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Greenwich+Docklands International Festival Announces Full Programme For 2021


Blue Remembered Hills, Balsam and Family Tree tickets (£10-£15) are now on sale.

GDIF, London's leading outdoor theatre and performing arts festival, is today announcing its full programme for 2021, taking place from 27 August - 11 September across Royal Greenwich, the City of London, Canary Wharf, Thamesmead and the Royal Docks.

Highlights include:

  • A site responsive production of Dennis Potter's Blue Remembered Hills
  • Two monumental works from Swiss artist Dan Acher, We Are Watching, and Borealis, a recreation of the Northern Lights over Greenwich and Woolwich
  • Family Tree by Mojisola Adebayo, directed by Matthew Xia in a site-responsive promenade work-in-progress production co-commissioned by ATC and the Young Vic
  • Quays Culture's Mystery Bird, a giant birdcage with soundscape and projection
  • Reflection Gardens and After the Storm, magical Thames-side spectacles created by Walk the Plank on 2 sites in Woolwich and the Royal Docks
  • Requardt & Rosenberg's new dance work, Future Cargo, presented from a shipping container in the Royal Docks
  • Two days of outdoor dance with 9 companies in Canary Wharf in Dancing City
  • Jeanefer Jean-Charles' Black Victorians at the Guildhall Yard in the City of London and Woolwich
  • The return of the popular 'festival within a festival', Greenwich Fair

GDIF 2021 puts free outdoor arts centre-stage and marks our emergence from the pandemic with productions that celebrate our reconnection with the natural world, renewing? the festival's commitment to internationalism and offering? space for children and young people to rediscover the joy in play, creativity, and togetherness.

GDIF's Artistic Director, Bradley Hemmings said: "GDIF 2021 explores what we've learned over the past 18 months, placing the great outdoors at the heart of an optimistic and forward-looking artistic programme, whilst celebrating difference, diversity and inclusion with productions which transform perceptions and call for change."

As part of a new two-year partnership with the Diplomatic Representation of Flanders to the UK, GDIF presents De Roovers' site-responsive production of Dennis Potter's Blue Remembered Hills at a site in Thamesmead which has been officially closed to the public for more than 100 years; Antwerp-based theatre company Laika bring their sensory, immersive experience Balsam, in which live music combines with the creation of aromatic, healing potions and elixirs; and Flanders' vibrant circus and outdoor arts sector will also be represented by League and Legend from 15feet6 and Automata Carousel by Geert Hautekiet. This significant new partnership sets out to inspire cross-cultural working between the culturally vibrant and diverse destinations of Flanders and London.

Jan Jambon, minister-president of Flanders, said today: 'Flanders is known for its outstanding and innovative performing arts. This year, we are more than happy to showcase some of this talent in the Royal Borough of Greenwich and invite you to enjoy the work of De Roovers, Laika, Geert Hautekiet and 15feet6. This partnership is perhaps even more precious this year, because in times of crisis, culture brings hope. Covid-19 has reaffirmed the importance of culture and our basic need to engage with it.'

Inspired by the public's increased awareness of nature, wildlife and birdsong during the long months of lockdown, Quays Culture's Mystery Bird is a travelling installation in the form of a giant birdcage which will roam through the streets at dusk with a soundscape and projections of birds, which will then be symbolically "released" to fly across the buildings, trees and landscapes of Charlton and Plumstead on 1 and 2 September.

Healing Together is a programme of street arts, installation and performance with the environment at its heart, taking place across two sites at Royal Victoria Gardens in North Woolwich, Royal Docks, and Woolwich Town Centre in the Royal Borough of Greenwich on 10 and 11 September. Re-uniting two riverside communities, performances include Highly Sprung's Urban Astronaut, a stunning aerial production in which an astronaut searches for a solution to the climate emergency; Bumble Movement Arts's Bee-ology, weaving together juggling, storytelling, dance, and puppetry for young audiences; and Jason Singh's The Hidden Music of Trees, an installation which allows audiences to experience nature in an enhanced augmented reality environment. The Woolwich programme will also include projects co-created by grass roots artists and communities, including spoken word performances developed by local young people with Rasheeda Page-Muir, specially commissioned tapestries from Lucy Isaiah, and an installation created by members of the Caribbean Social Forum; whilst the Royal Docks programme will see performances and installations from local LGBTQ+ artists to mark Pride weekend. Healing Together will also include the atmospheric Reflection Gardens created by Walk the Plank on opposite banks of the Thames, in which audiences are invited to wander and reflect against the backdrop of the river. Closing the festival will be a finale entitled After the Storm, delivering a river-based spectacle which can be viewed from both sides of the Thames.

The pandemic has deeply impacted the lives and mental health of children and young people and the festival is responding with a programme which makes space for creativity, expression and play. Giving voice to young people will be Good Youtes Walk by Far From the Norm, exploring how young people are reclaiming their future by building unity and empathy that transcends race, class, gender and geography through hip hop dance theatre as part of Greenwich Fair on 29 August and On Your Doorstep Thamesmead on 30 August. Daryl Beeton's non-verbal story of two friends' journey through a world which leaves them out, to the discovery that they can rip up the rule book, is a heart-warming and imaginative show aimed at 3-6 year-olds. Other featured companies will include Just More Productions, offering a feast of food and storytelling across geography and generations in their immersive comedy circus show, Do What Yah Mamma Told Yah!, while The Rascally Diner will be cooking up a stink and asking for help to ward off 'evil cakes' in LAStheatre's messy and fun-filled interactive street show. Teatro Stalker will present three highly interactive, visually arresting theatre games in which participants will be able to create a giant meccano installation, assemble a forest of rainbow sticks, and create an evolving series of outdoor installations with just a few props.

GDIF's 2021 programme and new commissions continue to reflect the festival's commitment to showcasing and supporting inclusive work led by diverse artists. Jeanefer Jean-Charles's Black Victorians, inspired by an ongoing archive project by Autograph exploring 'hidden figures', returns in a newly-expanded version in partnership with the City of London Corporation, as part of their Outdoor Arts programme, A Thing of Beauty. Questioning themes around exploitation and ethics in healthcare, Artistic Director of Actors Touring Company Matthew Xia directs Family Tree by Mojisola Adebayo, performed in the Gardens at Charlton House from 27-30 August.

Other highlights of the theatre and dance programme include The Cultural Assembly's interactive augmented reality promenade piece, Up My Street; Talawa Theatre Company's emotionally charged hip hop theatre production of The Tide, exploring narratives and experiences of migration; Alleyne Dance's latest dance theatre creation Bonded; Nikki Charlesworth's fusion of puppetry and storytelling What Happened to You?; and Fatt Projects' Big Gay Disco Bike.

Continuing GDIF's focus on celebrating public space in innovative and unexpected ways, Requardt & Rosenberg will present the London premiere of their extraordinary new sci-fi fusion of contemporary dance and binaural sound, presented from a shipping container at a waterfront site at Pontoon Dock in the Royal Docks. Dancing City will return to Canary Wharf from 4-5 September, in an extended two-day programme with highlights including LIFE, a juggling performance based on the choreographies of Merce Cunningham from Gandini Juggling; Ofir Yudilevitch's Gravitas, a playful acrobatic dialogue with gravity on a giant airmat; and Joseph Toonga's Born to Protest, a hip hop dance theatre piece from Just Us Dance that aims to dismantle presumptions about the black male figure based on intimidation, danger and isolation.

Dramatic dance and design will also be making an appearance at Greenwich Peninsula, which will soon be home to a brand-new creative Design District. Patrick Ziza's flamboyant celebration of African style, Dandyism, and Ashley Peevor's experimental composition, The Lost Opera, will delight audiences along The Tide, London's first linear riverside park. This bold use of public space will continue to highlight GDIF's commitment to celebrating communal space and looking hopefully to the future through the shared joy of Outdoor Arts.

Some events are ticketed but free, in line with current government guidelines.

Blue Remembered Hills, Balsam and Family Tree tickets (£10-£15) are now on sale. An allocation of tickets will be available for free for local residents.

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