Sarah Bird of Just So Festival on weekend camping, Without Walls, & exciting theatrical experiences for families

Sarah Bird, Co-Director of Just So Festival, tells us how Without Walls and a consortium of the UK’s leading outdoor arts festivals are enabling bold and exciting new theatrical experiences for families…

At Just So Festival, our weekend camping arts festival for families, we have spent the last 9 years taking audiences on incredible adventures of the imagination, creating mischief and mayhem, indulging in raucous pillow fights and sumptuous midnight feasts, exploring and adventuring through the woods and down to the lake, dancing, playing and creating together under the stars.

Look Up. Photo: Edd Casey

For the last 3 years, the festival has been lucky enough to be part of Without Walls, a consortium of the UK’s leading outdoor arts festivals, a group of organisations who work together to commission new shows spanning all art forms. Being part of Without Walls has encouraged us to take more risks in our programming and has helped to bring incredibly bold and exciting new work to Just So Festival.

The Bewonderment Machine

We’re thrilled that this year’s commissions include a wide variety of outstanding quality family-friendly shows including dance, theatre, circus, puppetry and music.  Our festival families can expect to experience Without Walls treats including: The Bewonderment Machine by A Bird in the Hand Theatre, a magical cycle-powered ride-on carousel and miniature theatrical flight of the imagination; Bicycle Boy by Helen Eastman Production, a riotous bicycle pedal – powered musical for children aged 6 – 10 and their families and Look Up by Hikapee, aerial circus, puppetry and performance that reveals what we can marvel about nature when we ‘look up’.

The Playground of Illusions. Photo: Brett Harkness

There’ll be The band at the end of the world! by Ramshacklicious, a promenade performance with raucous brass music and a home-made water spurting, flaming roaming vehicle; Modern Warrior by Rosie Kay Dance Company a group dance and martial arts stand-off from the company that won Best Independent Dance Company in 2015 by the National Dance Awards and The Playground of Illusions by Travelling Light Circus, science meets art – three giant ‘steampunk’ machines with awe-inspiring visual and sound illusions within!

Band at the end of the world! Photo: Paul Blakemore

In 2017 lots of the feedback we received from families was that they had watched some of their favourite shows 2 or 3 times across the weekend and that the familiarity with the narrative and the performers had enhanced the experience each time. We’re sure that our audiences will want to engage in this year’s shows again and again.

Modern Warrior. Photo: Dani Bower

It’s an incredibly strong and diverse line-up for 2018, and complimented by a cast of hundreds of musicians, storytellers, acrobats, performers, dancers, crafters and workshop leaders it us undoubtedly our most ambitious programme yet. We’re particularly pleased that our audiences will be able to enjoy A Bird In The Hand and Travelling Light Circus who are local north west based artists that we love.

Just So Festival is the internationally renowned arts festival dedicated solely to families. With a love of stories and childhood escapades at its heart, it is a wonderland of literature, arts, theatre, dance, music, comedy and creative pursuits underpinned by the Tribal Tournament, the most bonkers competition in the land. 17 – 19 August, Rode Hall Estate, Cheshire

Without Walls is managed by XTRAX and is a consortium of the UK’s leading outdoor arts festivals and organisations, bringing the best in new outdoor performance to diverse audiences all over the UK. It uses its networks to provide opportunities for UK artists to develop bold new large and small-scale shows spanning all art-forms, suitable for national and international touring.  In 2018 Without Walls celebrates its’ 11th year and from April 2018 will be an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation,

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