Big, bold, bright and packed with music, song, dance and more. The 2022 Norfolk and Norwich Festival starts on May 13 and promises something for everyone.
A very short burst of live music, a cascade of toppling dominoes, ten minute dance parties, elaborate window displays, short shows that seem to make absolutely no sense whatsoever and others which speak to your soul.
It can only be the Norfolk and Norwich Festival with its bucketful of music, song, dance, circus, art, drama, laugh-out-loud performances and intense acts.
Everything goes at the Festival which runs May 13-29 – and it’s all about involving everyone and celebrating the wonderful uniqueness of Norfolk.
Community is a big theme for the 2022 Festival, and to mark 250 years of Norfolk & Norwich Festival, special multi-year projects focusing on working with Norfolk communities are being developed.
That means inspiring volunteers, encouraging people to watch performances, involving schools in shows and filmmaking, and artists taking their work all over the county.
From sopranos on the beach and landscape operas at Great Yarmouth to haikus and breakdancing in Norwich, from bus trails to Kings Lynn to pop up world musical premieres in Norwich and protest songs in Diss and Sheringham, there’s plenty to see and do.
“It’s all about community and Festival spirit,” said James Hardie, Festival music programmer.
“It’s bringing people together around pieces of music and art,” he said, describing how the Norfolk community thrives in the spirit of the Festival.
“I don’t think there is anywhere that has quite the same enthusiasm for art and culture than Norwich and Norfolk does,” he said.
The acceptance and enthusiasm from Norfolk’s communities to watch artists, installations and performances, and to get involved, means the Festival team can organise a huge variety of events with plenty of opportunities to get involved.
“Community is a huge part of the Festival. There is so much that is not high-brow culture, although we do have that. It is getting people involved,” said Daniel Brine, Festival director.
Among the work he can’t wait for audiences to see is the set of Lost and Found films created by Norfolk artists working with schoolchildren looking at the history – real or imagined – of Norfolk.
“It’s a really lovely set of films where the kids have really thought about it,” he said.
Another event, Every Step is a Different Height, will see volunteers giving tours of the Guildhall. But rather than simply talking about its history, the volunteers are working with artists and costume designers so the tours are performance-style. “It’s about building rapport with the community,” said Daniel, admitting that he spends more time watching audiences at performances than watching the show.
One of the projects currently recruiting young volunteers aged between 18 and 25 will see them putting together a website about the history of the Festival, said Daniel, inviting those interested to contact [email protected]
During the Festival itself he can’t wait for elements such as the mini raves; ten minute dance parties where anyone can join, or the bedtime story idea which will see children from Norfolk, Canada and Singapore reading bedtime stories to people in different countries, live.
“I really think people like the chance to do something different,” said Daniel, pointing out a performance with children from Diss and Sheringham which sees them joined throughout one day by more and more musicians.
“The Festival does a lot of bringing people together,” he said, encouraging people to listen and look out for lots of pop-up shows and performances while they’re out and about. Some may only last for a minute.
“We’ve had composers writing one minute pieces and those will pop up, with live musicians, every hour and suddenly there will be a blast of music, a fanfare. Then it will be gone,” he said.
Norfolk and Norwich Festival runs May 13-29. See the programme at nnfestival.org.uk
Get involved in the Festival’s community events
Posters, Pamphlets & other Paraphernalia
From 90s football programmes to DIY zines, goblincore to glossy mags, creative voices from different communities feature in a display exploring the historic role of print in public discourse. Led by artists Hester Stefan Chillingworth and Salome Wagaine the project delves into the different communities and subcultures of Norfolk.
Ad/Dressing the City
This year’s Festival revives the tradition of city shopkeepers dressing their windows to celebrate the event. Look out for some amazing displays in independent shop windows from now until May 31 across the city, created by 10 Norfolk artists to celebrate creativity and create a Festival buzz.
This is The Sign You Have Been Waiting For
What does a brown tourist sign look like in the hands of an inventive artist? Look out for the work by Hester Stefan Chillingworth who has created a collection of playful new signs for the city as alternative interpretations of traditional signage. It’s in the city centre, May 14-29.
A series of menus based on Norwich’s cultural history, presented as takeaways. That’s the work by writer Salome Wagaine who wants us to explore the past and present of Norwich’s casual dining scene. To find out what that means, pick up a copy throughout the Festival from the Festival Box Office at the Guildhall in Gaol Hill, Norwich.
Every Step is a Different Height
The title is a clue to the intriguing facts and trivia that volunteers will be sharing with the audience in a tour of the Guildhall. Artists Lone Twin has created a guild of volunteers to walk audiences through the unique spaces of the medieval Guildhall, which is now the Festival’s home, to remember 250 years of Festivals past.
Lost & Found Films of Norfolk
Ask children to explain fictitious events from the past, present or future of Norfolk, add filmmaking and artists to work with them, and the short films created are absolutely magical. The films will be running in The Gallery at The Forum from 12noon-5pm on Saturday, and Sunday, May 21 and 22. No need to book – just come along to watch.
A moving sculpture of thousands of breezeblocks will traverse the city in a toppling flow over the course of a day. It’s a community effort too, with hundreds of people setting up or watching the dominoes as they wind their way through the city. Dominoes, by Station House Opera, sees the dominoes line thread its way through historical and everyday parts of the city, linking its diverse communities from Anglia Square to The Forum in a symbolic as well as physical chain of cause and effect. It starts May 13, 6pm at Anglia Square.
10 Minute Dance Parties
Music, lights, an intimate venue, and only one request – you have to dance. Ten-minute dance parties sees artist JOF collaborate with local young people to create a unique dance event. There will be world record attempts, dance move competitions, dedications, interpretations and ventures into the unknown all within each ten-minute party. Find it at the Forum, May 25-28, 11 am -1 pm and 2-4 pm.
A group of young men, talking about making modifications to their cars, and then a how-to workshop offering to people how to do the same at home. It’s a very different act for the Festival, and one set to draw in a keen car-customising crowd. Based in Rose Lane car park in Norwich from May 18-21, the show is set in Bradford and while there is plenty of car chat, it’s also a thought-provoking look at racial profiling.
Britten Sinfonia with kids
Some Norfolk school children have been exploring music with members of the chamber orchestra ensemble Britten Sinfonia and this concert is another opportunity for young people to discover the magic of classical instruments, music and storytelling. At Blackfriars’ Hall on May 20, it’s an informal concert for children aged five and up based on Nadia Shireen’s funny and heroic tale, Billy and the Beast.
Full information at at nnfestival.org.uk