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Top 10 events to see at this year's Greenwich and Docklands International Festival

The annual festival kicks off in London on 23 June

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London's leading free outdoor arts festival returns this summer with a line-up as strong as ever. From classic plays to performances on an open-top bus, this year's programme features some cracking shows all over south and east London. It runs from 23 June to 8 July. If you're one of the over 100,000 people expected to attend the festival, here's our pick of ten shows you need to see.

De Roovers' A View from the Bridge
© Stef Sessel

A View from The Bridge

Peninsula Quays, 22 to 25 June

Belgian company De Roovers' new English adaptation of Arthur Miller's story gets its UK premiere at this year's festival. The story about dockworkers and illegal immigrants in search of the American dream will take place right beside the Thames. The production hasbeen running at venues across Belgium since 2002, but it gets its UK premiere at GDIF this summer.

FierS à Cheval
© Marc Van Canneyt

FierS à Cheval

Cutty Sark, 23 June, 7pm

Compagnie de Quidams will open GDIF this year with FierS à Cheval, which translates to English as 'Proud Horse'. It will see nine luminous, 3.5 metre-high inflatable horses under the gaze of the Cutty Sark. The production tours iconic landmarks around the world and is bound to be one of the mane attractions at this year's festival.

(© IOU)

Rear View

From Eltham High Street, 29 June to 2 July

Take a whistle stop tour around the streets of Eltham on theatre company IOU's custom-made open top bus which has raked seating over two decks. It starts with a life-drawing class and, through performances by poets Cecilia Knapp and Jemima Foxtrot, tells the story of a 65-year old woman reflecting on her life. The audience hear the story through headphones, and Rear View has already run as part of this year's Norfolk & Norwich Festival.

VR Playground
© Jo Longhurst

VR Playground

Greenwich Park, 23 to 24 June

The future of the playground swing has arrived thanks to Thrill Laboratory's new VR experience. As you swing, thanks to a VR headset, you travel through blocky animated worlds, and afterwards, you can relive your journey by entering a unique code and watch the whole thing back again. It seems like a pretty trippy experience, but we think you'll never settle for an ordinary playground again.

Bingo Lingo

Cutty Sark Gardens, 24 and 25 June

We all love a good game of bingo, so do Wild N Beets' Nicola Miles-Wildin and Daryl Beeton. They want to take our love for the game one step further by making it into a Paralympic sport. The pair, who have worked with disabled-led theatre company Graeae in the past, will bring their oversized bingo cards and animatronic lottery machines to GDIF. One thing's for sure, this won't be your standard game at Gala.

© Adrian Harris

Corazón a Corazón

Cutty Sark Gardens, 24 and 25 June

This dance piece incorporates British Sign Language to tell the story of an intimate relationship between two male prisoners who seem completely different. It's inspired by Manuel Puig's novel Kiss of the Spider Woman, and this performance commemorates the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales. Commissioned by Without Walls, the piece is performed by professional dance company Deaf Men Dancing.

Les Roues de Couleurs
© Compagnie Off

The Colour of Light

Begins at the Assembly Statues, 8 July, 9pm

Enormous wheels of colour will line the streets of Woolwich in this UK premiere from French outdoor theatre company Compagnie Off. Described as a "chromatic ballet", the discs range from 2 to 11 metres in diameter and are powered by 30 performers as music is mixed live by an on-board DJ. It promises to provide a stunning finale to the festival.

© Johan Persson


Westferry Circus, 1 July, 2.20 and 3.45pm

One of Matthew Bourne's early works, Country is an adaptation from Town and Country which has been touring the UK with bourne's Early Adventures. Country was first created in 1991, and earned Bourne his first Olivier Award nom. This is a great chance to see a formative piece from the British legend's repertoire.

Five Soldiers - Rosie Kay Dance Company
© Colin Hattersley Photography

Five Soldiers

St George's Garrison Church, Woolwich, 7 and 8 July

Part of the All Roads Lead to Woolwich programme, Five Soldiers is a dance piece by the Rosie Kay Dance Company about five men and women serving on the front-line. It will take place opposite Woolwich Barracks at St. George's Garrison Church, which was bombed to ruin in the Second World War. A fitting space for this dramatic piece about how the human body remains integral to warfare.

How I Hacked My Way Into Space

Greenwich Park, 23 to 25 June

Jon Spooner has, like many of us, always dreamed of going to space. In this family show, Spooner tells us how he "hacked his way into space" from his garden shed in St Albans, with a little help from the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne and a rocket launch at Cape Canaveral in Florida. The piece is set in Spooner's touring Space Shed and is perfect for any budding astronauts or science-junkies.

For more information on Greenwich and Docklands Internatinal Festival, click here.