Hey guys! I’m so excited to share this post with you all! For the third year, I’m going to be blogging about the Freedom Festival, an annual festival in Hull. To read my posts from the 2018 and 2017 Freedom Festivals, click here and here. Freedom Festival has been happening for 12 years now and it brings a range of unique artists to the city every year for thousands of festival goers to enjoy. It commemorates the work of William Wilberforce in abolishing the slave trade and so many of the performances and acts have some kind of link to that. This year, they extended the festival from 2 to 5 days with some events running on the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday but most of the action happening on the weekend as always. I can’t comment on the extra three days as I didn’t see any events there but the weekend was amazing as always. I absolutely love the Freedom Festival and I think we are so lucky to have an arts and culture festival right on our doorstep. I was lucky enough to see 8 different performances over the course of the weekend and I will be reviewing them all in this post.
THE BAND AT THE END OF THE WORLD BY RAMSHACKLICIOUS THEATRE COMPANY
Existing within their very own miniature apocalyptic crisis, this band genuinely believed that the end of the world was upon us. They arrived with quite a flourish in a cloud of heavy brass music. Dressed in punk marching band outfits and riding on a mini bus vehicle, they circled around King Edward Square, playing powerful brass music. Their performance featured a lot of lights and fire since it was at night and it was really effective. At the end of the performance, they even had sparklers! It was one of the most unique things I’ve ever seen in my life but I really enjoyed it and it was nice to watch something that’s outside of my usual taste.
BIVOUAC BY GENERIK VAPEUR
A large troupe of blue men and women burst out onto the streets of Hull on Friday night and drew in quite a crowd. I have to admit, due to some really rude people who thought it was acceptable to push in front of us, we couldn’t really see much of the parade but from the view I did get, it looked incredible! They used smoke, flame and oil drums within their parade and marched along to Rock’n’Shock music. It was a very unique concept and it was certainly very attention grabbing.
‘ON EDGE’ BY JUSTICE IN MOTION
‘On Edge’ explored the ongoing issue of modern slavery through energetic choreography on a parkour construction site. It follows the story of one man who gives up everything to go to a foreign country for a job in the construction industry because he believes it will help him to make a better life for him and his family. He joins a group of other workers and is stripped of all his belongings including his passport. It’s clear that the living conditions are far from acceptable with a lack of food and not enough beds for all of the workers. The head of the construction site is quite abusive and threatening towards his workers. He pushes them to work hard for little in return and punishes them if he feels they deserve it. The main character dreams of his family and he feels isolated and trapped in the deal he made with his boss. Someone comes to survey the building site and see if it is up to standard and he gives the main character a card with a help number on. This leads him to steal his boss’ phone which causes a chase scene and ends with the main character beaten on the floor. The storyline and amazing stunts that the performers completed made it so incredible. They swung around on the scaffolding and made it look so easy. I think it’s so good that they are raising awareness about modern slavery through this act because it’s a current issue in our society and it’s important for the public’s knowledge of it to be expanded so more people can be rescued from it.
THE GREAT ESCAPE BY ADHOK
This act featured 7 actors aged between 60 to 75 who delved into what it means to grow old. They appeared down Humber Street carrying trays with food on and they wandered around the old town area of Hull as the audience followed them. They each introduced themselves and gave some fun facts about themselves and whilst the performance kept a light, jokey tone throughout, there was also a serious layer underneath it. At one point, they each voiced some of their inner most fears about growing old like being put into a care home or not being able to do everything they used to be able to. Each one of them was so full of life and personality despite being old and it really challenged some of the preconceived ideas that people have about growing old. The performance ended with them smashing their trays, a symbol of them disregarding the societal expectations of old people and driving off into the distance in a car which they were hanging out of.
FOREIGN TONGUES BY LIQUID LOFT
This was one of the most bizarre yet ingenious things that I think I’ve ever seen in my life! A troupe of dancers, each carrying their own speaker, danced separately and together at different points in the show. The city soundscape was interweaved with different phrases from all kinds of languages and they were played through the speakers that the dancers were holding so they could dance to them. As you can imagine, it was weird hearing different languages and noises being played on the different speakers at the same time but it was really cool to watch the choreography throughout the performance.
CATCH ME BY UPSWING
An older woman and a younger man balanced, climbed and jumped across chairs that were dispersed across the stage. By showing how they interacted with each other, the performance questioned how we see each other and who we value. At first, they were almost wary of each other as they worked each other out but as time went on, they grew closer and began to trust each other. Suddenly, after becoming really close, they refrained from going near each other since they were both different in age and race. However, once they’d removed their coats, it was like they were freeing themselves of societal expectations and they just had fun together instead of overthinking their relationship. I really enjoyed the performance and how they interpreted emotions and a storyline through dance and I thought it had a powerful message behind it that we shouldn’t ignore others just because they are different to us.
WILD BY MOTIONHOUSE
After bringing the amazing performance ‘Block’ to the Freedom Festival last year, Motionhouse were back for another year, this time with ‘Wild’. With dance and acrobatics, it questioned whether the wild is still shaping our behaviour with our urban lives and growing disconnect from nature. Using a structure with lots of different poles, the 6 performers completed daring stunts and amazing tricks as they increasingly got higher and higher up the poles. There was a certain amount of acting involved too as they acted like animals with animal instinct to listen carefully for noise and stay together as a pack. They worked really well together as a team and wowed the audience as they finished the performances off by balancing on laptop covers right at the top of several of the poles.
GREGARIOUS BY CIE SOON
Two performers presented the conflict of sport as they switched from collaboration to conflict through the show. They found a way to create a competition out of even the simplest of things and even during their warm up for the main event, they raced each other to see who could run faster, who could work harder and who was more out of breath. But when they did work together, it was extraordinary and they put on a really good show as a team. They used a springboard mainly to complete their tricks on and they did all kinds of impressive flips. Later on, they combined it with a large pole which they jumped onto and slid down. At the end, they hugged and you thought they had disregarded their past competitiveness for friendship instead. However, they ended up racing each other to see who could leave the stage fastest. I thought it was hilarious and so clever in how it presented sport rivalry and the tricks in it were amazing as well.
Overall, the Freedom Festival this year was amazing! My favourite performance would have to be Justice in Motion’s ‘On Edge’ but I really enjoyed all of the performances and I appreciated the variety they provided. I’m looking forward to Freedom Festival 2020 already and if you’d like to be there too, it will on the first weekend of September and I would 100% recommend it.
Thank you for reading this post! Is there a Festival near you? Let me know in the comments! There’ll be another post out soon but until then bye for now!
Amelia Grace a.k.a Amelia in Hull