Chagall’s goat; a magical luminarium; the tale of Pinocchio in dance and films chosen by Mark Kermode – all this is on offer and more at Canterbury’s Gulbenkian over two glorious days at the end of August.
WOW’s editor Emma Dewhurst asked LIZ MORAN, Director of Gulbenkian and founder and Artistic Director of bOing!, to tell us all about it.
Firstly, could you tell us how bOing! came about and how it has grown?
I joined Gulbenkian in 2011 and have a personal passion for and commitment to work with, for and by children and young people. I began to develop our programme to include more work for families and older young people. One of our initiatives was a family day called ‘Bounce’ in 2013. We were so overwhelmed by the response to that event that it fuelled the idea to develop it into a bigger festival – bOing!. We were successful in securing funding from Arts Council England and Kent County Council and the first bOing! was launched in 2014.
What is your vision for bOing!?
Central to our vision for bOing! is a ‘family’ festival with a programme and activities that genuinely have something for all ages from 0-110 to share, be inspired by and enjoy together. We are also committed to ensuring our work is accessible to all and work with companies such as Oily Cart and Frozen Light. The latter bring their immersive production, ‘Home’, for audiences with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD), to this year’s festival.
Gulbenkian appears to take enormous trouble to include the very young in its programming. Is this part of your overall remit?
We believe that no matter what age you are you should have access to creative work of the highest quality. We don’t think of children and young people as audiences of the future but rather audiences now.
The world premiere of ‘Pinocchio’ by Jasmin Vardimon Company takes place at bOing! 2016. How did this come about?
We are fortunate to have such an internationally renowned company based in Kent. Their work is highly innovative and of the highest quality and yet until now Jasmin had not created any work with children and young people in mind. We discussed this and ‘Pinocchio’ was born! This is very exciting for us as after bOing! the show goes on a national tour to venues such as Sadler’s Wells.
What other new pieces might we see?
The programme includes several UK premieres, including the incredible Compagnia TPO from Italy, with a beautiful piece creating an interactive ‘Pop Up Garden’. We have commissioned a show for the very young from France inspired by the artist Chagall and we have also co-commissioned ‘RIDE’, a new outdoor show which features a Red Orion car as you have never seen a car before! And a first for Kent is the stunning Mirazozo Luminarium which has been created by Architects of Air – a cathedral of light and colour.
It’s great that in addition to top UK companies, bOing! brings quality international work to Kent. Dybwikdans from Norway are returning this year: what do they do?
Following their lovely show for babies last year, Dybwikdans return with a show for a slightly older age range of 3-5 years, based on ‘The Princess and the Pea’. The company was so impressed with bOing! last year that they are in discussion with funders in Norway about the need for a bOing! in Norway.
What are you most looking forward to at this year’s festival?
I genuinely cannot single anything out! What I most look forward to is the buzz and excitement that bOing! seems to generate and the fact that for some children this will be their very first experience of live performance.
Is there anything else you would particularly like to mention?
Yes! ART31 (young people aged 14-25 years) have their own stage and are programming everything for that themselves, including bands such as Tankus the Henge.
Also, we have an international discussion chaired by Noel Jordan (Festival Director of Imaginate) to debate who decides what children should/can see, given that cinema has very strict regulation and live performance does not.
How do you envisage bOing! will develop in the future?
We expect the festival to develop over a longer period in future years and to have more activity taking place across Kent. As mentioned the Norway connection is very exciting and as we develop closer relationships with companies and festivals in Spain, France, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium and others we hope to have even more international collaboration and to attract international delegates to engage and debate issues around creating and producing work for children and young people.
Many events are free. For ticketed events email firstname.lastname@example.org, call: 01227 769075 or buy in person at the Gulbenkian. A limited number of baby on lap tickets are available per show or screening.
Look out for a week of surprises in Canterbury City Centre in the lead up to bOing!
Gulbenkian, University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7NB.
Top image: RIDE by Zoielogic Dance Theatre.
This interview first appeared in the August 2016 issue of WOW magazine.