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Fuse Medway Festival brings free outdoor arts to Medway

  • Date: 13 June 2012
  • Area: South East
Fuse Parade, Fuse Medway Festival, 2011

Fuse Parade, Fuse Medway Festival, 2011 . Credit: Photograph: Rik Oste

For three days this June, a free outdoor arts festival takes over the streets of Medway, offering some of the most innovative and inspiring theatre, circus, music, dance and street performance.

The Fuse Medway Festival is Medway’s brings together international, national and local artists, and new commissions and community performances, all under one fantastic weekend in Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham from 15 to 17 June 2012 – and all free.

The festival is supported with a £100,000 Arts Council England Grant for the Arts award and is funded by Medway Council. Grants for the arts invests National Lottery money to support activities that engage people in the arts and helps artists and arts organisations with their work.

This year’s Fuse Medway Festival brings high quality local artists to the festival programme with their Sparks Commission. In the run up, they’ve been running workshops to get local people involved in performances as part of the festival called Lighting the Fuse, including a 100-person festival choir performing in five towns aboard a paddle steamer (Ri-zound) and a live and interactive ‘visual memory bank’ of the River Medway expressed through dance on the Rochester Esplanade (Changes in the Current).

This year kicks off with a colourful parade down Gillingham High Street on Friday 15 June, then continues with street entertainment such as travelling misfits from The Central School of Speech & Drama (Whatever Floats Your Boat) and physical storytelling from Tangled Feet (All That Is Solid Melts Into Air).

Saturday 16 June promises to deliver an action-packed Street Arts Day on Chatham High Street and Riverside all afternoon, with over 20 entertaining, zany and often family friendly shows including a 125-million-year old dinosaur (Los Kaos' Meet the Dinosaur), road workers acrobatics (Bureau of Silly Idea’s The Small Job), fisherwoman’s telling sea stories through song and music (The Galloping Cuckoos’ Driftwood) and other delightful treats.

The day will also see the UK premiere of French company’s Campagnie Houdart-Heuclin’s Padox in Medway, a roving theatre piece featuring an incredible set of characters and involving local people, who’ve gained skills in theatre, singing, use of puppetry and other animation techniques.

When the sun goes down, No Fit State Circus’ stunning new open-air show Barricade will come to life with acrobats, aerialists and tightrope walkers taking over Great Lines Heritage Park.

Finally on Sunday 17 June, the festival ends with the Fuse Big Picnic in Rochester Castle Gardens throughout the afternoon, with performances from Dizzy O’Dare presents…(The Last Apothecary), The Honk Project (Trundlehonk!), Kazzum (Paper People) and more. The afternoon finishes with the UK premiere of French circus theatre company Les Krilati’s Fando Comme Lis, a modern burlesque mime show, which takes place in the castle moat. 

Lélia Gréci, Artistic Director, Fuse Medway says: ‘This is going to be a very special Fuse this year, with acts from all over the world.  It’s a real combination of treats including two fabulous evening shows – No Fit State Circus on Saturday and Les Krilati Circus on the Sunday and not forgetting some great acts that are unique to Fuse – not to be seen anywhere else.’

Jon Linstrum, Combined Arts Relationship Manager, South East, Arts Council England says: ‘This year’s programme for Fuse Medway Festival embraces the local, regional and international in a cohesive way, introducing some exciting new strands at all levels and featuring some high quality work from a wide range of artists.  We’re particularly excited to see some of the international expertise that the new Director is bringing to the Festival, as well as seeing some high quality local artists featured so strongly.

The Festival is growing in significance, regionally and nationally, and Arts Council England is delighted to be partners with Medway Council in supporting it. We endorse the Council’s championing the event as a key element in their wide-ranging support for culture and the creative industries.’

Fuse Medway Festival takes place in Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham from 15 to 17 June 2012. For more information and a full programme go to www.fusefestival.org.uk or join them on Facebook or Twitter.