GDIF2014 Highlights and Trailer

Turning the World Upside Down

See the world from a different angle and immerse yourself in London’s festival of shape shifting, perception changing, free outdoor performance.

From the top of Greenwich Park Hill you can look out on one of most spectacular views of the capital – a city of stories. GDIF 2014 invites you to experience these familiar streets and public spaces as they’re transformed with astonishing free performance from around the globe.

From gravity-defying aerial choreography to global stories of war and peace; encounters between the living and the dead and a house turned inside out; from a pop-up desert island to a flying ship; this summer the magic of outdoor theatre will reinvent the everyday and encourage you to look at the world anew.


Full programme highlights details at Join us 20-28 June!


Without Walls 2014 Programme

GDIF is a founder member of Without Walls, an Arts Council funded consortium of leading festivals dedicated to the development and touring of new and exciting outdoor work. Behind the scenes, artists, performers, designers, producers and technicians have been hard at work developing some tantalising new projects, which will all be shown as part of this year’s Festival.



GDIF is very excited to be co-commissioning Metro Boulot Dodo’s new large scale storytelling adventure with a fusion of digital imagery and aerial choreography coming together on an ingeniously designed larger-than-life house; Marc Brew’s eagerly anticipated new production which takes place on a 7 tonne island of sand; and Tiata Fahodzi’s contemporary African physical theatre parable “The Legend of Hamba”, which had a recent very successful research and development week at Diorama Arts.

Alongside these co-commissioned projects GDIF will also be presenting other new Without Walls productions by Acrojou, Wet Picnic, Nuno Silva and Ramshacklicious.  Over the course of GDIF’s opening weekend, you’ll be able to see all seven of these new Without Walls productions for 2014, so don’t miss this great opportunity!


GDIF at Stoke Mandeville

Photo by Doug Southall

Photo by Doug Southall

On Saturday 1 March the eyes of the world were on Stoke Mandeville, as a spectacular ceremony (created and produced by GDIF) lit the first-ever Paralympic Heritage Flame.

Broadcast live on Channel 4, the Ceremony saw the Paralympic Heritage Flame lit by gold medal winning wheelchair racing athlete Hannah Cockcroft from the centre of an extraordinarily beautiful 6m diameter, Armillary Sphere (a model of stars and planets in the sky). Created by internationally acclaimed theatre designer Jon Bausor the illumination of the flame was accompanied by specially commissioned music by Dan Jones and pyrotechnics from Alchemy.

Photo by Doug Southall

Photo by Doug Southall


As part of the Ceremony two new films were shown:

Mike Christie’s “I am the Flame” telling the inspiring story of Stoke Mandeville, whilst Rachel Gadsden and Abigail Norris looked to Greek myth in an animation recounting the legend of the god Hephaestus.

GDIF is enormously grateful to Sir Ian McKellen who took time out from a busy schedule to narrate both of these films.

Photo by Doug Southall

Photo by Doug Southall

A day later on Saturday 2 March, GDIF created a second event “Spirit in Motion” at the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury, telling the story of Stoke Mandeville and bringing together artists and Paralympians in a celebration of sport and the arts. Hosted by actor Ben Owen-Jones, audiences were treated to a unique aerial performance by circus artists from the London 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony, whilst Rachel Gadsden brought the Paralympic motto of “spirit in motion” to life on canvas. There were also performances from Denise Leigh and Andrea Begley whilst guest speakers included Chris Holmes, Jenny Sealey, Naomi Riches and Sally Haynes.

Photo by Doug Southall

Photo by Doug Southall


GDIF2014 and LIFT Announce UK Premiere!

Rara Woulib’s Deblozay

'Deblozay' by Rara Woulib. Photo Credit: Photo Bushido

‘Deblozay’ by Rara Woulib. Credit: Photo Bushido

 Fri 20 June & Sat 21 June, FREE

Rara Woulib explore des zones frontières, où le spectacle a peu l’habitude d’aller

Liberation – France

Dance with the Dead
Haitian culture looks at death in a very different way to our own. It is not a hushed-up affair of coffins and closed doors but a loud celebration of all that life has to offer, in this world and the next.As the sun sets, join French company Rara Woulib in conjuring the ghosts of the city’s departed for this joyous pilgrimage. See for yourself why the dead have so much more fun than the living.

This show is free but capacity is limited. Reservations have now closed, but stay tuned, as we will let you know if more spots are released.

[Meeting place and route to be confirmed].

Co-produced by LIFT and Greenwich + Docklands International Festival and David Binder Productions, as part of Festivals in Transition — Global City Local City with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union, and the Institut Français.

Paralympic Heritage Flame at Stoke Mandeville

GDIF has been busy working with a stunning creative team on a programme of events at Stoke Mandeville and Aylesbury in early March. Commissioned by Aylesbury Vale District Council and supported by Arts Council England, this ambitious project will inauguarate an exciting new biennial Heritage Flame Ceremony at Stoke Mandeville supported by the International Paralympic Committee and the British Paralympic Association.

Paralympic Opening Ceremony - Ziya Azazi © Getty Images

Paralympic Opening Ceremony – Ziya Azazi © Getty Images

Why Stoke Mandeville?

1948 saw the commencement of the first ever organised athletic day for disabled athletes alongside the Olympic Games. The Stoke Mandeville Games, founded by neurosurgeon Sir Ludwig Guttmann on the lawns of Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire, transformed into the global phenomenon that is now the Paralympic Games.

Stoke Mandeville Games ©

Stoke Mandeville Games ©

The London 2012 Games and the Legacy

Building on the momentum of the London 2012 Games, including the Paralympic Games, and in recognition of Stoke Mandeville as the birthplace of the Paralympic Movement, the UK has been awarded the honour of involvement in all future Paralympic Games Torch Relays.

This March, ahead of the Sochi Winter Paralympic Games, Stoke Mandeville will host the first ever international leg of the Paralympic Torch Relay, and will become the first place in history to be involved in the Relay outside of the Games’ hosting country.

Paralympic Flame ©

Paralympic Flame ©

Heritage Flame Celebration ‘Spirit in Motion’ – Sun 2 March, 2014
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre 7:30pm, Free tickets via ballot

Enter the public ballot now (Deadline: Sun 16 February – click image below) for a chance to win free tickets to this celebratory occasion bringing together Paralympic athletes and live music, art and performance, including disabled aerial artists from the 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony, visual artist Rachel Gadsden, and performances by soprano Denise Leigh and by Andrea Begley, winner of BBC One’s “The Voice”.


Paralympic Heritage Flame Lighting Ceremony Broadcast – Fri 7 March, 2014
Tune in to the global broadcast of the Winter Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony in Sochi to watch the Paralympic Heritage Flame Lighting Ceremony. Follow the Paralympic Torch Relay from the Flame Lighting Ceremony at Stoke Mandeville Stadium to its joining with torches from 46 cities throughout Russia. This unified flame will be used in a final relay before the Opening Ceremony.

For more information on these events, please visit or the Paralympics’ site at

Paralympic Opening Ceremony © Deck Accessory Flickr

Paralympic Opening Ceremony © Deck Accessory Flickr

To share the Paralympic magic with you in Aylesbury and Stoke Mandeville, we invite you to continue connecting with us via our blog, Facebook and Twitter for updates on this exciting international artistic endeavour.


GDIF2014 Directie & Co. Site Visit

539042_10151106009941380_927651790_nBy Emily Thomas, Projects Administrator at GDIF

Sophie and I are busy pulling together the arrangements for GDIF2014 and recently organised a rain-soaked site visit with a Dutch company performing as part of Greenwich Fair. Yvonne van den Akker is one of the two directors of Directie & Co., whose show Laundry XL will visit GDIF this summer. This all-female performance weaves together elements of dance, theatre, visual art and, ironically, a bit of water. This is our first site visit with an artist for this year’s festival, and for me being new with GDIF, a great opportunity to walk the various festival spaces and start to imagine the physical reality of the festival amidst these months of planning.

Site Visit 20.1.14 004

I used to work on the Watch This Space Festival at the National Theatre, where Theatre Square in front of the building was our foremost site for the festival. Having such a choice of sites is still quite a novelty for me and we discussed with Yvonne a number of possible spaces for staging the performance, which has a processional element. The next stage will be to piece together the rest of the Greenwich Fair programme to see where all the elements best fit, so we can maximise each show’s potential. It’s a bit like a giant jigsaw puzzle.

Watch This Space 2011 courtesy of the National Theatre

Watch This Space 2011 courtesy of the National Theatre

Yvonne had a whistle stop tour in London, leaving and returning to Amsterdam in the same day. A brief but productive visit, and I hope that the company’s next visit in June will be sunnier for her.

Laundry XL by Directie & Co. (Photo by Cies de Vries Fotografie)

So while it is nice to now be back in the cosy, dry GDIF offices, for me this has been a very welcome introduction to GDIF2014. I feel that we’ve now properly met!


Support a Spectacle

We need your help to stage GDIF’s Opening Night Spectacular!

Muare, 20 June 2014 

GDIF is renowned for its free opening night spectaculars. Over the years, enthralled Festival audiences have witnessed a disaster movie in the sky, dancers scaling the front of the Queen’s House, a giant 12m puppet awakening and even a life-sized sperm whale. Staging such extraordinary, jaw-dropping occasions is hugely expensive  and to be able to continue to present them we need your help.

Muaré by Voalá; Photo credit Sergio Bolanos

Muaré by Voalá; Photo credit Sergio Bolanos

This year our planned opening night spectacle Muaré is set to be an astonishing spectacle in which aerial performers from the Spanish/Argentinian company Voalá swoop overhead on a giant “op art” mobile accompanied by live music. If you’ve seen De La Guarda, Fuerzabruta or marvelled at the staging of an Olympic or Paralympic opening ceremony you’ll have some idea of how incredible this event will be!

We need to raise an additional £5,000* to make this event happen so please help us achieve this by donating here.

Please support GDIF’s opening night today!

*Every pound you give will be matched through Arts Council Catalyst funding


New round of “Unlimited…” launched!

Following the successful Unlimited project which was at the heart of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad and celebrated the work of disabled artists on an unprecedented scale, Shape and Artsadmin have been awarded £1.5 million by Arts Council England to deliver a new three year programme of Unlimited commissions with Jo Verrent as Senior Producer and key partners including Creative Scotland, British Council, Southbank Centre and DaDaFest.

Performers in David Toole's The Impending Storm

David Toole, The Impending Storm. Commissioned for Unlimited 2012. Photo by Tim Cross.

Although not on the same scale of the first programme, this exciting development will offer a number of commissions and to develop, produce and show ambitious and high quality work, with mentoring support.

The programme will include festivals at Southbank Centre in 2014 and 2016 and showcases of new work across the country through partnerships with venues and organisations.

Claire Cunningham performs Ménage à Trois

Ménage à Trois by Claire Cunningham. Commissioned for Unlimited 2012.

On 9th of December Unlimited was launched at Tate Modern in London followed by another launch event up North, hosted by DaDaFest at the Bluecoat in Liverpool on 11th of December.

Manick Govinda and Tony Heaton speaking at the London launch event.Dean Rodney and Mark Williams from Heart ‘n Soul speaking at London launchTony Heaton, Joyce Wilson, Jo Verrent and Manick Govinda at London launch

Jo Verrent, Senior Producer for Unlimited, has written a lovely blog following the launches introducing Unlimited. Read Jo’s blog here.

There will be two open calls for applications across the three years of the programme. All applications will be through Artsadmin’s online commissions portal, unless for access reasons you wish to submit your application in another format.

Applications can now be accepted for the first open call. To apply or for more information please click here.

The Unlimited team will be holding two surgery days (in London and Liverpool) in January for anyone interested in applying to Unlimited who would like to talk to us about the scheme and its criteria. You can book a 30 minute session with one of the team. Read more…


Without Walls consortium


This gallery contains 2 photos.

Without Walls is a consortium of leading arts organisations and festivals dedicated to the development of the UK’s outdoor arts sector. The Associate Touring Network supports the onward touring of work commissioned and presented by Without Walls. Without Walls Trailer 2013, … Continue reading