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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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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!


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


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Ilford Welcomes Summer With Fantastic Outdoor Performances In The Sun

Shoppers in Ilford Town Centre on Saturday were in for a right treat as Redbridge Music Lounge was set up right at the heart of the hustle and bustle which offered a chance to sit down and enjoy some great music in the sunshine. If people hadn’t quite made it to the music, then they were being greeted by the illustrious Nutkhut stilt performers that were mingling with the shoppers and proving to be a great addition to the usual sights of Ilford.

It was the wonderful sounds of the talented musicians performing at Redbridge Music Lounge that perfectly complemented the glorious sunshine that had graced Ilford Town Centre on Saturday. Plenty of people stopped in their tracks to enjoy the music that echoed throughout the High Road.

One of the performers was 17 year old Ryan Green from Essex who treated his audience to a wonderful selection of songs. His final song was ‘Don’t Go’ by Josh Kumra, which he had previously sung for the likes of Kylie Minogue and Tom Jones when he was a contestant on the third series of BBC’s singing competition The Voice.

His soulful voice captured the attention of passers by who were then stunned by his musical talent as he not only sang but he showed off his skills on the keyboard. After his set, many people rushed over to congratulate him on a great performance. After he thanked and posed for photos with his admirers, I had the chance to ask him a few questions.

Wowed by this young man’s talent I had to ask him how long he had been performing.

“I’ve been performing since I was 12 years old. I started off with Redbridge Music Lounge, I like to get back to my roots to perform whenever I can”

Ryan truly means this as he also performed at the Christmas Light’s Switch on at Redbridge Town Hall!

After hearing Ryan’s covers of Frank Ocean and Example I was keen to know who his other musical influences are.

“Originally James Morrisson was a big influence on me and on my voice. But now, Frank Ocean is definitely a big influence, so they are my two main influences.”

Ryan also told me that he is currently at The Brit School, so I am sure that he will continue to excel at music and performing as he certainly put on a great show for the people of Ilford!

For more information on this exceptionally talented young man you can go to his website

RMSStilt walker

As I continued on my way through the High Road it was then that I saw the magnificent stilt performers, who were part of the Labyrinth Theatre Festival street entertainment. It was a sight you could not miss as they stood tall and proud, high above everyone else. Firstly it was the majestic maharajah who was causing many of the shoppers to avert their gaze upwards as they craned their necks to take in his full gloriousness. He was draped in a mesmerising blue gown and had a very golden turban to suit his attire that was clearly fit for royalty. As he walked confidently down the street he attempted to include passersby into the world of a maharajah and make them part of his performance! His charming demeanour enticed many people, children especially who wanted to stop for a chat and a photo!

Following not too far behind were the more mischievous looking casual but cool DJ stilt performers wearing their baseball caps and jerseys who looked like they could cause some trouble for the maharajah! They walked down the street with not a care in the world, as if they were just blending in with the crowds.

I stopped to watch the stilt performers continue on their way, weaving remarkably comfortably through the busyness of the street and I waited until they had become just tiny dots above the heads of shoppers. I could still hear shrieks of laughter in the distance of each person who had just been caught by surprise at the sight of the tall figures.

The Labyrinth Theatre Festival continues until Sunday 29 June with performances all over Redbridge.  So don’t miss out, for more information visit the website.

Guest Post: Raeesa Mukhtar