Outdoor Theatre Festival Returns at the NationalDate: 1 June 2001
The National Theatre's fourth free festival of outdoor theatre, Watch This Space, will run from 21 June to 25 August 2001. Over 100 performances from more than 50 different acts will offer free events for six days per week, featuring a truly global line-up.
A combination of street theatre, music, acrobatics, comedy and magic will be on offer, with activities taking place in Theatre Square. The schedule will be launched on 21 June, the longest day of the year, with performances from 1.15pm onwards. Most events are planned for lunchtime and early evening slots, although the Waterloo Sunsets shows will commence at 10.15pm on Saturday nights in June and July.
Among the action detailed to take place is the Avanti Display's Hydromania, which will transform the National into a large nocturnal fountain to close the opening day. The Velayev Family from Azerbaijan will present their Caucasian Circus, with an acrobatic high wire act in the tradition of their homeland's travelling players. Chipolata 5 (pictured) will also be merging circus routines with a musical soundtrack. Theatre companies including Bath Theatre Royal's Young People's Theatre, London's Bubble Theatre, Chichester Festival Youth Theatre and IOU will all be presenting new works.
Major names from the music world include the award-winning singer Natacha Atlas, whose global fusion approach has earned her an international following. Merengada, whose salsa version of No Woman No Cry was a European hit in 1998, will also perform in the Waterloo Sunsets calendar. Among several renowned klezmer artists appearing will be Britain's popular The Burning Bush, led by Lucie Skeaping.
Jonathan Holloway, the NT's Events and Activities Manager, told Whatsonstage.com: "The impetus for the original festival coincided with Trevor Nunn's arrival and also with the completion of Theatre Square. This gave us, for the first time, an appropriate space to present performance art works in. A lot of the programme is aimed at families, but the South Bank is so busy at present that around 40,000 folk are passing along it every day what with the Tate Modern, London Eye and other attractions. We can expect up to 100,000 people to attend Watch This Space throughout its duration, and the crowds who are already coming to our matinee and evening theatre performances are given an extra element to their visit. Like all arts organisations we are keen to have a strong outreach policy, and the season gives many people a chance to engage with the National Theatre and perhaps see the building in a different light."
- by Gareth Thompson