Friday, 11 July 2008


Hazard08 – Saturday 12 July 2008 – Manchester City Centre produced by hÅb and greenroom in collaboration with the artists.

On 12 July outbreaks of hazardous behaviour will once again be unleashed on Manchester City Centre. Following the 2007 onslaught of hazard zones, guerrilla live art returns to the streets.

Not everything may be what it appears to be - a flash of yellow and black may just give the game away… A public space becomes impassable… a spoof hazmat alert…flashing red runways… scene-of-crime bodies litter the streets… an intrepid group of canoeists circumnavigate the city by canal…

Bogus workmen, health + safety inspectors and tourists… real benefits advice from the Pink Panther…anime characters playing interactive games… burlesque shop mannequins…

A giant trout bathing in a fountain…outbursts of spontaneous song…a stray round of applause…a gothic twist on folkdance… a family day-trip in search of Engels…and an encampment on our least visited station…

All this and more may just catch your eye thanks to: Accidental Collective, Adela Jones/Will Pollard, Ann Rapstoff , Artificial Light,Charles Quick, Chirp, Chris Fitzsimmons, Doldrum Theatre, Shahram Entekhabi, James Long, Kate Wiggs, Martin Hamblen, Michael Pinchbeck, PLaY, The Bucket Company, The Institute for the Art + Practice of Dissent at Home in Liverpool, The Muffia, Varsity of Maneuvers, whatsthebigmistry

Supported by: Manchester City Council, the National Lottery through Arts Council England, Urbis, Northern Rail
Core support: Arts Council England and AGMA.
Thanks to: Royal Exchange Theatre, Mandy Martinez and Zion Arts.

12 July 12-6pm free
Manchester City Centre:
Cathedral Gardens, Exchange Square, St Ann's Square, Market Street, Piccadilly Gardens and points between and around!
To find out more: 0161 615 0500
Information point on 12 July: outside Urbis

Camden People's Theatre

Michael Pinchbeck’s The Long and Winding Road puts audience members in the passenger seat of a Ford Fiesta filled with 365 mementoes

Camden Feature | Review| Sprint Festival 2008 | Camden People's Theatre

The 11th year of an experimental show is giving its organisers sleepless nights, writes Simon Wroe

MATT Ball doesn’t get much sleep.

A few hours a night, if he’s lucky. Over the past few months the 32-year-old art director of the Camden People’s Theatre (CPT) has lost even more shut-eye than usual wrestling with Sprint, the annual experimental drama festival.

Now in its 11th year at the Hampstead Road venue, Sprint has carved a niche on the performance art scene with its maverick programming: 24-hour continuous performances and a converted theatre of beds where actors and audience lie together are typical.

Each year the creature grows a little more, this time venturing outside the doors of the Euston theatre to incorporate a promenade detective story in a disused hotel nearby and a parked car in Triton Square which the audience enters one at a time. It’s the second year in the hotseat for Ball, CPT’s only full-time employee. Fortunately, he’s an insomniac.

“It’s either a labour of love or an act of lunacy,” he says. “I don’t think there are many other venues in London which would let people take the risks we let them take. Most of our work is about encouraging others to be brave and not compromise.”

Michael Pinchbeck’s The Long and Winding Road puts audience members in the passenger seat of a Ford Fiesta filled with 365 mementoes belonging to the actor’s brother, who died in an accident in Liverpool ten years ago. Pinchbeck will end the run by driving the car into the River Mersey.

In Black Tonic, guests wander the corridors of a hotel populated by a manic housekeeper, a lusty couple, a guilt-ridden executive and a single spot of blood. Over the course of June, Japanese Bunraku puppetry, mechanical bull riding and mask-making will all feature.

When Ball is not in the theatre he is searching far and wide for the next thing to “blow his mind away”. This year he has been to Glasgow, Birmingham, Toronto and Bristol on the hunt. Nightfall, a one-off performance by “pseudo-goths” at sunset on the midsummer solstice, which extends into the darkness of the night, is a result of his tireless explorations and demonstrates the transient “in this moment only” qual ity unique to Sprint.

Others, such as the “misplaced landscape” of Aegean Fatigue and the Yiddish-inflected Kiss from the Last Red Squirrel, were created specifically for the festival in collaboration with the theatre. Submissions pour in from all over the country too. One, a video of a typhoon being made in a café, has become 15 Storms in a Teacup, where ecosystems are created on stage in miniature using household materials. “The people who present the work are the artists. They have created the work as opposed to receiving a script and performing that,” Ball says. “A lot of the work is visually led. It’s about the images and the movements as much as the words.” Sprint was the lure that first brought Ball to the theatre four years ago, as the director of an aerialist show about Ariadne. He liked the theatre’s “willingness to take risks”.

These risks, by their nature, must involve the audience to some extent. Ball remembers a show last year called The Long Walk to the Performance that was set up like a birthday party, with the audience invited on to the stage at one point to dance and make merry. One night a young group of friends took over, turning the performance into their own party, even eating the birthday cake. The company adapted with good humour. Another year the theatre troupe Ridiculismus ran a cloakroom, neglecting to tell the audience they would be using their coats and bags as the costumes. “It’s quite a risky game, particularly as one of the actors was very big,” laughs Ball. “There were a few stretched items of clothing.

“But whilst we’re taking risks, it’s important the audience is taken care of. We try to make it so that if you are in a bed with someone it doesn’t feel too weird.”

Sprint Festival 2008 is at the Camden People’s Theatre, 58-60 Hampstead Road, NW1, from May 29 until June 29. To book tickets call 08700 600 100.

The Driver