festival March 2017

Guest contributor Lucy Lyon previews a truly ground-breaking Hull theatre festival.

DJs, jungle sets, MCs, clubbers, bouncers and … chanting monks.

The eclectic combination may not seem the most obvious way to explore the glory days of the UK’s diminishing club scene but DJ and performance artist Will Dickie, who created The Rave Space with director Peader Kirk, can explain.

“It does sound complicated,” he agrees. “But it is one of those things that when you see it, you understand.”

The show, which blurs the lines between theatre and clubbing, takes place on the dancefloor – in Hull, it’s the dancefloor of The New Adelphi Club – and explores the spirituality that can be found on the dancefloor when the crowd come together as one and a form of ecstasy is produced.

I make autobiographical performances. My life has been filled with music and clubs. I have had many amazing experiences through a connection to other people and sound.
Will Dickie, The Rave Space 

Will says: “Transcendence is a running theme throughout the whole thing; the things we cannot explain as human beings but we know are out there. We have different ways of trying to get at that: religion and spirituality are two big ways to make it accessible; but music and clubs are another way of exploring that feeling.

“I make autobiographical performances. My life has been filled with music and clubs. I have had many amazing experiences through a connection to other people and sound, but I also practice martial arts and go on silent retreats where we meditate all day.

“There is simplicity in raving and I think Zen and Buddhism try to get you to that same sense of transcendent, ineffable simplicity without dogma. I have had people come from both audiences and they both appreciate all aspects we are exploring very easily.

“But there is no government or other body that is looking after the sense of collective joy that involves movement and music; we have to look after that ourselves but the whole club scene is not doing well at all.

“The idea of coming together to reach something greater than ourselves is something we should hold on to because it is really, really important.”

The performance of The Rave Space  takes place at The New Adelphi on Saturday 18 March at 8pm as the finale of the ever-eclectic Heads Up Festival, which is now in its eighth season.

After performing his outdoor show Team Of The Decades at the festival two years ago, Will is looking forward to returning to Hull – not least because he feels the Heads Up festival is a great example of the community spirit his show explores.

Heads Up Festival is a great event because it brings people together for those amazing shared experiences on the street and in performance spaces, rather than sitting alone watching something on the internet.”

A collaboration between Ensemble 52 and Battersea Arts Centre, the festival is indeed known for its dedication to using interesting and unusual locations for its performances – and this year is no exception.

We don’t dislike velvet-covered seats and comfortable auditoriums, but we do enjoy creating and presenting work in found spaces, public places, abandoned warehouses and unconventional, unloved, disused property.
Dave Windass, Heads Up Festival

The Scrapstore Studios is the first host, starting Heads Up off with a bang on Saturday 8 March with the UK premiere of Shakespeare versus Moliere, a collaboration between Hull-based Indigo Moon and France’s Compagnie Via Cane. In a bilingual show, the two puppet companies examine the historic rivalry between England and France in a mighty battle between the countries’ greatest playwrights.

Dave Windass, a director of Heads Up Festival producers Ensemble 52, says: “We’ve made a habit of exploring non-traditional theatre venues since Heads Up Festival began four years ago, taking productions into circus big tops, community centres and boxing clubs. We don’t dislike velvet-covered seats and comfortable auditoriums, but we do enjoy creating and presenting work in found spaces, public places, abandoned warehouses and unconventional, unloved, disused property. This all provides audiences with a totally unique experience and breaks down a lot of the barriers that people have that might prevent them from walking into a theatre.

“This season’s no different. We’re very excited to be making a return to the New Adelphi Club, which is one of the most exciting creative spaces in the city.

“We’ve had the support of Hull Libraries previously in order to transform the children’s library at Central Library for a couple of productions and we’re at it again for the Tom Penn and Battersea Arts Centre co-production Neverland, creating a comfortable, inviting, baby-friendly environment for one- to three-year-olds and their parents. Also, for Reassembled, Slightly Askew, we’ll be turning a mysterious, unknown corner of the library into a hospital ward, where audiences will take to their beds and don headsets.

“No Heads Up is complete without an event at Kardomah 94, which is in a building that we were using for theatre before it became a rather more comfortable arts space, and we’ve got TV comedy writing legend Neil Shand there this season, reflecting on his amazing career and being interviewed by Louis Barfe.”

Heads Up is also presenting two performances at the new Ferens studio in the Ferens Art Gallery as part of Hull 2017’s Women of the World (WOW) Festival.

Bucket List combines music, story telling and song to tell the story of one Mexican woman’s fight for justice on Friday 10 March and Saturday 11 March.

WOW will also include a showing of Blazon’s new piece of work Icons, written by Paula B Stanic and directed by Rachel Bagshaw.

The show is a bold modern retelling of the Amazon warrior myths, which pieces fractured stories together to rebuild an extraordinary timeless world of sisters, survivors and strength.

Rachel Bagshaw says: “The Amazons have been explored in writing and art in many different ways, but very rarely have the stories been told from a female perspective.

“Over the past couple of years we’ve been developing Icons, which takes the Greek myth versions and creates a whole new story out of them, bringing them up to date so they speak to us now. We’re delighted to be bringing this work-in-progress performance to Hull as part of this year’s exciting events.”

Heads Up Festival brings people together for those amazing shared experiences on the street and in performance spaces, rather than sitting alone watching something on the internet.
Will Dickie, The Rave Space

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