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Ladies light up the High Road in Ilford

Following on from the success of the Lumiere London Umbrella Project, I along with my fellow umbrella dancing troupe were asked back to perform at the opening of the magnificent public art installation O.T. 968 on the High Road outside Redbridge Town Hall last night (15 March).

Outside library

We had a few new faces join us who had seen the performance advertised on Facebook and in total, 12 of us met up yesterday afternoon at Redbridge Central Library for a refresher/rehearsal for the evening performances. Leading the session and choreographing our moves once again was the lovely Caldi and Skippy from Cirque Bijou who made it easy for everyone to pick up the moves with their fun approach. Stage managing the performance and responsible for the slick running of the umbrella colour changes was technician Simon who followed us around with the music and the smoke machine creating a great atmosphere for us and everyone watching.

Umbrellas above heads

Our first performance was at around 6.15pm as we were waiting for dusk to get the best effect once our lights went on.  As with our London performance, the umbrellas attracted much attention from passers-by who stopped to take photos and many teenagers and young children wanting to get involved in the procession cheekily running in and out of our formation! It was great to see young people laughing and having fun alongside us. Waterstones was the starting point for us, as in our groups we went through our repertoire of moves, starting with the train which looked amazing, our umbrellas were the wheels and our group leaders were the engine as we glided along the High Road towards the art installation which is part of the Lab Central Arts Programme.

Artwork and dancers

We danced around the artwork which was designed by award winning artist Stefan Reiss.  The glow from the LED lights in our umbrellas complemented the light projections and animations that were directed at the artwork perfectly and created an amazing spectacle.

As we headed back to the library darkness had fallen, perfect for our second performance which was timed to coincide with the end of the launch event for O.T. 968.  As we formed our lines outside the Central Library, all of the dignitaries and guests came out to watch our performance and join us on the walk from the library to the artwork. Once again young children excitedly joined in laughing, dancing and singing along with us as we performed the Catwalk – a move specifically designed to get the audience moving through the centre of the light show. Over at the artwork we paraded around the outside of the installation before all filing into the centre to light it from the inside out. The highlight of this performance came from the amazing Rebecca performing her Michael Jackson routine to Beat It which totally blew us all away – such a talented member of the troupe!

Our final performance was at 8pm, the streets had quietened a bit by then, but there were still people around who wanted to get involved, including a man with his trumpet who decided to play during our duets (in pairs we had devised our own moves which we performed in the middle of the light circle).  Whilst this was great to see him getting involved, we all had to laugh about it as he was asking us for money for his performance! Our finale was a party piece celebrating our team work and full of fun and laughter as we snaked along the High Road in a long line breaking into freestyle moves every now and again.  Exhilarated we finally headed back to the library for the last time around 8.40.

Cath in middle

Thanks to Sam Goodey, Culture Team Leader at Vision Redbridge Culture & Leisure for commissioning the performance and bringing us all together again.  There is talk that we may be back for Light Night, so watch this space…

O.T. 968 is a spatial installation containing large wooden beams and boards with an all over video projection that will be on display in the High Road until Saturday 24 March.

Find out more about O.T. 968 and the Lab Central Arts Programme

More on the Lumiere London Umbrella Project

Check out part of the performance below:

Post Author: Cathy Pace

 

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Redbridge Museum’s On The Move Exhibition

Redbridge Museum’s summer exhibition On The Move is coming to an end this weekend, so I thought I would go along and see what it was all about!  The theme is transport related and showcases a variety of different modes of transport.  As a first time visitor to the Museum exhibition, I wasn’t really aware of what to expect, and I was surprised that everything was extremely interactive providing lots of things for children to do.

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As you walk inside the exhibition space, there are lots of colours and signs drawn on the walls which are actually road signs. There are many huge structures which the children can climb on including a plane with seating for a pilot and co-pilot, a boat which children can climb aboard, and for children that love to dress up, there are costumes which they can wear. There was a train with lots of seats inside, so multiple people could sit and watch a video showing a drivers view of the London underground. The exhibition also includes other types of transport including wheelchairs, bicycles and scooters.

There is an assistant who is very hands on and keen to help all the children, explaining to them how things work, as she did this she explained how real versions of the exhibits would work too and the children were so mesmerised by her and you could really tell that they were interested in what she had to say.

The exhibition offers educational benefits because next to all the interactive activities there are fact sheets that described what it represented and for some pieces it described the history about it so that the children were learning and having a good time. The interactive activities included many puzzles, things they could build and games, including a variation of whack-a-rat.

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The atmosphere in the exhibition was entirely happy and the sounds of laughing and playing was very clear, a young boy called Charlie summed up his visit by saying “it’s fun!” and another young boy called Louis, when asked what he liked the most exclaimed “all of it!”. A grandparent of children playing also told me that she had brought her grandson once and he loved it so much that she brought him and his cousin back again! This proves that this exhibition is not one that should be missed!

Exhibition closes on Saturday 2 September, so hurry if you wish to experience the fun. Entry is FREE.

For more information visit the website

Guest Author: Kate Beard

 

 

 


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The Gardens Of Valentines Mansion Inspires Children To Design Their Own Crockery

From the small to the tall, from the greens to the blues and the buzzing of the bees and crawling of all kinds of bugs, the magical gardens of Valentines Mansion is home to many beautiful creatures and plants. I went along to the mansion’s creative crockery session to see how the children were going to use what they could find in the gardens to decorate their very own cup and saucer.

The elegant drawing room had been transformed into an artist’s workshop with cups and saucers all ready to be painted on. But first, everyone needed some inspiration and there’s no better place for it than the wonderful walled gardens. As children learnt that they would be spending the first part of the session outside they were bursting with glee – especially at the thought of being able to see butterflies! So, the children eagerly led their parents through the array of bright pink flowers to large green leaved plants, constantly sketching anything and everything that caught their eye. While the children carefully inspected each and everything they came across, I chatted to a few of the mums who gushed over the beauty of the mansion and the gardens and how lovely it is to come and visit.

When the time came to head back to the mansion, the children were already admiring each other’s drawings – all desperate to share what they found. Cries of delight and excitement followed the young artists all the way back into the drawing room. There were example cups and saucers all decorated in a typical victorian fashion for more inspiration and as the session leader Alison explained, victorians were known for decorating the inside of their cups too! So there certainly was a lot to think about and before going straight for the porcelain pens to design the crockery, all designs were first drawn on templates.

When it was time to start unleashing the pens onto the crockery, a burst of colour began to make its way onto the previously plain old white cups and saucers. Some children wanted to write their names on their cups and some wanted to dedicate it to their mums or dads! Either way it was clear that every creation was unique with each child’s own personality and imagination being expressed through the various designs and colours. There were small pink hearts that bordered plates, small little bees that buzzed around the cups and all kinds of flowers and plants that made these cups and saucers extremely special indeed.

The finished products needed to be set down to dry and as they filled up the table, crowds began to form to admire how beautiful they all looked. The items looked so picturesque that they could have easily been part of a window display in any victorian crockery shop! The children and parents were a little bit heartbroken at the thought of having to leave their creations behind at the mansion so that they could dry properly, but they were equally full of excitement to come back and collect them so that they can begin to use them and have them as the best piece of crockery in the house!

If you would like to participate in future workshops at Valentines Mansion:

Post Author: Raeesa Mukhtar


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Children Go Crazy About Bats At South Park’s Latest Fun Nature Event!

Ever wondered what it’s really like to be a bat? No? Well, these kids certainly did and after the event at South Park, Ilford on Wednesday, they knew all the secrets of a bat’s life! I went along to their Let’s Go Batty event to brush up on my bat knowledge!

When I arrived, I just had to spend a few moments sitting by the pond listening to the sounds of nature and the wildlife that surrounds it. Despite the radiance of the bright blue sky, the topic of the day was the dark and often ominously portrayed bats. But, park ranger Julia was determined to debunk myths about bats by shedding light on the facts. The most common misconception that she quickly put right was the incorrect statement that bats are blind. Bats can see, they just use a different spectrum because they are always out in the dark and they don’t even need their eyesight as much as echolocation – which is when they shout and listen to their surroundings.

It was clear that the young children were all eager to become bat experts as they filed into the wildlife education and information centre. As they did so, park ranger Anne began to explain how the very roof of the centre is bat friendly. The park itself also offers the opportunity to join in on a bat walk when it becomes dark as there are many bat boxes hanging in the trees and each box can hold up to 50 bats! In Redbridge, you can find up to 7 different kinds of bats and a special bat detector is used to listen out for their calls – this nifty device was on hand during the presentation and was passed around to all the children as they gawked in amazement.

Julia began the session by testing the audience’s knowledge on bats and they were all extremely enthusiastic and knowledgeable! Hands kept shooting up to give examples of different bats and to inform everyone that bats like to feed on mosquitoes, which is why they come out mostly at night.

It was then time for some arts and crafts which meant a lot of glue, coloured paper and of course googly eyes! During the process, one young man declared that his creation was “going a bit donkey wonky!” meaning, it was time to ask mum for help. The result, however, was an abundance of awesome bats hanging from sticks and being waved around the room.

During the hubbub of the arts and crafts, Anne told me more about the park and its plans for the future. It’s admirable at how dedicated the teams are to South Park as much of it has been transformed from previously unfortunate conditions. Being built in 1903, the park has a lot of history and Anne highlighted the importance of its heritage being preserved. As well as this, there are plans to create a new basketball court and to have pond dipping introduced by 2016. The success of the park is clear as the walls of the centre are plastered with photos and information about the park and the wildlife that lives there. It’s a hub of information which has led 150 children to visit the park during the summer term.

The final activity of the day involved actually getting out on the grass and enjoying the fresh morning air. A very clever game was devised to physically demonstrate how bats work. Some children pretended to be bats while others pretended to be moths. The bats would be blindfolded to replicate the dark conditions that bats venture out in and the moths would be whizzing all around. When the bat shouts, the moths would stop and the bats would have to use echolocation to try and pinpoint where the moths are. This resulted in a great deal of fun and squeals of laughter, especially when the mums joined in and became moths!

Guest Author: Raeesa Mukhtar


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The Hunters Grimm – immerse yourself into a world of fantasy!

I didn’t know what I was letting myself in for when I joined the audience of The Hunters Grimm promenade performance in Valentines Park today, but boy was it fun, I didn’t stop smiling (even when I should have been sad!!)

Our hosts, Dot and the Brothers Grimm wanted us to help them in their quest to find stories… stories with a happy ending as one of the brothers was very sad and needed cheering up!

Introductions

The cast greet the audience

As we were led off around the Mansions walled gardens we became part of lots of little stories, firstly bumping into a seemingly harmless wolf lying on the ground; he chatted to us while moving menacingly ever nearer. Then we heard a cry for help and it was a young woman wanting help to fit into the shoe of her dreams!! Next we were serenaded by a band of animals who taught us a dance. Completely bonkers but a lot of fun on a lovely sunny day!! Finally we met a prince who had fallen on hard times searching for the woman of his dreams… would this be our happy ending? You simply must bring the family along to find out.

Animal band

The animal musicians of Breman

This show has universal appeal to old and young alike and can’t help but engage you as the cast draw you into their fantasy world. Children will simply adore this show as you can completely immerse yourself in it and become as involved as you want which makes it feel very personal.

The cast of Teatro Vivo were amazing and incorporated The Community Chorus, regular people like you or I that had signed up as supporting cast members and they blended in perfectly.

With only one day left to run, I urge you to go along on Saturday 2 August. There are 2 performances to choose from; 3pm or 6pm. I promise you, you won’t be sorry!

You can either buy your tickets online at Teatro Vivo or on the day at the box office to the rear of the Gardener’s Cottage Café.  Car parking available.

More information on the Redbridge-i website

Post Author: Cathy Pace


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The Very Successful Labyrinth Theatre Festival Ends With A Magical Performance Of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Picnic baskets, blankets and brollies were out in full force on Sunday evening as an audience gathered in the beautiful gardens of Valentines Mansion, awaiting Oddsocks’ 25th anniversary performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

I had barely entered the gates of Valentines Park, yet it was instantly clear to me that spirits had not been dampened, despite the rain. The crowd was being entertained by some fantastic live music that echoed throughout the park, building anticipation for the imminent performance. As I settled on the grass, I didn’t even have time to worry about it being damp as I was immediately drawn to the stage. The backdrop of the wondrous Valentines Mansion and the gardens that encircled the audience, created a truly mesmerising atmosphere.

When the bellows from the director began, all sounds of chatting, shuffling and eating ceased – it was time to begin. As the actors were introduced, the liveliness of the show was immediately established. Each of them announced the trio of characters they would be playing and once this was done, the story of ‘love, magic and fairies’ ensued.

The plot of this performance, for those unfamiliar with the Shakespearean play, is centred around four lovers. Demetrius is set to marry Hermia at the request of her father, however, Hermia is in love with Lysander (who broke out into song every now and then, serenading the audience with his bright red guitar) and finally there’s Helena or ‘the queen of whining’ as her actress described her – she is besotted with Demetrius who wants nothing to do with her. That is of course until the fairies cunningly intercept these wires of crossed love. Oberon, the king of the fairies was in the most impressive costume. It gave him the height to accompany his domineering character that causes havoc when Lysander and Hermia run off to the woods in the hope that they can be together and escape the wrath of those who disapprove.

Armed with a wild flower that causes the wrong people to fall in love with each other, the fairies thoroughly stir the pot of trouble and mischief. Among all of this exhilarating drama, that was heavily lined with comedy, are the actors or mechanicals who are also in the woods preparing for a play to perform for the Duke of Athens. These scenes of the play were full of audience interaction and comic relief as the characters weaved in and out of the audience, grabbed some food along the way and stumbled over umbrellas.

Oddsocks cast Midsummer Nights Dream

The four lovers provided the perfect amount of high-energy drama, the mystical fairies in their vibrant costumes that dazzled the audience with neon reds and pinks were the source of all mischief, while the ‘mechanicals’ generated the most laughs. Physical action and comedy were not scarce at all – it was carried out flawlessly and was complemented by the abundance of jokes on stage.

The whole show was just excellent with its perfectly timed wit and engaging performances by the actors who oozed enthusiasm during every part that they played. Laughs, gasps and applause rippled throughout the audience from the hilarious hunting dogs being brought out to the magical moment that the skies above, that had only sent rain down upon us, became brighter as if it was directly responding to Helena’s dramatic plea to the skies for some comfort. The magic of the play was kept alive and burning until the final bows were taken – even though I’m sure many people including myself took the magic home with them as the performance was so memorable.

Guest Author: Raeesa Mukhtar


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A High Street Odyssey – An experience like no other!

Well, I have just enjoyed one of my funniest half hours ever! Joined by my colleagues and some members of the public we embarked on our High Street Odyssey journey through Ilford Town Centre.

Issued with our ‘shopping bags’ we found our instructions inside telling us to don our headphones (also inside) and follow direction via the headset. Suddenly we became immersed in our own whacky world looking out for our narrator who appeared from a phone box with a wireless headset instructing us from afar to take a good look around and drink in our surroundings. Suddenly he was gone only to appear a few moments later as a litter picker and we were to follow him.

High St OdysseyHigh St Odyssey binoculars

People who we thought were members of the public at large suddenly became characters in our own personal street performance; a man with a pram, a lady eating a burger, a man selling phone contracts. We drew many peculiar glances from shoppers as we laughed and looked and listened to a whistle stop history lesson of the buildings around us.

We began observing shoppers when a lady on her phone caught our narrator’s eye; and then the fun really began as we followed her and watched her interact with many of the characters we had seen; throwing water at a street seller, stealing a bracelet, dancing in a shop window. What was real and what was not, was for us to decide, but it was all so bizarre whilst at the same time being laugh out loud funny.

If you are in Ilford over the weekend, do spare half an hour of your time to join this quirky but thought-provoking FREE street theatre performance, I guarantee that you will not be disappointed. It is an experience that you will remember for a long long time. Be sure to bring someone along to giggle with!

Performances take place at 10.30am, 12noon, 2pm and 3.30pm on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 June. Sign up at the steps to Ilford Town Hall, 128-142 High Road.

The performance is part of the Labyrinth Theatre Festival and is performed by the brilliant cast of Inspector Sands

For more information about the Festival, which ends on Sunday 29 June, visit the website.

Post Author: Cathy Pace