Tag Archives: bOing

Capturing the imagination of children and adults alike: interview with bOing Festival’s Ali Chambers

With the bOing! International Family Festival set to burst into life at the end of the month, I caught up with the newest member of the festival team, Ali Chambers, to find out what’s in store…

You’ve recently joined the Gulbenkian team; where have you come from, and what’s your background ?

I joined Gulbenkian at the end of June having worked for Canterbury Festival for five years doing logistics and education stuff! Events management is really my “thing” and I’ve done all sorts, from field festivals to international conferences but Festivals are my favourite. I love creating something from nothing; starting with an empty space and making something wonderful that disappears a few days later but creates lasting memories! Working with an artist to create the bOing map has been my favourite part of the job so far, you’ll see why when you see the map; a university campus reimagined!

What’s your role in bOing ?

Ali Chambers
Ali Chambers

bOing is approaching incredibly quickly and most of the planning has already been done so it’s just a case of pulling everything together and being a fresh pair of eyes. I’m creating an event management schedule so the team have a good overview of what’s going on and when, and a bit of an instruction manual to help them deal with particular events that could arise like lost parents (or children!)

As ever, the Festival couldn’t be done without the help of our bOing! volunteers and we’re still in need of a few helping hands, so perhaps anyone who is interested in volunteering could drop me a line.

Young people are at the heart of the Gulbenkian, and you’ve even got them involved in running events at bOing; what will that involve, and what’s the take-up / response been like ?

Gulbenkian has started a youth arts movement called ART31. We host a group of young people who are passionate about creating their own opportunities in the arts, so they’re running their own stage at bOing; programming it, performing, managing all the tech and also making the most of the opportunity to recruit new members of the movement so hopefully we’ll be very busy at the ART31 weekly meetings from now on! We’re realising that young people, teenagers in particular, are frustrated with not having anywhere to go or anything to do, so the take-up has been fantastic and you’ll definitely see some up-and-coming talent on the bOing ART31 stage.

I’ve heard rumours that you’re building a ‘small village’ for the festival; what on EARTH are we in for there ?!

It’s not just any old small village, Dan, it’s Wonderland! bOing! is all about capturing the imagination of children and adults alike, so anything could happen in Wonderland! Help to save the Lyma birds by finding his babies in the most imaginative game of hide-and-seek, join the improv orchestra, meet Long John Silver and have a go at parkour (you’ll definitely want to after watching The Urban Playground’s performance of STEAM!) Wonderland is full of free treats for all the family.

We’ve got hat-making and carnival mask workshops for anyone who feels the need to dress-up to join in the fun, and if it’s all a bit tiring you can chill-out in the storytelling tent  while the mini-ravers amongst us can party on at the Boogie Woogie Baby Disco!

If I wasn’t working at bOing I’d definitely be borrowing some children as an excuse to come along!

What’s bOing’s best-kept secret (if you can tell us!) ?

I’m most looking forward to Aracaladanza’s performance of Nubes. YouTube it if you’re not sure, I guarantee you’ll be buying tickets because it is simply beautiful! But there’s also going to be a teddy-bear launcher at bOing! called TedLeap for the bravest teddy-bears in Kent, and that’s something I’d definitely be bringing my teddy bear (Mr Bailey) to have a go at! I’ve also heard that The Forest is amazing – it’s for children aged 13+ with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities and it’s a multi-sensory trip into a dark and mysterious forest. Oh gosh there are too many – can I name drop Tiger Tale too? I’ll say no more, but look up page 10 of the brochure for a ballet about a tiger invasion! See you at bOing – I’ll be the one eating all the cupcakes from the cupcake decorating stall!

bOing_2015_logoFind out more about bOing! on Sat 29 and Sun 30 August here.

Dance with raindrops: Aurora Orchestra coming to bOing! festival

The ever-inventive Aurora Orchestra will be on our doorstep at the end of this month, when they bring what promise to be magical performances to the Gulbenkian as part of the bOing! International Family Festival.

Two concerts, aimed respectively at children up to the age of four and children aged five and over, will bring to life Bach’s Goldberg Variations in a mixture of interactive activities for the whole family, including the opportunities to ”dance with raindrops, jump with sheep and make a magic potion.”

aurora-3The early years concerts take place at various times on Saturday 29 and Sun 30 August (details here), whilst the Family Concert for ages 5 and above is on Saturday 29 August at 3.45pm (details here).

Come and immerse yourself and your family in what promises to be a fascinating and spell-binding exploration of one of Bach’s most enduringly popular works.

Full details about the bOing! festival online here.

Bouncing back for a second year: bOing International Family Festival: interview with Liz Moran

It’s a bright, summer morning in the Gulbenkian café, and already it’s a thriving hubbub of activity, with children clacking their way through in dance-shoes, beribboned with medals, parents hurrying after them, and an assistant carrying what appears to be a bucket of pink and mauve decapitated toy flamingos. It’s all part of the Canterbury Dance Festival, which is in full swing in the theatre.

Through the ebb and flow of dancers and harassed-looking parents shimmers the Director of the Gulbenkian, Liz Moran, who’s come to talk about bOing!, its family festival which is back for the second year running. I begin by asking her how the festival has developed since last year.

‘’It’s developed dramatically since last year,’’ she enthuses,  ‘’thanks to the additional funding from Arts Council England as a result of us becoming a National Portfolio Organisation. We have been able to bring to Kent some of the best international work created for young audiences from across Europe as well as a new commission in partnership with Conflux in Glasgow of a spectacular outdoor new outdoor show, Fragile.’’

Young people and families are at the heart both of the Gulbenkian itself and of bOing; how has she put a festival together to appeal to all ages ?

‘’The emphasis is on quality of work, and not just programming work for particular ages. We do include work that has considered the particular needs of babies or young people with PMLD but the majority of what is on offer will engage all ages. I believe the value of a festival such as this is that all ages can share incredible and inspiring work in a relaxed and fun environment.’’

I dare to suggest that one of the new works is something of a ‘Dances With JCBs;’ what exactly is Motionhouse ?

Image: Kent Online
Image: Kent Online

Her eyes light up immediately. ‘’Our commissioning of this new work is very exciting. I have worked with Motionhouse for many years and Kevin Finnan their Artistic Director was Choreographer and Movement Director for the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. We have commissioned this with the Merchant City Festival in Glasgow as part of their Conflux Festival. It opened last weekend and attracted thousands to see it. It is mega! 3 JCB’s which really do dance in the company of 21 stunning and very brave dancers. This will be the English premiere, and you won’t be able to see it anywhere else!’’

And it’s not just happening in Canterbury this year;  bOing! is spreading its wings and going to Medway as well ?

‘’Yes! We are developing bOing! as a Kent festival and will develop more work in other areas of Kent besides Canterbury. The show we are taking to the streets of Chatham is by the UK’s leading Parkour company, Urban Playground. They will not only perform their show but will also work with teenagers to demonstrate how to do Parkour safely as many teenagers have been injured attempting Parkour. What is very exciting is that this has led to Medway Council building their own ‘Urban’ festival around this performance.’’

What, I ask, have been the challenges with putting together this year’s programme ?

‘’Lots and lots of different types of challenges ! Finding the right space for the enormous number of events we are offering is one but we have been fortunate to get so much support from across the University to meet this challenge. Also getting the balance between all of the free events and the wonderful international work that is ticketed.’’

And that’s part of the magic of this festival – its accessibility, and programme of events that are free to attend that runs alongside the ticketed performances. Keeping the balance between free and paid events is always going to be something of a financial challenge for a festival, but bOing! continues to make a significant proportion cash-free, encouraging families and audiences to try something new. And the range of events is appealing, too; whether it’s interactive theatre, immersive concerts from the brilliantly-inventive Aurora Orchestra, or innovative dance, the festival manages to bring new and exciting work to audiences of all ages.

And finally, I ask her, what’s bOing’s best-kept secret this year, if she can tell us ?

‘’Ah, well,’’ comes the reply, ‘’there are so many to discover…you have to come to find out – but the most wonderful one involves the show on the front cover of the bOing! brochure…’’

bOing_2015_logoAnd with that, our time is up and Liz shimmies off through the café through the thronging dance festival attendees, back off to mastermind more creative ideas for the future of the Gulbenkian. The bOing! International Family Festival 2015 takes place on Sat 29 and Sun 30 August; find out what’s in store here or download the brochure for yourself here.


bOing festival is coming: an interview with Liz Moran

Excitement courses through the corridors of the Gulbenkian Theatre at the moment, in anticipation of the bOing! festival happening at the end of the month. I tripped down the corridor to talk with the dizzying whirlwind of creativity that is the Director of the Gulbenkian, Liz Moran, to find out what’s in store.

Tell me about the festival.

bOing! is a new international festival for children to share with their families. This year, it’s over a weekend and over the next few years it will grow to be an even bigger event.

Family events lie close to the heart of Gulbenkian programming; why is that ?

bOing_imageI believe there is an imbalance in the quality and investment in work for younger audiences in the UK and I believe that is unfair. Children and young people should be considered as audiences now, not as future audiences with access to inspiring, imaginative work.

There don’t seem to be many other events, particularly locally, quite like it; what’s unique about bOing ?

I think what’s unique about bOing! is that although we are targeting younger audiences, the programme is not all ‘children’s’ work. I think it important children and their parents share seeing amazing artists together, so we have included a range of work and workshops that can be shared and enjoyed by all ages We are also taking bOing! off campus with a fantastic dance piece to be performed in the playground on the sea front in Herne Bay; that will become an important part of bOing! In the future, taking it all over Kent in unexpected places !

Image: Kent Online
Familes valued: Liz Moran

Children and young people should be considered as audiences now, not as future audiences, with access to inspiring, imaginative work

What were the challenges of programming the festival ?

A new festival is a challenge in persuading world-class companies to come and present their work. Having companies such as TPO from Italy who are coming with Bleu! is a major coup; they’re in demand all over the world, and that is exactly the kind of inspirational, awe-inspiring work we want to share with our audiences. Money and resources are always an issue; big ambitions often need major investment, but we have been fortunate this year to have secure additional financial support from Arts Council England and Kent County Council.

Sharp lookout…

Family Concert: A Wonderland is an interesting project; tell me more…

A Wonderland is a family concert put together by cellist, singer and producer Matthew Sharp; it forms the centrepiece of the opening day. Everyone who comes to the concert will be invited to stay at the end and learn a new piece of music that they themselves will perform later in the day. The choir is for all ages, not just children, and the idea is to give families the opportunity to sing and perform together in a magical musical wonderland that Matthew is creating.

Is there anything that you are looking forward to especially ?

I can honestly say there is no one thing; all of the companies and artists involved are inspirational

And you’ve made the festival appealing and family-friendly in terms of cost, too.

Yes. Many of the events are free (details here) but I would urge people to book now  for the paid events which have been priced very low, between £4 and £5 for the festival; it’s a unique opportunity to see international work such as Bleu! and award-winning Paperbelle, but please book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment on the day!

Thanks to Liz for her time. bOing! takes place Saturday 30th – Sunday 31st August; more information about the festival here, and see full listings here.