I write with a heavy heart that Week 53, the festival for the compulsively curious, has taken it’s final bow. The curtain is drawn and the house lights have been turned back on again. Whilst we all wish that we could continue on through weeks 54, 55, and 56 (ad infinitum), alas the Dock tomorrow will go back to housing trucks and not summery festival parties.
What a wonderful week it has been though, and we’ve been left with countless highlights and memories to take with us once all goes back to business as usual. Personally it’s been a real, genuine pleasure to be a part of this festival – keeping you, the reader, informed and up to date with all the latest action. I’ve seen a lot of things, and as I write this I have just left the Dock after watching “Tales of Whatever”, a sort of live podcast style performance in which people get on stage and tell stories from their lives. It’s a really compelling hour of entertainment and it goes to show that everyone has stories. The delivery of the performance is relaxed and sitting in the big comfortable red chair near the front of the stage I could have happily spent the night listening to these tales until the guys who are de-rigging the space came to kick me out.
For the rest of the day the Dock has been the scene of the final day celebrations. There was limbo, giant jenga, three-legged races and a great atmosphere amongst the staff and public alike who were all soaking in the last of the festival vibes that still remained in the air. I was doing my customary duty of asking the audiences for their reactions to what they’d been seeing, except today I was looking to see what they had made of the week overall.
“I’ve really enjoyed the experience”, one lad told me, “it’s something totally different and I think more people should try and do things like this”. I’d done my part on spreading the good word by selling the idea of the festival to my friend on the premise of cheap drinks on the Dock bar, but he ended up with not only a quenched thirst for lager, but culture too!
“I’ve been impressed, I wouldn’t normally have come down but the festival has sort of made the idea of theatre a bit more accessible to me”, he explained. To own my shame I must admit that I’d been slacking in recent months, having seen perhaps only a handful of shows since working at The Lowry – but the festival has reignited the spark of interest in live theatre and opened up a whole world of performance that I’d never really been exposed to before.
The dance show, Chotto Desh, for example has been a highlight of mine. I’d never have thought that before the festival and now I can’t wait to see more. Another moment that stands out amongst the many during the week was the brilliant “17 Border Crossings”, what is particularly nice is that it was so popular amongst the staff here at The Lowry and chatting with colleagues about the shows we’ve seen has been really eye opening, hearing different thoughts and opinions.
Overall I think the thing I will take away from Week 53 is that taking a chance on something you’re unsure about more often than not results in a pleasant surprise, or at the very least an interesting story to tell – and who knows, maybe that story would compel you onto a stage of your own.