Rowan Hoban tells us about The Lost Carnival

For me, there is simply nothing as exciting as dreaming up an event that is entirely new, utterly unique and absolutely enchanting – and then inviting an audience along not simply to stare in wonder but actively bring that event to life, to fill it with their enthusiasm and lodge it in their memories forever.

With ‘The Lost Carnival’ we set out to create a spectacular outdoor theatrical family show, combining enthralling installations, circus, music, visual trickery and sideshows – all at play around a central, original story brim-full of brilliant characters and whose outcome is shaped by the audience. In everything we do as an organisation, we always try our very hardest to take families out of their day to day lives and into a magical world, where they feel a genuine sense of wonder and feel themselves to be an integral part of the action.

Lost Carnival_Strongman-5631credit Andrew Allcock.jpg

Image by Andrew Allcock

The idea for ‘The Lost Carnival’ was born out of conversations we were having about how incredible our audiences are at our weekend summer arts event, the ‘Just So Festival’. Every year families turn up in their thousands and every year they knock us for six with how amazingly creative they are, how prepared they are to throw away their inhibitions and dance, play and create alongside our musicians, performers, artists and production team.  Without them dressing up and throwing themselves so whole-heartedly into the event, it would achieve a fraction of its incredible success; we saw how powerful an experience it could be when the boundaries between performer and audience become increasingly blurred and so we wanted to create an event where they were even more integrated into the story, to pull them into a fictional world and to make their contribution even more imperative to the outcome.

Along with our production partner So It Is and the award-winning theatre company LASTheatre, we set about building a story which would extend beyond the live experience. As well as coming along to the event (taking place this year in Queen’s Park in Crewe on the 28th/29th/30th May) families can immerse themselves beforehand in the Carnival world, listening to the thrilling back-story of the Carnival via podcasts, learning the Carnival dance and creating incredible costumes www.thelostcarnival.org.uk

Lost Carnival_Crowd-5917 Andrew Allcock

Image by Andrew Allcock

The wonderful thing about all outdoor events – and I know this only too well from my own experience – is that families can engage on any level that suits them, there’s no pressure to sit still and keep quiet, they can join in for as much or as little as they like. At the event itself the families will be able to determine the ending by choosing their favourite acts and voting for the winning carnival troupe – will it be the loveable Ingenues, who narrowly avoided a tragic fate last year, or their arch-rivals, the dark but charismatic Bird troupe?  Regardless of who takes the day, we will promise those who come along that they’ll enjoy a thrilling experience, visiting a continually surprising, visually engaging world with incredible, top quality performers anxiously waiting to meet their audience and involve them in the drama.

LASTheatre are working with us throughout the summer to create immersive worlds that engage families: in addition to the Lost Carnival we’re working together on La Lune as part of Barnaby Festival in Macclesfield. Curious happenings will unfold across the town throughout a week in June, including a roving illuminated moon installation, a pop up Astronomer’s laboratory, a theatre show and festival,  with a call to the residents of Macclesfield to fill the town with starlight.

Rowan Hoban, Director, Wild Rumpus. Follow Wild Rumpus on twitter @_wildrumpus

The Lost Carnival is at Queen’s Park, Crewe 28 – 30 May www.thelostcarnival.org.uk
La Lune is at Barnaby Festival – 18 – 25 June www.lalune.org.uk
The Just So Festival 2016 – 19 /20 / 21 August www.justsofestival.org.uk

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