Unexpected: a three-day, family friendly Exeter Festival
Exeter’s Unexpected 2014 Festival, running 29-31 Aug, brings some of the UK’s most explosive street theatre and circus shows to the open-air streets, cultural venues and public spaces of Exeter in an extraordinary three days of family festival fun to end the summer holidays.
Almost the entire programme is free and unticketed – meaning families can enjoy all the fun at their leisure, on what promises to be the most exciting Exeter weekend of the summer.
Returning after Exeter City Council’s huge success producing Unexpected 2013 – the festival’s stunning debut, this major 2014 three-day celebration will enthrall and delight residents and guests across the city centre, featuring international circus superstars, such as NoFit State and many other highly-talented performance artists.
Having dazzled more than 250,000 people worldwide, NoFit State lead Circus Sunday, August 31, inviting the people of Exeter to Princesshay to get involved with their free, spectacular, outdoor production, OPEN HOUSE, before taking their place in the stunning Festival Carnival Parade.
Open House is a menagerie of circus chaos that swaps the traditional big top for a caravanned colony of musicians, acrobats and aerialists, filling Exeter’s Princesshay with colour, live music and amazing physical feats.
NoFit State will also teach visitors of all ages how to balance, jump and throw shapes, before leading the spectacular costumed Carnival Parade Festival finale.
As part of the First World War Centenary programme, the Unexpected 2014 festival commission is an evocative artistic interpretation of First World War Recruitment Centres.
This major family-friendly festival commission, entitled, The Great Fete, takes place Saturday, August 30, within Exeter’s Rougemont and RAMM gardens. Working in partnership with the award-winning Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM), the events invite ‘enlistees’ young and old, to sing songs in the style of popular music halls of the era, make poppies, try hands-on physical challenges and even take part in a tea dance to a live Palm Court trio, all under the atmospheric watch of costumed performers, nurses and recruitment officers.
For families with young children come along and help the Suffragettes make poppies and roses for the let’s remember garden, decorate a shortbread poppy biscuit and join in a musical singalong, celebrating popular songs from the day.
On Friday 29 and Saturday 30 August, adventurous dramatists from Burn the Curtain presents The Company of Wolves. which will lead a trip through the woods in a spine-tingling tale, based on the spooky stories of Angela Carter. Setting off at dusk, audiences will be able to walk or run alongside the players in an unforgettable performance lit by torches and lights.
Meanwhile, the hilarious UK renowned performers, Le Navet Bete will conjure a high-energy, madcap event as part of the thrilling Xplosion series of shows in Princesshay and Blue Boy Square, where amongst others, Angie Mack will also be whirling a giant hoop on her way to creating a gigantic, human multi-hooping tower.
Infectious troupe Circadian will be showing visitors how beauty can be found everywhere on a walkabout. Vamos Theatre will also be signposting a stroll in the company of caring midwives from the 1940s, intent on averting medical emergencies, ensuring the public are in tip-top health and even delivering babies if necessary.
Kids will love Turbo Jones, whose Reckless Invention remixes Vanilla Ice, Lionel Richie, Grandmaster Flash, MC Hammer, Rick Astley and more in a blend of breakdance, physical comedy and 1980s rap.
Hip-hop is equally infused in the work of Upswing. In Loved Up, their three unique characters meet in the park and bounce off each other in a witty, exhilarating mix of theatre and stunning aerial choreography.
Dance, digital art, historic buildings and parks will all be part of a hugely diverse Unexpected 2014 programme with plenty of surprises in store, including a range of public workshops allowing everyone to show off their creativity.
Incredible hands-on Carnival Workshops led by the stellar costume supremo, Iola Weir, offer a fantastic, free chance to work with top carnival artists to make and decorate circus costumes to take part in Unexpected’s Grand Finale Carnival Parade..
Equally, Devon Carousel will share their expertise in poppy and rose-making masterclasses at the Children’s Library, while Double Elephant will use letterpress and screen print, helping visitors create a bag or poster at the Guildhall Shopping Square (all dates and times are below).
Other family favourite, festival highlights include sparkling circus skills, robotics and mime from Jason Maverick, a show combining traditional Indian magic with comedy courtesy of Andrew Elliott, Circo Rum Ba Ba – the smallest hotel in the world, which comes alive before your eyes after beginning in darkness – and A Small Chance of Showers, an uplifting, clever piece of storytelling by up-and-coming company Can’t Sit Still.
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