Festival Foray

Feature in Issue 6-4 | Winter 1994

With the ever increasing number of festivals of mime and physical theatre, both in the UK and abroad, companies need almost never tour the small-scale circuit again; sign up to play at every one and your diary will be full. On the following pages we review three of them: Tim Eagle recounts the antics at the Kolin International Mime Festival in the Czech Republic; staying on the continent Annette Lust gives us a taste of how the French do things in her report from Mimos 94 in Perigueux; and Toby Wilsher of Trestle Theatre Company describes his experiences at the Mladen Workshop, part of the International Workshop festival. We finish off by looking forward to the delights of the 1995 London International Mime Festival and the array of international artists that will be taking part. In the review section of this issue there are individual pieces from this year’s Battersea Arts Centre British Festival of Visual Theatre and an overview of the mime and physical theatre performances performed on the Edinburgh Fringe last August. Andrew Ayers starts us off with an overview of the state of modern festival-going…

How does one begin to consider the plethora of festivals on offer? With new festivals being created each year (for example Flux in Norwich, which runs for the first time in January next year) and established events gaining in weight and stature with each season that passes – Mimos in Perigueux is in its 12th year and the London International Mime Festival in its 17th year. What more proof is needed that mime and physical theatre are flourishing art forms? Festivals, as well as being a reflection of this growth, are also an excellent way of stimulating it. In theory the greater the clout of a festival’s publicity machine the more likelihood there is of companies getting a wider audience than if they were playing isolated gigs in an Arts Centre programme. However, one often suspects that in fact the reverse is true, and that festivals attract a more specialised audience across a range of work. This of course has its advantages: festivals bring together like-minded people, who come to learn and to swap ideas, and indeed many festivals include workshops, training and conferences as part of their programme. The International Workshop Festival is of course entirely dedicated to fulfilling this area of demand. Festival 94 in Kendal and Visions 94 in Brighton, among others, also ran such events. To what extent festivals follow current trends and to what extent they shape them is unclear. Many festivals commission work, for example Nottingham’s Now 94, which this year had four specially commissioned pieces, and Visions 94 which also produced new work. What this does indicate however is the importance of festivals as a revenue-generator and showcase for the world of mime and physical theatre.

So that you can get out there and enjoy some of the delights on offer, here is a retrospective of some of the delights of 1994 and a taste of things to come…

This article in the magazine

Issue 6-4
p. 16