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Artichoke premieres The Magical Menagerie at Milton Keynes International Festival

  • Date: 3 June 2010
  • Area: National, South East
The Magical Menagerie, Artichoke, 2010

The Magical Menagerie, Artichoke, 2010. Credit: Image courtesy of Artichoke

Artichoke, producer of London’s The Sultan’s Elephant, brings some of the fairytale magic from the French carousel to Milton Keynes’ first international multi-arts festival this July.

Artichoke, an Arts Council England regularly funded organisation, has teamed up with artist and engineer François Delarozière and Sky Arts to present the world’s largest and only square carousel, The Magical Menagerie, for the first time in the UK.

Originally commissioned in 2008 by the French newtown of Sénart, The Magical Menagerie - or Le Manège Carré Sénart - has toured through Europe including Spain, Portugal and Belgium, charming visitors with its mechanical herds of strange beasts from exotic fish and brightly coloured insects to oversized buffalos.

IF: Milton Keynes International Festival presents a dynamic programme of theatre, dance, circus, music, visual arts and sound installations from international and UK artists and performers from 16 July to 25 July 2010. 

The festival is produced by music venue The Stables in partnership with Milton Keynes Theatre & Gallery Company, both Arts Council England regularly funded organisations. Arts Council funding of £462,000 supported the early stages of the festival’s development, while an additional award of £100,000 has made the inclusion of The Magical Menagerie in the festival’s programme a possibility. 

Sally Abbott, Arts Council England Regional Director explains the impetus behind the Arts Council’s support: ‘Milton Keynes is one of the UK’s fastest growing cities, offering a fantastic opportunity to place the arts at the heart of its development and create a vibrant arts offer to unite and inspire the burgeoning population.

‘By supporting a strong cultural infrastructure in the city, Arts Council England is in turn supporting the local economy to thrive. The quality and diversity of the IF programme has exceeded all of our expectations and I wholeheartedly congratulate the team. I can’t wait to see the city come alive with people enjoying the arts.’

The Magical Menagerie
is Artichoke’s sixth production. However, the London-based creative company is probably best remembered for its production of sculptor Antony Gormley's One & Other for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in 2009. An incredible 2400 members of the public had the chance to stand on the plinth. 

Artichoke has worked with François Delarozière twice before. In 2006, Delarozière created a 50 foot mechanical elephant for Artichoke's production of Royal de Luxe’s The Sultan's Elephant. In 2008, he designed the spider in La Princesse in Liverpool.

The Magical Menagerie
will be constructed in central Milton Keynes, in the car park of arts venue The Point, outside shopping centre thecentre:mk. The carousel runs from 16 July to 8 August. Sky Arts are offering discounted tickets, two tickets for the price of one, on Sunday 18 July and 1 August as part of their Sky Sunday programme.

IF: Milton Keynes International Festival kicks off with a pyrotechnics spectacular that incorporates music, light, projections and performance, Full Circle, and ends with a family picnic event in Campbell Park, World Picnic, with free entertainment and performances.

Highlights for this year’s festival include InStallation, a Swiss circus performing under the big top; a concert from world acclaimed percussionist Evelyn Glennie played to a prone audience in the City Church; music, comedy and cabaret curated by The Stables in the famous Victorian Spiegeltent; and Asleep at the Wheel, a soundscape art commission built in a disused Sainsburys superstore.

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