Throughout the year FESTIVAL.ORG delivers an ambitious programme of new productions and commissions. Committed to breaking new ground for outdoor arts in the UK and internationally, FESTIVAL.ORG’s initiatives encompass in-house productions, residencies, investment in R&D, local engagement projects, new commissions and co-commissions.
Over the years FESTIVAL.ORG has delivered large scale productions and ceremonies, international outdoor theatre productions and co-productions, community engagement and place-making projects as well as a wide range of commissioned and co-commissioned new work encompassing theatre, dance, circus, street arts and installation.
This dance performance by Artistic Director and Choreographer Jeanefer Jean-Charles was inspired by nineteenth century studio photographs of black men, women and children. Exploring a complex, but often forgotten black presence in pre-Windrush Britain, this performance calls attention to previously “hidden figures” and challenges historical and contemporary perceptions.
First presented at GDIF 2020, the full production is now touring across the UK. Commissioned by FESTIVAL.ORG, Without Walls, and Hat Fair.
A conversation between two passengers on a bus is the starting point for this intimate yet epic story, blurring the line between reality and fiction in an immersive and all-encompassing experience. First presented in Melbourne, FESTIVAL.ORG worked with artist Jessica Wilson to re-conceive and produce Passenger for these UK performances, set against the background of a journey through London’s Royal Docks.
This iconic, optimistic love story about teenage boys Jamie and Ste was given a homecoming in a reimagined dance-theatre production of Jonathan Harvey’s well-loved play. Co-directed by Bradley Hemmings and Robby Graham, and produced by FESTIVAL.ORG, Beautiful Thing took place on and around the original south Thamesmead locations where Harvey’s play was set and marked the 50th anniversary of the first families moving into this utopian riverside community.
Icarus is an outdoor dance-theatre interpretation by Southpaw Dance Company of the famous Greek myth exploring a universal human story: the tension between ambition and reality. Using daring physicality, leaps, jumps and lifting, audiences experience Icarus’ obsession with the skies and his quest to achieve flight. Co-commissioned by FESTIVAL.ORG and The Place through Stomping Ground, Icarus has been presented across the UK and Europe.
Great North Star
Commissioned by DCMS and produced by FESTIVAL.ORG, Great North Star brought the 2018 Great Exhibition of the North to a spectacular close in Newcastle Gateshead, with a large-scale ceremony featuring narration, mass choreography, music, aerial performance and pyrotechnics. Written by Louise Wallwein and directed by Bradley Hemmings, the performance was presented in association with Great North Run and broadcast by the BBC.
This spectacular processional performance, featuring giant puppetry from the French company L’Homme Debout, celebrated the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, which gave some women in the UK the right to vote for the first time. FESTIVAL.ORG worked with the company and local cultural practitioners to seed a range of community engagement elements that were embedded within the show, celebrating local stories and themes. To date Rise! has been presented in Woolwich, Hull, Luton and Doncaster.
70 years to the day that the Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Dock from the Caribbean, this specially commissioned installation saw the names of the 492 individuals who arrived on that ship transcribed in photolumiscent powder onto the ground around the Cutty Sark. Accompanied by a soundscape written by Roy Williams, in collaboration with the Caribbean Social Forum and composer Darren J Benjamin, FESTIVAL.ORG conceived and produced this reflective tribute to the Windrush generation.
Famed for its legendary street theatre production Carmen Funebre, which explored the impact of war on civilians, Polish company Teatr Biuro Podrozy presented the world premiere of a sequel, co-commissioned by FESTIVAL.ORG, Freedom Festival and Hull UK City of Culture 2017. Physical theatre, fire, unusual staging, puppetry and music picked up on the continuing story of refugees and migrants caught up in a spiral of war, fences, and the dream of escape. Silence has since been seen across the UK and Europe.
Heritage Flame Ceremony
Celebrating diversity, sport and the arts, in 2016 Stoke Mandeville Stadium hosted a Paralympic Flame Lighting Ceremony, the only one to be held outside of the host nation, Brazil. Conceived and produced by FESTIVAL.ORG, the ceremony brought 100 local residents together with performers from StopGap Dance and visual artist Rachel Gadsden to celebrate Stoke Mandeville as the birthplace of the Paralympic movement.
Conceived and produced by FESTIVAL.ORG, this specially commissioned spectacle marked the 400th anniversary of the Queen’s House and its reopening in 2016. Featuring Sharon D Clarke, the voice of Sir Ian McKellen and Avant Garde Dance Company, The House brought together narration, digital projection, dance, music and pyrotechnics in a production which reflected on stories of migration on the night following the 2016 European Referendum.
The Four Fridas
Conceived and produced by FESTIVAL.ORG and inspired by the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, The Four Fridas was presented as part of a wider intergovernmental year of Mexico in the UK and featured a ritual performance by the Voladoras – flying women – from Mexico, alongside aerial choreography from Wired Aerial Theatre, dance from Schechter Junior, video projection, original music and pyrotechnics.
Great North Run One Million
Newcastle Gateshead Quayside and the River Tyne were transformed into a huge outdoor arena for an Opening Ceremony which marked the start of the official countdown to the millionth finish of the Great North Run in South Shields in September 2014. Written by David Almond and directed by Bradley Hemmings, the production told the incredible story of the North East, and featured local hero Mark Knopfler, Mercury Music Prize nominees The Unthanks, platinum-selling drum’n’bass Chase & Status, Ant and Dec, Jill Halfpenny and Tim Healy.
Commissioned as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad from an original idea by FESTIVAL.ORG, The Garden offers gravity-defying outdoor theatre from Graeae, one of the UK’s leading D/deaf & disabled theatre companies. As beautifully composed music fills the sky, Graeae take to four-metre high sway poles to create new stories high in the air, creating a contemporary Garden of Eden in which love and verdant growth and sweet-smelling flowers struggle to survive in an ever-changing environment. Having enchanting people across the UK and Europe, The Garden has also travelled to Brazil and will be seen in Japan as part of the Tokyo 2020 Cultural Olympiad programme.