Accueil > Temps forts > Les Fêtes Franglais > La Fête Franglais au Peterborough Arts Festival

2013 event review

jeudi 12 septembre 2013, par Julia Duchemin.

Toutes les versions de cet article : [English] [français]

Well that was some outdoor arts Fête Franglais ! Firstly, the decoration by the Irish company Bui Bolg that had already been seen on the Norfolk Fête Franglais in July set the tone – and the color ! Neither the Queen of England and Eiffel Tower stamps, nor the blue-white-red objects scattered around the festival field, or the gigantic deck chairs made of the flags from both countries went unnoticed.

The programming of the festival mingled companies from both sides of the Channel. The vast grass field dedicated to the festival was punctuated with several circus structures : there was the trapeze from Tumble Circus, where both artists, Tina Machina and Ken Fall perform a trapeze duo that is as funny as it is physically remarkable.

The stage of Collectif Malunés, made of a caravan, mats, teeterboard, clothesline and, here too, an impressive trapeze structure, tickled the curiosity of the audience who dawdled there between two other shows. When the young circus artists entered the stage, they conquered the crowd through the sweet madness of their universe and their acrobatic prowess.

On the other side of the field, facing them, the swing set of the circus company Lost in Translation was actually multifunction : in La Ballade de Bergerac, it can be a boat, a flying device and a mechanical engine, according to the mean of transport that Cyrano de la Luna and his crew choose to use to try and reach the moon. Each idea proposed by any of the four members of the crew led to a juggling, flying rope, hula hoop or acrobatic porté solo. When Jules Verne’s universe meets circus…

But most of all, the Wheel of Death of the Marseille company La Rotative is the one whose presence imposed itself the most on the festival field. It is also the wheel of time as three different shows were performed each day : one featuring cavemen, the other waiters and the last one futuristic beings. The common thread to these three stages was this wheel on which the three artists took it in turns to walk, crawl, curl, jump, on, in, underneath, standing up, lying down… with a grace created by the circular movement of the wheel and the artist taming it.

This weekend in Peterborough, people also met with very odd beings… Mercival and Bile for instance, the mysterious mindreading travelers from Ramshacklicious, that walk around with their intriguing music-powered machine ; or the two comedians from Garlic Theatre (Can Fish Drink Tea ?), one of them manipulating teabags and teapots, dismembered Barbie dolls, fish or even the puppet of the captain of an unusual ship, while the other accompanies him with violin and sound effects ; or else the bizarre restaurant of La Monster Takeway where the clients are offered arms, legs, tentacles, horns or eyes on the side by a distinguished French waiter to assemble their very own monster to go.

Strange too were these « Mystérieuses coiffures » realised by Christophe Pavia. There, the real performances were the masterpieces that the mad hairdresser created upon each of the heads he transformed, applying flowers, small birds, twigs or ivy on them. Every time, it came out as a beautiful visual poem that we could see later on the festival, walking around the crowd ! Greer Roberts, Vivacity arts service manager and ZEPA 2 partner, played along…

In the city center, on the main square, there was a trolley ballet ; that is Trolleys, by the company C-12. Five trolleys rolled, slided, collided, rubbed together and seemed alive, led as they were by the five dancers. Who were humans, who were machines ?

Back to the field, where four absolutely restless and wacky clowns, whose each personality is stranger than the others, endeavour to explain to the audience what a proper circus show is supposed to look like. That’s the company Le Navet Bête which involves demented acrobatics, hilarious mimes, decapitated flowers and explosive music. We inform the reader that no member of the audience was hurt during the course of this performance…

… neither was the audience on the eponym show by Magmanus, even if the strip-tease finale by the two acrobats could have caused a few ladies to swoon ! One, Manu, short and vigorous, the other Magnus, big and placid ; both of them multiply remarkable jumps on the teeterboard, juggling duos and comic relief. If it is true that some shows struggled to attract audience at times, this one wasn’t one of those !

Just like the blue men invasion in the city that gathered more than 4000 people. The company Générik Vapeur wrote a site-specific adaptation for the city of Peterborough, The Peterborough Invasion, to which four local volunteers participated. Once more, the performance induced a mix of surprise, incredulity and marvel and undoubtedly left its mark on the city and its audience for a long time, arousing an interest for this kind of performance in public space.

The Peterborough Arts Festival has been around for several years, as a multidisciplinary festival, but the 2013 edition was out of the ordinary : on one hand Vivacity– the organising structure and ZEPA 2 partner – reduced the musical part of its programming and developed the outdoor arts one ; on the other hand it was the first time that the festival settles on the “Embankment”, this vast grass field behind the Key Theatre, along the canal. And “vast” is not an understatement as the French and UK companies sometimes had trouble investing it and the audience, still new to the whole outdoor arts festival programming, seemed a bit lost at times.
But still, the Fête Franglais, and more generally the Peterborough festival, presented a great potential for further development and the Peterborough community showed a real interest to take part in it.
So long live the Peterborough festival !

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