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Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and Fuse Medway Festival

Soldier in field of poppiesFuse Festival family play tells untold stories of Medway’s WW1 experiences at the Fuse Medway Festival 13th to 15th June.

Fuse Medway Festival reveals details of a play specially created for the festival commemorating Medway’s experiences of World War One.   London’s Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (RCSSD) are once again developing something unique to Fuse, celebrating Medway’s identity.  The play will add to a full festival programme of theatre, circus, dance, music and visual art.   RCSSD’s Home Fires is a family show based on local stories of the people left behind in Medway.

It’s 1914 and war in Europe has broken out.  Armies are recruited and thousands of men go off to fight, leaving their families behind.  Sacrifices are made and huge losses are suffered, but a spirit of solidarity holds firm as the women of Medway keep the home fires burning, nursing the sick and injured, growing food to feed the nation, picking up men’s tools and keeping the factories churning.

Jamie Harper from Hobo Theatre is the play’s director and has been working with the first year B.A. Hons Drama, Applied Theatre and Education students to create this very special piece of theatre.

Home FiresJamie says: “This play is all about the important role played by the women left behind and how their lives changed at a time when their men were suffering the intolerable conditions of war.   And it’s based on the stories of local people and local history.”

This family-friendly play reflects Medway’s strong maritime history and the role of the Navy, moving away from the usual portrayal of life in the trenches.  But it’s the human stories – the emotions and feelings – that it really taps into.  And in a way that really involves the audience.  Jamie comments: “This has been an incredible exercise for all of us, and I have found it interesting as it has made me think of my grandfathers, who both served in the First World War.

RCSSD has been working with Fuse for several years, each year providing performances that can’t be seen anywhere else, and reflecting Medway’s strong sense of place.  The students are training to work with communities using performance and in return for a unique performance as part of the festival, Fuse offers the students a valuable opportunity.  Graduates from the course often stay in touch or work with the festival – one such student is Robyn Goldsmith, who is Education and Outreach Officer for Medway Council’s Arts Team – the department responsible for delivering Fuse.

Home Fires will be showing out and about in the heart of local communities at parks, playgrounds and heritage sites during the Lighting the Fuse pre-festival programme and then will be part of the main festival programme from 13 June. 

Fuse Medway Festival’s programme will fill the streets and public spaces of Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham between 13 and 15 June with the very best in international and UK outdoor arts – all for free.   FUSE is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England’s Grants for the arts programme.  It is also supported by Medway Council. For more information about Fuse Medway Festival visit the website at www.fusefestival.org.uk, or join them on Facebook or Twitter.

Here is a sample as to what is on!

Dance
Friday, 13 June Gillingham High Street and The Great Lines Fuse Parade, 4.30 – 7.30pm. Medway Heroes Carnival – Walking in the Footsteps of Giants – 4.30pm – 5.30pm

Celebrating historic figures and local heroes of Medway. Giant figures, puppets and banners, colourful costumes, dancers and the carnival band parade down Gillingham High Street and end at the Great Lines. Festival kicks off there with theatre performances and street entertainment for all.

Saturday, 14 June Street Arts Day, Chatham High Street and Sun Pier 12 – 4.45pm
2.30pm and 3.20pm at The Anchor Southpaw Dance Company’s re-imagining of Goethe’s Faust is told through an intense physical and narrative dance. Witness a unique fusion of world-class breaking combined with Lindy Hop, Charleston, and swinging big band music of the roaring 20s.CLUNK – An outdoor, dance-theatre mini gig for under 5s inspired by the surreal writing of Russian Daniil Kharms, created by Peut-être Theatre and Dante or Die. Three musicians interpret Kharms’s crazy stories through Balkan music, song, visual imagery and movement. C-12’s Market Stall – A humorous and entertaining new outdoor show incorporating circus skills, parkour and dance, promising a feelgood experience for people of all ages. .Aims to get kids to eat their fruit and parents to run off and join the circus!

Fuse Big Picnic, Sunday, 15 June, 11.30am – 6.45pm, Rochester High Street ME71AQ and Rochester Castle Gardens ME1 1SW
CLUNK An outdoor, dance-theatre mini gig for under 5s inspired by the surreal writing of Russian Daniil Kharms, created by Peut-être Theatre and Dante or Die. Three musicians interpret Kharms’s crazy stories through Balkan music, song, visual imagery and movement. Acrojou: Frantic – a moving dance circus duet choreographed on a rolling set, the breathtaking physicality draws on the circus traditions of wheel and aerial acrobatics. Southpaw Dance Company’s re-imagining of Goethe’s Faust is told through an intense physical and narrative dance. Witness a unique fusion of world-class breaking combined with Lindy Hop, Charleston, and swinging big band music of the roaring 20s

Street Entertainment
Friday, 13 June Gillingham High Street and The Great Lines Fuse Parade, 4.30 – 7.30pm
Medway Heroes Carnival – Walking in the Footsteps of Giants – 4.30pm – 5.30pm Celebrating historic figures and local heroes of Medway. Giant figures, puppets and banners, colourful costumes, dancers and the carnival band parade down Gillingham High Street and end at the Great Lines. Festival kicks off  there with theatre performances and street entertainment for all. Save the Lyma Birds from Knuckle and Joint Theatre Company is a fun, family-friendly street theatre spectacle using intricate and beautiful puppets.  Spectators will be recruited as ‘Special Species Detectives’ for the day and their mission is to find and save the Lyma birds from extinction!  Followed by a delightful final performance.

Saturday, 14 June Street Arts Day, Chatham High Street and Sun Pier 12pm – 4.45pm
DELINUS-03 – The DELINUS-03 departs when it is full. And nobody knows when or how long the ride will take, what route it’ll take or  what the tiniest taxi van ever is going to pick up along the way Cocoloco  presents raucous, hilarious cabaret performance and street theatre with a twist. Dennis Teeth’s Musical Saw – Heart-melting melodies, comedy numbers and classical music are all played expertly by this duck-suited maestro. Dennis Teeth’s Gramophone DJ – Mr Teeth’s very own record collection. Presenting his pair of beautiful HMV wind-up gramophones, the Gramophone Guy excels at spinning original classic jazz and swing records at 78 rpm.

Fuse Big Picnic, Sunday, 15 June, 11.30am – 6.45pm, Rochester High Street ME71AQ and  Rochester Castle Gardens ME1 1SW
DELINUS-03 – The DELINUS-03 departs when it is full. And nobody knows when or how long the ride will take, what route it’ll take or  what the tiniest taxi van ever is going to pick up along the way. Theatre Rush with Story Exchange – There just aren’t enough stories, and we all know that stories make the world go round. Never fear, the Story Exchange is here..Join the Story Exchange staff and Belinda, their bonkers writing desk on wheels. Grand Theatre of Lemmingsthe Smallest Theatre in the World –  This fully functioning theatre mounted on a motorbike sidecar has a seating capacity of two. Enjoy two shows for the price of one, as the audience outside enjoys the cast trying to show a version of King Kong. Save the Lyma Birds from Knuckle and Joint Theatre Company is a fun, family-friendly street theatre spectacle using intricate and beautiful puppets.  Spectators will be recruited as ‘Special Species Detectives’ for the day and their mission is to find and save the Lyma birds from extinction!  Followed by a delightful final performance. Boogaloo Stu: The Crimplene Millionaire Play the Crimplene Millionaire board game; with a roll of the dice, crimplene-clad light entertainers,roll back the years to a world of 1970’s glitz, pizzazz and razzamatazz. Les Enfants Terribles’ Imaginary Menagerie –  An enormous exotic caravan has suspiciously arrived in town complete with strange characters that entertain, amuse and beguile. Packed with Vaudeville acts, live musicians and puppeteers.

Visual Arts and crafts
Friday, 13 June Gillingham High Street and The Great Lines Fuse Parade, 4.30 – 7.30pm
Medway Heroes Carnival – Walking in the Footsteps of Giants – 4.30pm – 5.30pm

Celebrating historic figures and local heroes of Medway. Giant figures, puppets and banners, colourful costumes, dancers and the carnival band parade down Gillingham High Street and end at the Great Lines. Festival kicks off  there with theatre performances and street entertainment for all.  One Day Works Nicole Mollett brings together performers, film-makers, print makers and artists who will celebrate Medway using the Kent Cultural Baton – as a base. The CreataboX vending machine gives out small creations made by local creatives. Also crafting stall, where people of all ages can make mini pieces of art. Comic Cuts Squarecube Artisans will be creating eight-foot high cut out characters from comic books and illustrations –  from Superman to Alice in Wonderland. Flair @ LV21 I am not dead…Participatory collage poster installation 7.30-midnight. Artists Chris Rutter & Evelyn Bennett invite visitors and artists aboard to develop a unique visual space

Saturday, 14 June Street Arts Day, Chatham High Street and Sun Pier – 12-4.45pm
The CreataboX vending machine gives out small creations made by local creatives. Also crafting stall, where people of all ages can make mini pieces of art. Rochester Art Gallery, Rochester 11am – 5pm A Thousand Words Exhibition

Fuse Big Picnic, Sunday, 15 June, 11.30am – 6.45pm, Rochester High Street ME71AQ and Rochester Castle Gardens ME1 1SW
One Day Works Nicole Mollett brings together performers, film-makers, print makers and artists who will celebrate Medway using the Kent Cultural Baton – as a base. The CreataboX vending machine gives out small creations made by local creatives. Also crafting stall, where people of all ages can make mini pieces of art. Rochester Art Gallery, Rochester 11am – 5pm A Thousand Words Exhibition The Illustrations and Comic Art of Bryan Talbot, Mark Barnes, Joe Decie and Ian Williams, Craft Case The visual feast is continued with Lisa Swerling’s Glass Cathedrals a series of artbox sculptures containing brilliant tiny worlds inhabited by miniature people.  Plus workshops and talks. Events and workshops are all free but some need places to be booked in advance by contacting arts@medway.gov.uk or on 01634 338319. Please note we can only accept phone or emailed bookings up until midday the Friday before a workshop.

Saturday, 14 June – Medway Designer and Maker Fair, alongside Sun Pier House, Chatham – 11am-5pm
A unique international designer and maker fair is being launched in Chatham and its first event will be part of Fuse, giving visitors an opportunity to experience art and meet the designers from across England and France. For more info contact heather@sunpierhouse.co.uk

Sunday 15 June – Free Fuse Festival of Comics The Princes Hall, High Street Rochester. 11am – 4pm
To celebrate the opening of the exhibition and Rochester’s big FUSE festival Sunday, a whole day of comic art activity is taking place. Come along and find out about comic art and illustration, enjoy drawing activities and meet some of the exhibiting artists. Listen to talks and take part in activities suitable for a range of ages and abilities. The event includes a special Drawing Dads activity especially for Father Day too! For more information 01634 338319 or email arts@medway.gov.uk

For more information about Medway visit http://www.visitmedway.org or for Kent visit www.visitkent.co.uk

Tuesday 13th May 2014

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  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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