Festival season is finally upon me and so far has been thoroughly enjoyable! This weekend marked the end of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival, and although I haven’t made it to as many events this year as I sometimes do, I’ve really enjoyed those I have made it to, and have loved the buzz about the city for the past two weeks!
On the first night I headed to the Cathedral Close for the opening performance of Réve D’Herbert by Compagnie des Quidams. Each year the opening night involves a walking performance of dramatics, art, light, and music. In the past I have walked the highstreet following gigantic, robotic, pyrotechnic wolves, and enormous dinosaurs flying above my head. I admit that this year was initially less spectacular, although it did culminate in something quite mesmerising indeed! At first we stood for a long time watching tall, white figures with scarily painted faces wandering around between the crowds. Suddenly however, they stopped, forcing a circle to form around each one, and gradually whirled around on the spot, inflating and finally lighting up. Their giant inflatable heads then stuck out far above the crowds, lighting the audience around each one like beacons around the close which by this point had become very dark and ever so slightly eerie. Off they wandered again, this time less carefully, and I found myself ducking and diving to avoid giant, inflatable behinds! Still ever so slightly bored, it wasn’t until the end of the performance, which was further into the close, that I was truly hypnotised by floating orbs which lit the night sky, as large white balloons floated around the audience. As always, it was pretty magical and certainly very surreal; quite the experience.
On the fourth night, I saw Woodkid at the Theatre Royal. Having been to uncountable musical performances of a vastly varying nature, I often find it very difficult to answer the dreaded question ‘what’s the best gig you’ve ever been to?’ Nevertheless, I emerged from Woodkid’s performance absolutely reeling, and spent the entire time inside on the edge of my seat with butterflies all over the place! It may be that as a weak and feeble female, I’m automatically won over by the melting dark chocolate sensation that is his voice, or it may have been the fact that the lighting and set-up of the stage and the attire of the many strong men standing over enormous percussion instruments was so perfectly coordinated and just my colours (or my black I suppose I should say), but whatever it was, it was beautiful and quite the experience and I would absolutely definitely see the show again and again recommend that anyone who even likes Yoann Lemoine’s work a little bit should absolutely definitely see the show for a first time! Certainly a contender and an easy answer for the dreaded question if nothing else!
On the ninth night (this is beginning to sound like some kind of traditional tale), I was whisked off to the Spiegeltent for a Swing Spectacular! I very much enjoy dressing up in vintage-style clothes and dancing around to music from the 40s and 50s. There’s something about being transported back in time to an era that didn’t even have me in it that really excites me! The Spiegeltent is my favourite NNF venue so I had to make the most of my night in there for the Bo Nanafana Swing Spectacular as sadly I haven’t attended any other events in there this year. On approach to the tent I always feel a bubble of excitement rising in a child-like sense as it’s just so inviting and colourful and pretty and has a real presence! The interior is even better, with the beautiful dance floor (which every dance floor should be like in every way!), the booths, the bar, the ceiling, the stage, the stained glass; it’s all very magnificent and unique. Graced with the presence of Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer and his banjolele, it was quite the spectacular as promised!
One of my favourite things about the NNF is that it takes me to new locations, and my favourite place that has been open for access this year is The Undercroft at the top of the market! It may well have been open for festival installations another year, but I’d never been in there until the tenth day! It’s All Up In The Air is an art installation by Rhona Byrne and consists of hanging black clouds assembled from modelling balloons. Yet another surreal experience, I have taken a few people to see the clouds since my first encounter where I stumbled upon some ‘ninja knitting’ as apparently other people are loving the secretive nature of the location too!
Another year over and already I’m intrigued by what next year may have to offer...