Stu Mayhew – on photographing GDIF

Hi and welcome to my GDIF2016 photo blog !

My name is Stu Mayhew and I am an amateur photographer based in Greenwich where I help run Aperture Woolwich Photographic Society – one of the oldest camera clubs in the country. I have been photographing the Greenwich +Docklands International Festival for many years now and it’s always an honour to be asked back. In the build up to this year’s event I have been bust charging camera batteries, getting my memory cards sorted, cleaning lenses and dusting off my trusty GDIF Press and Media vest!

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The first event of this year’s GDIF took place at the Queen’s House in a specially commissioned show marking the 400th anniversary of this beautiful building right in the heart of Greenwich. The show consisted of digital projection onto the facia of the building, dance, music and narration by Sir Ian McKellen.

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I arrived at 8PM to allow myself plenty of time to talk to crew and production members about vantage points and so on, as well as to catch up with other GDIF photographers who I only get to see once a year. I spoke with Rebecca Brower, the costumes and scenic designer, and enquired into whether I could shoot the event from a platform on one of the lighting towers. A quick word with one of the riggers and I was up on my lofty perch with a perfect view over the whole crowd and production area. I set up my tripod, got my cameras (I shoot with two, a Canon 5D and a 6D) and watched the crowds gather below me. As dusk fell into night the show began – the front of the Queen’s House transforming in front of our eyes – the projections were amazing and there were dancers and a performance by Sharon D Clarke –  the whole show was transfixing. The finale was a cascade of pyrotechnics with fireworks shooting into the night sky. As smoke drifted over the audience a huge cheer went up and GDIF2016 was under way. I think it was one of the best opening nights of the festival that I can remember.

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Chloe Loftus Dance: Loneliness and an Act of Strangers

I spent my formative years growing up in New Zealand, a place with plenty of space where people say hello as they pass you and doors are left open. I’ve lived in the UK for 20 years now and I can’t help but notice the steady shrinking of our sense of community, where social engagement is replaced by screen time. George Monbiot refers to it as ’the age of loneliness’ and describes the tragic and sometimes fatal result of this loneliness as seen through increased anxiety, depression and addiction. “Social isolation is as potent a cause of early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Loneliness is twice as deadly as obesity.”

Chloe Loftus Dance 'Act of Strangers' (Image 1 - James Merryweather)

It is this lack of interpersonal communication that is inspiring my current work. ‘Act of Strangers’ looks at the potential of the stranger standing next to you and seeks to encourage you to look up and engage with the world. An unexpected conversation and smile from a stranger has the power to shift your mood and lift your spirits.

Outdoor work is wonderful in its ability to access all walks of life so it feels an ideal platform for this work. It’s been a really interesting process developing this work… the challenge of how to deal with a serious subject matter including mental health issues in a way which engages and lifts audiences. Through wonderful directorial support from Gerald Tyler and the physicality of my fellow dancer Hugh Stanier, we have created a work that I believe is touching but also physically dynamic and engaging, hopefully leaving audiences uplifted and inspired.

Chloe Loftus Dance 'Act of Strangers' (Image 2 - James Merryweather)

We’re really looking forward to bringing our work to GDIF.

Cubitt Steps, Canary Wharf
Saturday 2 July | 15:00 & 16:15
More information here

Act of Strangers was commissioned by Articulture and the Wales Outdoor Arts Commissioning Consortium and is touring throughout Summer 2016. For more info see

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.

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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.

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

GDIF2016 programme announced

In celebration of our 21st birthday we’re presenting an extra special programme that includes 6 World Premieres, 5 UK Premieres and 12 London Premieres.

Highlights include:

Presented in association with Royal Museums Greenwich
Fri 24 June 10pm
Tickets £15 (£12 concessions) Buy now
Substantial FREE promenade (standing) places available on the day.
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, SE10
GDIF’s opening event is a specially commissioned spectacular marking the 400th anniversary of The Queen’s House and its forthcoming re-opening this year. A mythic contemplation of the rise and fall of civilisations, inspired by Britain’s first classical building and its architect Inigo Jones, the production is directed by GDIF’s Bradley Hemmings and brings together video projections by BAFTA Award-winning Tal Rosner, ground-breaking contemporary hip hop from Avant Garde Dance, music by Novello Award winning composer Dan Jones, performance and pyrotechnics from the German outdoor theatre company Pan.Optikum, with narration featuring Olivier award-winning Sharon D Clarke.
Presented as part of the London Festival of Architecture 2016

Sat 25 June 1 – 9.30pm
Sun 26 June 12 – 7pm
Greenwich Town Centre, Cutty Sark Gardens, Old Royal Naval College, SE10
GDIF’s annual ‘festival within a festival’ spills out on to the streets of a car-free Greenwich making it bigger than ever. The largest and most intensive programme of street arts in the capital, with over 21 productions include circus, theatre, dance, street games, cabaret, live art and mass participation.
Shows include Campervan of Love from award-winning New Art Club. This funny, musical, dancing adventure for all the family takes place in and around a bright pink vintage VW campervan. Other highlights include Block, a new collaboration from NoFit State Circus and Motionhouse Dance; Ye Gods, in which an apocalypse is unleashed across the houses and streets of a model village, courtesy of Whalley Range All Stars; an ingenious mechanical dance between a robotic machine and a percussionist from Germany’s Ulik; and a revealing 21st century morality play entitled Peregrinus from the Polish theatre company KTO. The streets of Greenwich will also provide the stage for some moments of mass participation with the opportunity to join in a step by step recreation of the audition scene from A Chorus Line in Audition Project, led by Miss High Leg Kick (leg warmers optional), and Ida Barr will be creating her very own block party with live mixing, cockney singalong and a mass participation Hokey Cokey.

Sat 25 June 12 noon onwards
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, E20
As the foundations of a new cultural district, “Olympicopolis”, start to be laid, you are invited to take part in a spectacular architectural event devised by the French artist Olivier Grossetête. Over several days, hundreds of cardboard boxes will be crafted into the building blocks of a democratically assembled building, built solely through human power and collective endeavour. On the final day, you can watch in amazement – and lend a hand – as extraordinary new buildings rise from the ground.
Part of the Foundation for FutureLondon’s Olympicopolis Season
Presented as part of the London Festival of Architecture 2016

Thur 30 June & Fri 1 July 10pm
Tickets £7 Buy now
Substantial FREE promenade (standing) and some bench seating available on the day.
Bethnal Green Gardens, Tower Hamlets E2 9PA
Polish company Teatr Biuro Podrózy present the world premiere of Silence. Physical theatre, stilts, fire, unusual staging, puppetry and music tell a story of refugees and migrants caught up in a spiral of war, fences and the dream of escape. This production has been co-commisioned by GDIF, Freedom Festival and Hull UK City of Culture 2017 as a sequel to Teatr Biuro Podrózy‘s legendary production Carmen Funebre.

Mon 27 June – Fri 1 July 4 – 7pm
Well Hall Pleasaunce, Eltham, SE9
Presented in association with Greenwich Dance
Moat Island provides the setting for a daily outdoor arts adventure for intrepid under 12s, a site which was once the former home of E Nesbit, author of The Railway Children. Featuring an after-school programme of dance, theatre, puppetry, workshops and games, highlights include a series of interactive automata from the Catalan company Tombs Creatius, dance on an inflatable bouncy castle from Darren Ellis Dance and workshops and performances from Plunge Boom created by Ben Faulks, aka CBeebies’ Mr Bloom.

Fri 1 July 1pm & 5.30pm, Sat 2 July 1 – 5pm
Canary Wharf, Tower Hamlets, E14
A journey across the parks and piazzas of Canary Wharf with GDIF’s now legendary annual outdoor dance extravaganza. This year’s programme features the London premiere of You and I Know, a new duet from Candoco Dance Company, choreographed by award winning choreographer and theatre director Arlene Phillips. Other highlights include In My Head from Beeldend Danstheater Telder (Netherlands), a multidisciplinary visual dance performance combined with art and music that takes place in a 5 metre high three dimensional sculpture of a head, through and around which performers climb and dance; SLICE, a new production from the acclaimed Wired Aerial Theatre choreographed by Sharon Watson (Phoenix Dance); H.O.H from Far From The Norm, who combine hip hop and contemporary dance in a thrilling exploration of football in multi-cultural Britain; and Phone Box by Corey Baker Dance, an energetic and vibrant outdoor production featuring an iconic vintage red telephone box.

Sat 2 July 3 – 9pm
Royal Arsenal and Woolwich Town Centre SE18
This street arts programme takes inspiration from Woolwich’s manufacturing and industrial past, whilst looking towards new cultural ambitions with an array of ingenious events, including a herd of mechanical animals occupying a park, rotating musicians taking to the streets and an astonishing performance on a 13 tonne digger. A major highlight will be the London premiere of acclaimed physical theatre company Tangled Feet’s new installation performance piece Emerge/ncy.

Sat 2 July 10pm
Royal Artillery Barracks,Woolwich, SE18
GDIF’s afternoon Ignite! programme is followed by this year’s spectacular finale – a fusion of percussion and awesome fireworks from the French company Les Commandos Percu and the Spanish street theatre group Deabru Beltzak. Out of nowhere drummers march towards each other in a wild parade which culminates in a theatrically staged fusion of percussion and pyrotechnics. This production will tour to Luton, Leicester, Hull, Doncaster and Liverpool as part of GDIF’s pioneering Global Streets national touring initiative supported by Arts Council England.

Explore the full programme here

Without Walls 2016 Programme Announcment

Following on from a successful open call, Without Walls has just announced the 13 shows that they will be commissioning and supporting in 2016!

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.

Greenwich+Docklands International Festival is a proud member of Without Walls, which is also composed of Brighton Festival, Hat Fair, Norfolk & Norwich Festival, Salisbury International Festival, Out There International Festival of Circus & Street Arts and Stockton International Riverside Festival. It is also comprised of affiliated members Just So Festival, Chesire and Showzam! Blackpool with Creation Centre Partner 101 Outdoor Arts Creation Centre.

We’re thrilled to be having many of these companies with us this coming festival (GDIF2016). More details to come soon!

"Urban Astronaut" by HIGHLY SPRUNG Commissioned by Without Walls

“Urban Astronaut” by HIGHLY SPRUNG
Commissioned by Without Walls

"Bed" by ENTELECHY ARTS Commissioned by Without Walls

Commissioned by Without Walls

"BLOCK" by MOTIONHOUSE & NOFIT STATE CIRCUS Commissioned by Without Walls

Commissioned by Without Walls

"Camper Van Of Love" by NEW ART CLUB Commissioned by Without Walls

“Camper Van Of Love” by NEW ART CLUB
Commissioned by Without Walls

"Le Cheval Solitaire" by ABOUTNOWISH Commissioned by Without Walls

“Le Cheval Solitaire” by ABOUTNOWISH
Commissioned by Without Walls

"A New Duet (working title)" by CANDOCO DANCE COMPANY Commissioned by Without Walls

“A New Duet (working title)” by CANDOCO DANCE COMPANY
Commissioned by Without Walls

"The Fantastical Flying Exploratory Laboratory" by LES ENFANTS TERRIBLES Commissioned by Without Walls

“The Fantastical Flying Exploratory Laboratory” by LES ENFANTS TERRIBLES
Commissioned by Without Walls

"H.O.H." by FAR FROM THE NORM Commissioned by Without Walls

Commissioned by Without Walls

 Commissioned by Without Walls LANCE MOI DANS L’AIR LANCE MOI DANS L’AIRZoom inRead more "Lance Moi Dans L'Air" by JOLI VYANN Commissioned by Without Walls

Commissioned by Without Walls
LANCE MOI DANS L’AIRZoom inRead more
“Lance Moi Dans L’Air” by JOLI VYANN
Commissioned by Without Walls

"Miss High Leg Kick's Audition Project" by FRANCESCA BAGLIONE/MISS HIGH LEG KICK Supported by Without Walls

“Miss High Leg Kick’s Audition Project” by FRANCESCA BAGLIONE/MISS HIGH LEG KICK
Supported by Without Walls

"Masquerade" by YELLO BRICK Commissioned by Without Walls

“Masquerade” by YELLO BRICK
Commissioned by Without Walls

"Project_Vee" by CIRCUS GEEKS X PANGOTTIC Commissioned by Without Walls

Commissioned by Without Walls

"Phone Box" by COREY BAKER DANCE Commissioned by Without Walls

Commissioned by Without Walls