Kendal Festival 1993

Feature in Issue 5-3 | Autumn 1993

Once again, the Kendal Festival provided a rich mixture of creative work and training for both local and national audiences. The rare opportunity for practitioners, promoters, etc to mingle and share the Festival’s atmosphere continues to be of paramount importance to the artform, in addition to being one of the most enjoyable festival experiences in this country. The newly opened main house theatre complemented much of the performance work, with the studio maintaining its intimacy, despite poor sightlines and very hard chairs.

Of the international work on offer, three shows were by Spanish companies, and gave all spectators an excellent chance to see a stunning variety of work from one country.

Mal Pelo performed their subtle and seductive piece of dance theatre – Sur Perros Sur. Despite a much-used starting point of two men and a woman attempting true communication and understanding, but ultimately failing, the clear use of symbolism and national concerns took it into another league. Perhaps one of the most outstanding features was their use of set and lighting, which I know impressed some UK performers. They actually utilised the set beautifully, almost underplaying their actions and images. This was helped enormously by their easiness and lightness on stage.

In stark contrast, there was Gloxars. This was a family show about three convicts escaping from prison, only to become disillusioned by what awaited them outside. The three clown-like characters bounced, farted and tumbled their way through an entertaining series of adventures with extraordinary energy. They sustained a directness and gritty quality to their ménage à trois that some of the UK audience found almost unnerving. This maybe is more of a reflection on the popularity of genuine family shows in Spain than on the company or audience.

Finally on the Spanish menu came Bambalina Titelles performing their version of Cervantes’ Don Quixote. The two young performers are expert puppeteers, and succeeded in creating the most enchanting atmosphere and characters for the engrossed audiences. Many people had not experienced such imaginative object theatre before, and obviously delighted in the mischievous rapport between manipulators and puppets.

Other internationally based work appearing in the Festival came from Austria’s Theatre YBY and the unique combination of Scotland and China in Theatre du Pif. All in all, the programme combination offered a most challenging mixture of work that emulates the immense variety of quality material on offer.

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Issue 5-3
p. 14