When: 21st June – 7th July 2018
Where: Royal Greenwich, Royal Docks and Tower Hamlets, London
£: Ticket prices vary, depending on the event. Many events are free
What is it?
Greenwich+Docklands International Festival (GDIF), London’s leading festival of outdoor theatre and performing arts, will run from Thursday 21st June to Saturday 7th July in locations across Royal Greenwich, Royal Docks and Tower Hamlets.
Audiences are invited to ‘dream a little dream’ over 17 midsummer days of outdoor theatre and performance, in which public spaces are transformed, with more than 130 performances celebrating dreams of love, struggle, ambition and flight.
The festival will open with an extraordinary union of public art and nature. On the edge of the capital at Thamesmead, Duke Riley’s Fly by Night will see a flock of 1,500 specially trained pigeons take to the sky over the Thames at dusk. Lit by LED lights in tiny leg bands, traditionally used in wartime for carrying messages, this event will transform an aspect of everyday London life into a beautiful performance in the sky.
The dreams of 492 pioneer migrants who sailed from Jamaica and Trinidad to Tilbury Dock on board the Empire Windrush exactly 70 years ago, will provide the inspiration behind Gateway, a specially commissioned and curated series of events straddling Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks.
High above the Thames, a sound installation created and produced by sound artist Xana in tribute to the Windrush generation, will accompany passengers in the cabins of the Emirates Air Line.
Other elements of the programme will take inspiration from global stories of mass movement and migration, including Never Set Eyes on the Land, an installation from Nutkhut recalling the experience and legacy of Partition in 1947; and French hip hop company Dyptik, who will explore the struggles associated with contemporary border crossings in D-Construction, an emotional production that will take place on and around a symbolic fence structure.
Windrush: 492 will see the names of the individuals who arrived on the ship transcribed in photoluminescent powder onto the ground around Cutty Sark Gardens, accompanied by a soundscape written by Greenwich playwright Roy Williams.
Continuing its reputation for spectacular large-scale free productions, this year’s GDIF will present the world première of Rise! in Woolwich. The production will see giant puppets from French company L’Homme debout tell an uplifting local and global story of the continuing struggle by women for equality and rights.
Also in Woolwich, the world première of Graeae Theatre Company’s epic outdoor production, This Is Not For You, will honour Britain’s wounded and disabled war veterans, whose contribution has often gone unrecognised. This powerful production will be staged against the resonant setting of the Royal Arsenal, and be presented as part of 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War Centenary.
North of the river, in Bow, French company Remue Ménage will present the UK première of their magical La Parade Amoureuse, bringing the wildness of northern forests to Roman Road, with illuminated animal puppets, dance and entrancing music for a midsummer night. In Eltham, Catalonian company Tombs Creatius will bring their interactive street games, and Company Furinkaï will present Origami, a gravity-defying dance performance on a moving shipping container for Eltham Unpacked.
Greenwich Fair weekend will return from Friday 22nd to Sunday 24th June, packed with 18 UK and international theatre companies. This festival within a festival will open on the Friday with Undaunted, a high wire walk from Phoebe Bullzini, the UK’s only female wire-walker; specially commissioned to mark the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act that gave some women in the UK the vote for the first time.
Other Greenwich Fair highlights will include the world première of Icarus from Southpaw Dance Company, co-commissioned with The Place as part of a new outdoor dance initiative called Stomping Ground; a playful integration of circus and live painting in PLOCK! by Flemish theatre company Grensgeval; and the London première of Belly of the Whale, from circus dance company Ockham’s Razor.
At Canary Wharf, this year’s Dancing City programme will bring together performances from nine dance companies, including award-winning Catalan Cia Moveo, Candoco Dance Company with new commission Dedicated to…, as well as performances of Dopamine from Ballet Black.
This year’s festival will conclude with a large-scale, outdoor dance-theatre retelling of Beautiful Thing, capturing the urban realism and fairytale fantasy of Jonathan Harvey’s iconic 1993 play.
More info: festival.org/gdif-2018