High wire stunt for Yarmouth

Stephen Pullinger His death-defying act has graced some of the world's most famous venues from the River Thames in London to the Stade de France in Paris.Now Frenchman Didier Pasquette, reputed to be the world's leading tightrope walker, is to make an appearance in Norfolk - to walk across Yarmouth Market Place.

Stephen Pullinger

His death-defying act has graced some of the world's most famous venues from the River Thames in London to the Stade de France in Paris.

Now Frenchman Didier Pasquette, reputed to be the world's leading tightrope walker, is to make an appearance in Norfolk - to walk across Yarmouth Market Place.

Mr Pasquette, who was taught by countryman Philippe Petit - renowned for a high wire walk between the former Twin Towers of New York's World Trade Centre - will be a star attraction at the town's first Out There cultural festival, running from October 25 to November 2.

Joe Mackintosh, chief executive of SeaChange arts group, which is staging the festival, expected to draw up to 100,000 visitors at a cost of £180,000, said: “Didier has come over to consider possible sites and we first looked at the river as well as the Market Place, but we decided to leave that for another time.

“We are keen to put on something to mark the opening of the outer harbour next year and that might be a possibility.”

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Thousands of spectators are expected to gather in the Market Place on the evening of Saturday, November 1 to watch Mr Pasquette cross from Palmers department store to the Market Gates side at a height of up to 15m.

The Market Place will be the hub of the festival and he will walk with no safety net over a double-decker bus housing some of its attractions, the main cabaret tent and a Finnish sauna constructed specially for festival-goers.

Mr Mackintosh said: “Didier likes to perform where you would not expect it, not just famous venues, and he is really keen to come to Yarmouth because he sees it is changing and developing.

“The walk will end with a large-scale fireworks display that will be the culmination of a full day of cutting-edge street acts from the UK and abroad.”

Seachange has just organised a residency of 50 artists from Finland, Portugal and England in Avis, Portugal, to work on new material for the festival.

About 20 of the artists will be appearing in the festival to show the fruit of their labours, spanning theatre, comedy, music and film.

During the residency Finnish visual artist Kari-Petteri Kakko constructed a working wood-fired sauna as a rehearsal for Yarmouth.

Mr Mackintosh said local young people would help construct the Market Place sauna using recycled materials - it would not only be operational during the festival but the inside would also be a mini-venue for projections and possible audio shows.

Other festival highlights include a grand show in the Hippodrome with music and film, a carnival event developed by a Brazilian group with the local community and the UK premiere of a comic show by renowned French street act Las Alamas Givres on the theme of: 'What happens when the petrol runs out?'

The festival's grand finale on the Sunday will be an international music day with high-calibre musicians from as far afield as Zimbabwe, Cuba, Brazil and Iceland.

Mr Mackintosh said: “A major plus with the credit crunch is that most of the entertainment will be free.”