Arka Photo Blog – Stu Mayhew

So I had spent an enjoyable, if occasionally wet, day in Canary Wharf it was time to get home and charge my batteries. My camera batteries naturally ! I made the short trip from where I live in Shooters Hill down to Artillery Square in Woolwich where Teatr Osmega Dnia would bring and end to GDIF 2014 with Arka.

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

This Polish theatre group began their performance amongst the large gathered crowd, winding their way up on to the main stage. It looked like a wedding celebration but was soon interrupted by a military invasion symbolised by fire eating men who being wheeled through the square on wood and metal contraptions spitting flames high into the night sky, drawing cheers and gasps from everyone.

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

Meanwhile the stage had turned into a scene of huge burning windows , silhouetting the crowd. This large flaming structures were then moved through the crowds and the scene was strange yet beautiful to behold.

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

The performance is about war and refugees being displaced from home. It was quite a moving piece and visually captivating. GDIF has really discovered Artillery Square as a great performance venue and bring the Arts right into the the center of Woolwich has to be applauded, there is always a really big, highly appreciative crowd and tonight was no exception

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

As a huge ship gently sailed into the crowd the show ended and the curtain was closed on GDIF 2014. It is a real privilege to be apart of it, in my own small way. Over the years I have met many of the performers and photographers and its nice to see old faces. A massive effort goes into to bringing such a prestigious event to Greenwich Borough and long may it continue.

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

GDIF2014 Arka by Theatr Osmego Dnia ; Photo by Stu Mayhew

If you live locally and enjoy photography or want to learn how to get more out of your camera then visit http://www.woolwichphotographic.com and find out more about Greenwich’s award winning camera club!

See you next year

Stu

 

Stu Mayhew’s Photo Blog: Dancing City

Dancing City Blog from visiting photographer Stu Mayhew

Saturday the 28th June and it’s off to Canary Wharf to see the many acts that make up GDIF 2014′s Dancing City. This free event attracts performers from all around the world. With heavy showers falling I emerged from Canary Wharf tube station and was given a revised timetable of events , luckily provision was made for performances to take place indoors so I made the short walk across Jubilee Plaza and into the West Wintergarden. First up were Hands Down from Company Chameleon. I had seen them perform in GDIF 2012 and this new routine was equally as good. The two male dancers push and shove each-other in this ground breaking dance depicting how men interact. The physicality of the performance was incredible and the bar was set high for the rest of the day

'Hands Down' by Company Chameleon; Photo by Stu Mayhew

‘Hands Down’ by Company Chameleon; Photo by Stu Mayhew

Next up was The Awakening by StopGap Dance Co. Four disabled and non disabled dancers gave a mesmerising performance with a dream like quality , a lot of the moves are repetitive and really captivating.

'The Awakening' by StopGap Dance Company; Photo by Stu Mayhew

‘The Awakening’ by StopGap Dance Company; Photo by Stu Mayhew

Next a venue chance and it was off to Jubilee Place Mall. Surrounded by unsuspecting shoppers a stage was built right in the middle of the mall and as I arrived Laterite, choreographed by Thomas Micheal Voss, was thrilling the crowd with an intense routine of Tango accompanied by soprano supreme Eliana Pretorian. It was a beautiful performance.

Laterite by Thomas Michael Voss; Photo by Stu Mayhew

Laterite by Thomas Michael Voss; Photo by Stu Mayhew

Next on stage were Compania Sharon Fridman’s ¿Hasta Donde? which was very modern and again the skill and physical strength of the performers was jaw dropping. I confess to not seeing a lot of modern dance but what ever your views on it the dedication these performers must put in to perfecting these intense, intricate cannot be questioned. A bit hit with the crowd.

¿Hasta Donde? by Compañia Sharon Fridman; Photo by Stu Mayhew

¿Hasta Donde? by Compañia Sharon Fridman; Photo by Stu Mayhew

After many holidays to Spain I have a real soft spot for Flamenco and in for a treat when Marco Vargas and Chloe Brule performed Por Casualidad. In this fiery display of Flamenco the themes of unrequited love in brief moments and accidental meetings are explored. This one was a real foot tapper.

Por Casualidad by Marco Vargas and Chloe Brule

Por Casualidad by Marco Vargas and Chloe Brule

I ventured back outside and in between showers performers with Big Dance were strutting their stuff. The Big Dance features hundreds of talented young dancers and youth dance companies and the inclement weather certainly hadn’t dampened their enthusiasm.

Big Dance; Photo by Stu Mayhew

Big Dance; Photo by Stu Mayhew

Closing the curtain on the day’s events was Circ Panic The Man Who Lost His Buttons. Combining the silent comedy of Chaplin and the skills of a circus performer against the backdrop of the Thames and the City beyond this was a show stopper of an act. In a constant battle of wits against a contraption made up of a large pole and backed by a live band , this gravity deifying act drew gasps from those watching. A great way to end a fantastic day. Next up was Arka later that evening.

The Man Who Lost His Buttons by Circ Panic; Photo by Stu Mayhew

The Man Who Lost His Buttons by Circ Panic; Photo by Stu Mayhew

 

Seeing The World

An excerpt from the 2014 GDIF Programme

Dr Marek Kukula
Public Astronomer
Royal Observatory Greenwich

2014 is the 300th anniversary of the Longitude Act, reminding us that Greenwich has been at the heart of human efforts to know our place in the universe for a very long time. Here, mariners were trained and voyages set out to explore the oceans while, up on their hill, the astronomers of the Royal Observatory studied the sky through their telescopes.

New discoveries can help us to make sense of our world but they can also turn cherished ideas upside down. The great telescopes of the Royal Observatory were used to precisely map the heavens, producing reliable tables for navigators and anchoring our concepts of position and timekeeping in the reassuring forms of the Prime Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time. And yet the Observatory also houses James Bradley’s zenith telescope, used by the third Astronomer Royal to prove that the Earth, far from being the serenely immovable centre of the universe, is hurtling through space and wobbling on its axis as it goes.

Both art and science have always had the power to transform the way we see the world and our place within it, and here in Greenwich they have been doing just that for centuries.

 

 

Dancing City Photo Blog by Dave Flynn

Gallery

This gallery contains 8 photos.

Photo blog from GDIF2014 Photo Ambassador Dave Flynn    

WET WEATHER

Dancing City
Saturday 28 June 2014
1pm – 5pm
Canary Wharf, London, E14

In response to the wet weather forecast for this afternoon, some performances have been moved to new indoor locations, some timings may change and the advertised “Dancing City Journeys” will not be going ahead. Volunteers will be onsite to answer any questions and to offer suggestions on what shows to see next.

dcityrain3

For latest updates, GDIF Volunteers at the Information Point on Jubilee Plaza (outside Canary Wharf Underground station), will be on hand. There will also be PA announcements and updates on Twitter #gdifupdates

We’ll be doing everything we can to bring you as much of the programme on schedule as possible.

Thank you for your understanding and have a great afternoon!

Greenwich+Docklands International Festival

 

Chris Pavia of StopGap on Outdoor Dance

Chris Pavia
The Awakening choreographer StopGap Dance Company 

Credit StopGap Dance Company

Credit StopGap Dance Company

I’ve had a lot of experience doing outdoor arts because I’ve performed with Stopgap Dance Company in SPUN Productions and Tracking both of which were part of GDIF. I learnt from this experience that it’s important to make dance material actually outside and not in a studio because we have to get used to the gravelly concrete floor, the sun in our eyes and the wind in our faces.

Credit StopGap Dance Company

Credit StopGap Dance Company

And the atmosphere of the outside is different to working inside. All of these things change the way we dance. We also have to think about the audience and how they surround the performance. The dancers can be seen at all times in the outdoors because there are no wings.

Credit StopGap Dance Company

Credit StopGap Dance Company

 

But the audience being so close is exciting because I get to see their faces and I get to interact with them. It’s harder to do this in theatres where it’s dark, and I enjoy being close to the audience when I perform.

Screen Shot 2014-06-28 at 12.51.11 AM

Check out StopGap Dance Company in ‘The Awakening’ at Dancing City!

 

Inside Out

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 9.15.38 AMLucian Msamati

Artistic Director, Tiata Fahodzi

For a mostly building based company like Tiata Fahodzi, the making of Hamba, our first outdoor show, has very much been the ultimate ‘back-to-basics’ challenge. The bricks, tricks and mortar of theatre buildings offer a degree of certainty: audience there, actors here, share a drink over there.

Outside on the street you are literally and figuratively at the mercy of the elements; yes, there are codes and understood rules of engagement but there
is no guarantee that they are espoused and respected in the same way by everyone else.

The fundamental need of the performer in this zone however is the same: to demand, engage and hold the attention of an audience. So how do I move someone to
tears as they run to catch the bus or chat or daydream? For us the answers began with questions from within: what makes you stop/ turn your head/ pay attention/ engage in the park/street/bus/motorway tailback etc.? When a car backfires or tyres screech, we react viscerally. There is something unguarded and honest in it.

In other words, the more honest and unapologetic the subject or object is the more likely we are to pay attention. The Proscenium Arch of a theatre justifies our  great and magical games of complicit make believe; doing so in your local park or high
street demands that you justify yourself! In other words the concept of certainty has to come from within.

This was our cue to buckle down and tell the story honestly, openly, enthusiastically and with integrity. Storytelling, make-believe and theatre existed long before the West End. Architecture, technology and lyricism never trump the truth: a good story, told with invention doesn’t need a huge budget to work. Now is our time to be honest and courageous and hope you are transfixed!

Catch The Legend of Hamba one more time tonight (Thursday, June 26) at 8:30 at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as part of Global Streets

 

Photo blog from Stu Mayhew Greenwich Fair Day 2

Gallery

This gallery contains 8 photos.

Photo blog from Stu Mayhew Greenwich Fair Day 2   By mid afternoon the crowds were enjoying the glorious hot weather and spoilt for choice for interesting street theatre. I followed a GDIF volunteer with a sign guiding me to … Continue reading

Libyan Street Theatre hits Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Tonight marks the World Premiere of Libyan Street Theatre by The National Theatre of Tripoli and Periplum. Here’s an inside look from our Associate Producer Nathan Curry:

Over the past year I have visited Libya 6 times and created with my Libyan
colleagues (by all accounts) the first ever piece of Libyan Street Theatre. The project was a partnership between the British Council and the National Theatre of Tripoli and we performed the piece ‘A Family Picnic’ in a public park in March this year. It was an incredible experience.

libya

Little theatre has been happening in Libya in recent years. The former regime didn’t support the art form and the act of going to theatre buildings to watch a play is a completely foreign idea to most people in the country. Since the revolution, as the Libyan people attempt to work out their new identity and cope with continual disruptions to daily life, it has understandably not been a priority to create a theatrical landscape or even a theatre performance. The hugemajority of Libyans have little idea what the theatre is or could be- a whole generation has not experienced it. Therefore the creation of a street theatre performance, that took the theatre out to the people in their local spaces, was a vital and timely development. It worked really well and we were all thrilled with the response.

libya2

Working with Libyan actors, designers and musicians we created the story of a family get together to celebrate the 18th birthday of the youngest son. Entirely in Arabic with local music and recognisable family dynamics the piece arrived in a Tripoli park one sunny afternoon and unpacked its tale. A relatively simple story was hugely enjoyed and understood by crowds that we struggled to keep off the ‘stage’. It was a humbling experience to see the hunger and desire for storytelling and a community experience. There is no formal theatre training in Libya and very little opportunity to act or create work. The opportunity afforded to us by the European Development Fund and the British Council to both make a show in Libya and also a residency at GDIF will have huge impact on theatre practice for the Libyan artists.

Nathan Curry
Associate Director,
GDIF

 

Photo blog from Stu Mayhew

Hi
My name is Stu Mayhew and I am an amateur photographing living in Greenwich borough. I am also vice chairman of Greenwich’s Civic Award winning camera club – Aperture Woolwich Photographic Society            
Im delighted to say this is now my third year as a GDIF photographer and 2nd as an official blogger. I missed Friday nights curtain raiser Muaré so was chomping at the bit to get along to Greenwich Fair on a perfectly  hot, sunny Saturday.
Greenwich was buzzing by 1PM and my first port of call was by the Cutty Sark ship to watch Light The Fuse perform Full Stop. In a mix of dance and physical theatre the three performers took the crowd through what might happen during 24hrs at a bus shelter, from battling mums with prams to raving on the roof. Against the backdrop of Greenwich’s best known landmark it made for some great photography and a big crowd enjoyed the story.
Full Stop by Light the Fuse at GDIF2014; Photo by Stu Mayhew

Full Stop by Light the Fuse at GDIF2014; Photo by Stu Mayhew 

I moved on into the grounds of the Naval College where I think it really puts the “Festival” into Greenwich and Docklands Festival. Lots here to see but I settled on Frantic by Acrojou. Choreographed around a large wheel like structure the performers combined modern dance theatre with acrobatics in a piece I find hard to put into words but found strangely moving. The performance ended in a shower of rain, thankfully as part of the story, and the soaked dancers took their bows to rapturous applause.
 
Frantic by Acrojou at GDIF2014; Photo by Stu Mayhew

Frantic by Acrojou at GDIF2014; Photo by Stu Mayhew

 

For my 3rd show of the afternoon I made my way through the crowds back into Cutty Sarks Gardens where artist Joan Català was performing Pelat. Having literally roped in 4 members of the audience to assist him raise a pole using 4 ropes. Instructions came solely by shouting the single word “Huuut” in varying degrees of volume and pitch. Everyone seemed to understand perfectly what to do in what was a hugely entertain piece of almost circus – the children in the audience were transfixed as Joan finally managed to make it to the top of the hoisted pole. Great fun

 

Pelat by Joan Catala at GDIF2014; Photo by Stu Mayhew

Pelat by Joan Catala at GDIF2014; Photo by Stu Mayhew

I will return to tell tales from the rest of my day at the Greenwich Fair
 
Stu