Photo gallery: Norfolk and Norwich all set for 17 days of festival fun

Director William Galinsky is gearing up for this year's Norfolk and Norwich Festival. Photo: Bill Smith Director William Galinsky is gearing up for this year's Norfolk and Norwich Festival. Photo: Bill Smith

Friday, May 2, 2014
7:00 AM

It’s been 18 months in the planning and in a week’s time the curtain will go up on this year’s Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

Artistic director William Galinsky talks to arts correspondent Emma Knights about what treats are in store.

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William Galinsky’s views on his top 10 festival events not to miss

• The People’s Tower

Saturday, May 10, throughout the day outside the Forum, free.

“A glorious, crazy project in which an army of volunteers help French artist Olivier Grossetête construct a replica of the tower of St Peter Mancroft Church out of giant cardboard bricks.”

• Opus No 7

Wednesday, May 14 to Saturday, May 17, 7.30pm, UEA Sportspark, tickets £18.

“Dmitry Krymov Lab from Moscow is one of the most imaginative theatre companies in the world at the moment. The festival converts the sports hall at UEA’s Sportspark into a purpose-built venue for their show about the life of composer Shostakovich.”

• Snarky Puppy

Friday, May 9, 8pm, Open in Norwich, tickets £15.

“The first big gig of the festival comes from this great jazz-funk fusion group. Great beats and extraordinary musicians will make for an uplifting first night of the festival.”

• Dave Okumu & The Invisible with Shingai Shoniwa – Stars Align

Sunday, May 11, Open in Norwich, 8pm, tickets £15.

“A world premiere of a new composition from Paloma Faith/Jessie Ware producer featuring his band The Invisible and sensational Noisettes singer Shingai Shoniwa.”

• Die Roten Punkte

Friday, May 16 to Monday, May 19, 7.30pm, The Adnams Spiegeltent, tickets £16.

“Spoof art-rockers Otto and Astrid Rot return to the Spiegeltent with their brand new show after sell-out shows at the 2010 festival. Thrilled to have them back!”

• Safe House

Saturday, May 24, St James Development Site in Norwich, 10pm, free.

“A huge, free festival finale from brilliant young company Metro Boulot Dodo. Safe House is a digital, aerial spectacle examining our relationship with the place we call home.”

• Festival Chorus

Sunday, May 18, St Andrew’s Hall in Norwich, 7.30pm, tickets £7-£35.

“A bespoke programme marking the centenary of World War One brings the Festival Chorus together with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and soloists Louis Lortie, Susanna Hurrell and Richard Burkhard.”

• Gloria – A Pigtale

Tuesday, May 20 to Wednesday, May 21, 7.30pm, Norwich Playhouse, tickets £17.

“A contemporary opera-cabaret performed by human sausages! Directed by Freddie Wake-Walker – one of the UK’s up-and-coming opera talents.”

• Karl Ove Knausgaard

Saturday, May 24, Norwich Playhouse, 5pm, tickets £8.

“As part of our expanded City of Literature programme, we host one of the few UK dates from the Norwegian writer whose My Struggle series has been a literary phenomenon likened to Proust.”

• Pioneer by Curious Directive

Monday, May 12 to Wednesday, May 14, Norwich Playhouse, 7.30pm, tickets £10.

“Curious Directive is a really exciting theatre company based in Norfolk. All of their work engages with science and Pioneer is a premiere of a piece commissioned by the festival.”

Festival time will soon be upon Norwich and Norfolk once more and artistic director William Galinsky cannot wait to share this year’s line-up with audiences.

From building a Norman church out of cardboard bricks to listening to the array of classical and contemporary music on offer, as always there is huge variety in the programme.

Old favourites like the Adnams Spiegeltent and the Garden Party in Norwich’s Chapelfield Gardens are back, but there are also lots of surprises as our county becomes the festival stage and Norwich is turned inside out with all things cultural.

“I am really excited about this year’s festival. We have this great burst of creativity and art and culture for 17 days that will just spill out of the theatres and concert halls and into the streets,” said William.

“You will find the most unexpected things where you haven’t even thought to look before, you will meet people you haven’t seen for ages at an outdoor show, and you will see things you wouldn’t normally see. It will be great fun, and very different from the other 50 weeks of the year!”

He added: “There’s lots for families to enjoy and experience together, come to the Garden Party and bring a picnic, come to the Adnams Spiegeltent, come enjoy the great jazz programme and the great classical music.

“We have got a great festival in this city and county and I’m really excited about sharing that with our audience.

“We work really hard on the festival and it’s really all for the audience. We want people to have fun, to feel that living here is a really great thing, and that the festival is one of those things that makes this city and county a great place to live.”

He said this year the festival had a “change of pace” from previous years, with the traditional big outdoor spectacle closing rather than opening the arts extravaganza.

But he said there was still a “cracking opening night” on May 9 with lots to choose from including the American band Snarky Puppy - a sell-out success at the London Jazz Festival - and the Philharmonia Orchestra’s concert featuring violinist Tasmin Little.

On day two people of all ages will take part in The People’s Tower and create a huge cardboard replica of St Peter Mancroft Church outside The Forum.

“It’s just such a wonderful idea and it is one of those projects that really brings people together,” said William.

“It’s about our past and our heritage and about people coming together to work on a project together that celebrates living in Norwich.”

With Safe House - the festival’s big free outdoor show - taking place on the closing weekend in Norwich, William said it gave the 17-day festival a sense of building up to a show-stopping grand finale and along the way there was lots for all to enjoy.

He said he was especially looking forward to Opus No 7 by Russian director Dmitry Krymov, which looks at the life of composer Shostakovich and will see the UEA Sportspark transformed into a theatre.

He said: “It’s the biggest indoor theatre piece we have ever done. Dmitry Krymov, the director, is extraordinary. He trained as a set designer in the theatre and then became a painter when communism fell and then came back to theatre so it is very visual work, it’s very unusual - there’s one scene with five pianos on wheels that play dodgems.”

It’s Your Festival on May 25 will see local performers given the run of the festival stage, and the festival also has a number of other homegrown performances planned.

William said: “We have local companies like Curious Directive, a very interesting young theatre company, and the Voice Project, which is doing a great project at Holkham Hall.

“It’s also our second year of the [Live] Art Club at Norwich Arts Centre - there’s a lot of great work in the region and we wanted to celebrate that and bring emerging artists into the fold.”

The Adnams Spiegeltent returns for the second half of the festival with all its cabaret fun, the same week Norwich Theatre Royal plays host to circus, jazz and world music, and Michael Clark Company’s latest dance show.

On a personal note, Mr Galinsky said he was looking forward to sharing the festival with his two-year-old daughter Éadaoin.

“She was perhaps a bit too young last year, but this year I think she is at an age where we can take her to more things.

“I’m really keen to see what she makes of it all - we have got some great children’s events like the play Not Now, Bernard and also all the stuff that’s going on outdoors.

“I am always very interested to see the festival through other people’s eyes and it will be a new experience to share it so closely with a small child who is drinking it all in for the first time. The festival is all about shared experiences between the generations, especially the festival’s outdoor performances.”

• The Norfolk and Norwich Festival runs from Friday, May 9 to Sunday, May 25. Visit www.nnfestival.org.uk

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