Tag Archives: Gulbenkian

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.

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.


What is it good for ? Oh What A Lovely War coming soon

Continuing the commemoration of the centenary of World War I, the Music Theatre and T:24 Drama Societies come together for a production of Oh, What A Lovely War! from 19th-21st November.

Click to view
Click to view
Kat Edmonds
Kat Edmonds

‘I’m particularly looking forward to seeing the new spin that UKC MTS and T24 Drama Society will bring to this classic production!’ enthuses Katharine Edmonds, Publicity Officer for the Music Theatre Society, almost beside herself with excitement about the project. ‘The collaboration between the two societies is very exciting in itself and I can’t wait for the song and dance numbers! People should come and see the show simply because it’s going to be a lot of fun, and if that’s not enough reason then it’s also extremely topical right now, it being the centenary of WW1. It’s a great opportunity to reconsider our history and get to experience a show that will make the audience feel just as involved in the action!’

The production comes to the Gulbenkian Theatre, tickets and further details can be found online here, and you can follow the production on Twitter @OWALW.

Join up quick: it’ll be all over by Christmas…

One Last Dance: General Harding’s Tomfoolery at the Gulbenkian

Although Summer Music Week was over, we couldn’t let the opportunity for one final event to pass us by, and for the Dance Orchestra to have one final farewell. On the last day of term, General Harding’s Tomfoolery gathered on the cabaret-stage in the Gulbenkian Cafe to bid a fleet-footed farewell not just to the term, but to the academic year – and to an industrious few weeks of performing! (Was it really only on 31 May that the band won Keynestock and embarked on its six-gigs-in-twenty-one-days spree ?!)

Our usual bass-player was away that day – a tip o’ the straw hat to Jenn Morgan who stepped up to play, and performed as though she’d been a part of the band for ages.

Thanks to the Gulbenkian for hosting us, and to everyone who has been a part of the group this year.

Live opera relays from the ROH at the Gulbenkian

For opera-lovers – the Gulbenkian Theatre is showing live relays from Covent Garden over the next few months.

Wednesday 20 FebEugene Onegin

Monday 29 AprilNabucco

Monday 27 MayLa Donna del Lago

Monday 24 JuneGloriana

Here’s the stellar Renee Fleming in the famous ‘Letter Scene’ from Eugene Onegin, to whet your appetite.

More details on the Gulbenkian website here, or see the individual links above.

All that jazz: catching up with Sector7

Ahead of their Lunchtime Concert in the Gulbenkian Theatre on Monday 3 December, I caught up with Sarah Ellen Hughes, singer with the group, and asked her about what we can look forward to.


DH: Tell us a little about the group.

SEH: Sector7 originated as a jazz group, but now plays a selection of gospel, folk, jazz and soul, that has been brought to the table by the diversity of the members. We have 4 singers in the group and a rhythm section, allowing us to explore some a cappella work, but also some groove-based music with the band too.

DH: And what excites you about the music you perform ?

SEH: Vocal harmony is always exciting, and having four strong voices performing things in sometimes incredibly difficult and intricate harmonies is great to be a part of. We also have a new member at the moment, who is a beatboxer, so we’ve been able to incorporate that into a few tunes which is brilliant!

DH: So, what can we look forward to in your gig in a few weeks’ time ?

We’re going to be playing a selection of Christmas music and some Sector7 originals. There are plenty of great Christmas standards out there that we’re going to put a twist on and arrange in our own way. But we don’t want to do a Christmas overload as it’s only the first week of December, so we’ll also be playing some songs from our EP:


Thanks to Sarah for her time; find out more about the concert on our online diary here.

Children in Need at Kent: the video

Courtesy of KentTV, here’s footage of the Children in Need events from last Thursday, with your loyal correspondent conducting the scratch Ringtone Orchestra in Three Movements in Ring-Tonality, followed by an awful lot of people doing the ‘Time Warp’ next door in the Gulbenkian Theatre.

Thanks to everyone who took part, and to KTV.

Canterbury Festival starts this Saturday

The wonderfully eclectic mix of music, drama, dance, art, comedy, lectures and more that is the Canterbury Festival swings into acton this Saturday, offering two weeks of artistic celebration at the heart of the city and beyond.

Highlights of this year’s festival include:

Festival logoLocal star of the international piano world, Freddy Kempf, will be performing Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto, which (in my humble opinion) is an even greater work than its more celebrated cousin, the second piano concerto; accompanied by the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, the concert at the Marlowe Theatre opens this year’s festival this Saturday.

Contemporary music-lovers can look forward to the world première of When The Flame Dies by Ed Hughes at St Augustine Hall on Wednesday 17 October, in association with Sounds New.

Soloists from the Philharmonia bring Stravinsky’s spirited The Soldier’s Tale to St Gregory’s Centre on Sunday 21st October.

The legendary Van Morrison will be at the Marlowe on two nights, Tuesday 23rd / Wednesday 24th.

Stand-up comedy from Jo Caulfield, Sean Hughes and Mark Thomas will fill the Gulbenkian Theatre with laughter on various dates, whilst Marcus Brigstocke visits Shirley Hall at the King’s School.

Family events include the opening Festival Parade through the city streets this Saturday including carnival bands and a Chinese Dragon, and several family shows at the Gulbenkian each weekend.

Find out more on the festival website here.