GDIF2016 – Deaf Men Dancing

We’re highlighting some of the companies and performances scheduled for this summer’s festival. First up is an introduction to Deaf Men Dancing and their show TEN, written by Deaf Men Dancing’s Choreographer and Director Mark Smith

Deaf Men Dancing is an all-male deaf dance company with a fusion of different styles of dance incorporating British Sign-Language into movement. The essence of my work is to use sign language as an inherent part of the creative process and integrate it into the movement vocabulary, rather than use it as a commentary to the performance.

Deaf Men Dancing - TEN 6

The ideas I developed for TEN, were inspired by double acts like Laurel & Hardy, Flanagan & Allen, Morecambe & Wise, Abbott & Costello and Gilbert & George. I was also inspired by vaudeville & music hall acts.

When I was a kid, Charlie Chaplin was my idol. I grew up watching Chaplin’s films. The silent film format was accessible for me to watch because it was very visual and even had “subtitles” or just “titles” for me to read. That’s where I got the idea of getting the dancers to hold printed cards with text to the audience during the performance. While I was researching for TEN, I discovered that Chaplin was good friends with a deaf actor Granville “Red” Redmond, who appeared in Chaplin’s films. Chaplin admired the natural expressiveness of a deaf person using American Sign Language. Chaplin’s interest in Deaf Culture gave me the idea to incorporate a deaf awareness course into TEN but in the form of Ten Commandments.


In the 60s, Gilbert & George famously created a live-art performance called Singing Sculpture where they stood on a table for eight hours. Gilbert held leather gloves & George held a walking stick. Their faces were painted in silver. They mimed to an old music hall song called Underneath The Arches – a song in which two tramps describe the pleasures of sleeping rough. It was a telling choice, harking back to prewar England and traditions of vaudeville, while also identifying with the fringes of society. Singing Sculpture gave me the idea for TEN. I’ve collaborated with designer Ryan Dawson Laight, who designed DMD’s previous outside performance, Alive!, and he’s designed a table for two dancers to perform on and deliver “speeches” to the audience in a form of Speaker’s Corner or Soapbox such as those that used to to be located on the corner of Park Lane and Cumberland Gate. The table is also a kind of Pandora’s Box, containing surprise props for the dancers to use for the performance.

I collaborated with deaf musician and composer Sean Chandler to develop ten different tracks and I was lucky to have sound designer Syd Funnell onboard to provide the soundscape for TEN.

Deaf Men Dancing will perform TEN at Greenwich Fair on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 June. Times & location tbc.

Deaf Men Dancing - TEN 8

Follow Mark Smith on Twitter @DeafMenDancing1
Deaf Men Dancing on YouTube
Deaf Men Dancing website

Tombs Creatius at GDIF2014

tombscreatius_logoby Peppe Cannata
International Manager of Tombs Creatius Company
Facebook: Companyia-Tombs-Creatius
Twitter: @tombscreatius
Colors de Monstre at GDIF2014

I met Toni from Tombs Creatius company,a few years ago and really liked his installations and his work. Since 2010, I have had the pleasure of being part of this great team

5990717884_667a82623b_oThis year at GDIF we will show our first project called “Monster Colours”, several participatory installations for audiences of all ages. The idea for this project came about in 2008 when Tombs Creatius was commissioned to build a collection of games for the “Festival Internacional de las Artes” (FIA) in Costa Rica.


“Colors de Monstre” is a collection of 25 games built in wood and designed for all ages. With colorful illustrations, we create an expressive and exciting atmosphere in the streets and plazas.


We challenge the public to play, using their mind, body, wit and immagination, with a bit of strategy as they figure out how to play each game. The public touch, interact whilst playing with our installations.The public is our protagonist, our games are the “atrezzo”,the tools, for the people playing.

A shed load of ideas: behind the scenes with Haywood Hix

A blog post from Haywood Hix (established 2013)

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A shed load of ideas

Earnest companions, overalls, invention, a pet cat, everyday objects, ramshackle engineering, precise timing, deadpan comedy and a catapult of faith, in this chain reaction of a show.

A collaboration between performer Jon Hicks and artist Mark Haywood.

Created last year,  and performed at Out There Festival in Great Yarmouth.

Lot of stuff

Lot of stuff

This year we received Arts Council funding to further develop the show and make it able to tour, we have half a dozen gigs this summer and are looking further ahead to a the possibility of a full tour next year.

It’s a complicated show, with this domino effect chain reaction machine.

Ball run balance

Ball run balance

We’ve  looked at a lot of different reference, Fischli and Weiss, Mouse Trap, Rube Goldberg inspired machines…

Goldberg is the sort of US Heath Robinson, all about these “home made”, complex, chain reaction machines made to execute relatively simple tasks.

Not funny plank

Not funny plank

Both of us art college trained, with Fine Art degrees, we built the props, customised the shed and created the machine with a lot of head scratching, debating and failure before  success

Mark and I have known each other a long time and have a shared history of propmaking.

The shed and props remain based in Norfolk.

Shed on trailer

Shed on trailer

Since April:

Mark  found a fantastic local trailer maker who is interested in the show, enthusiastic and aside from attaching our shed to a custom built trailer, he made a new roof opening system with gas filled pistons, which I don’t quite understand.

Set for a show

Set for a show

The machine we made last year has been consolidated, new in places and improved.

We’ve really tried to make sure we can control the machine more, have more choice about when it will work or not, but it’s a complex and temperamental thing.

Wheel barrow delivery

Wheel barrow delivery

We had 4 days of rehearsals, last week which was exciting, we have Matt Rudkin of Inconvenient Spoof back with us directing. we’ve kept a lot of last years show, added some new stuff, tried out new things, thrown some out, kept some in.

Matt Rudking trying it out

Matt Rudking trying it out

In rehearsals we’ve focused on nailing down a very choreographed routine and making sure the visual gags pay off.

Watering can

Watering can

We also have a new crew member on board,  Joe Mulcrone, who is there as roadie, stage hand, technician and understudy performer. Recommended by Matt Rudkin, he has been great.

He tried a run off the show in rehearsals with Matt and will definitely do a day of shows on tour.

Joe (new recruit) trying it out

We are off on a short tour this summer, Norfolk and Norwich festival was in mid May, shows went well, it was great to get it out there live again.

Lot’s of issues came up of course, but we felt it went well., we’re excited about the tour.

Can this be funny?

Things will inevitably change in the machine and the show as we tour around, but I think they will be small and gradual, the domino effect seems to not only be integral when setting off the machine but in the tweaking and engineering of it and the show too.

Last tweaks before a set off

Last tweaks before a set off

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!

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!

Dancing in the City… – By Stu Mayhew


This gallery contains 11 photos.

 By Stu Mayhew Saturday saw the last day of this years Greenwich and Docklands Festival, ending at two great locations. First up was Dancing City GDIF’s annual outdoor dance extravaganza! It gives you a chance to sample lots of different alfresco dance … Continue reading

At the rehearsal of Tangled Feet’s ‘One Million’ – By Stu Mayhew


This gallery contains 5 photos.

By Stu Mayhew Over the last couple of years GDIF have brought some spectacular outdoor theatre to Woolwich center and this year Tangled Feet bring their One Million production into town. Rather than just photograph the actual performance’s (taking place on … Continue reading

Greenwich Fair through the photographer’s lense – By Stu Mayhew


This gallery contains 19 photos.

By Stu Mayhew Saturday, 22 June 2013   Today was the start of the Greenwich Fair , accompanied this year by the Island Fair. A chance to immerse yourself in the weird and wonderful world of performers from around the world. … Continue reading

“Everyday Hero” – The ideas behind the show by Bicycle Ballet


This gallery contains 4 photos.

22o, how did we, Bicycle Ballet, come up with our show, Everyday Hero The idea for the show started in 2009 when we were running our first ever stand alone, Bicycle Ballet, workshop in Lambeth and a blind woman emailed to … Continue reading

“Splash!” – And the real weather control


This gallery contains 5 photos.

By co-founder and performer Susan Momoko Hingley, Pin the Tale  Splash! Is Pin the Tale’s first outdoor show aimed for children and adults.  We are over the moon to be performing at GDIF this summer.  It is a fun, imaginative piece … Continue reading