Greetings Blog readers! Here’s a quick post about the Morecambe Variety Festival from the weekend before last.
This was an event organised by the lovely Neil Kendall and was at the Winter Gardens in Morecambe. They had done this event before in 2012 but this is the first time we at Rough Magic Theatre have been involved.
Those of you who are local will know that for many years the Winter Gardens was left empty and was in a very poor state of repair. However volunteers and the Friends of the Winter Gardens have been painstakingly working away to conserve and renovate the space.
Now it is possible to see what an amazing space it is, was and could be in the future given more money and more love. Below is a video showing some of what the volunteers have been up to:
The festival attracted a lot of local people who hadn’t seen inside the building before and although there is still a lot to do they are very proud to have toilets and a cafe now which help to make the building a more usable and practical space.
Also the fellow performers I was sharing a dressing room with explained that I was lucky as when they had been involved with the festival in 2012 there had been no heating in the dressing rooms. I am told that there are plans to install heating in the rest of the building which will be a massive leap forward as it will not only mean that the space can be used in the winter time but should also help minimise further deterioration of the plaster, paintwork etc. due to damp.
All that aside, you can see from the photo’s that even in its present state of slightly delapidated grandeur it was a wonderful setting for a quirky vintage style variety festival like this.
During the day, there were a lot of different performances going on, both outside the entrance of the building and on the main stage and around the edges of the downstairs auditorium and I with my Shadow Puppet Suitcase shows performed in the main auditorium area as well as the entrance hall and outside the building too as was appropriate. You can see Neil’s photo of my “Jabberwocky!” show by clicking HERE.
There was also a showing Georges Melies’s “A Trip to the Moon” film with a specially composed musical score in one of the downstairs bar areas and also other things in spaces upstairs too. I have only recently discovered Georges Melies but since I have, he seems to be popping up everywhere. Below is a video of the film which has been restored and uses the hand-coloured version of the film:
After I had finished my shows on Sunday we saw the “Empty Theatre Tour” which had characters from the different eras of the theatre’s history conducting a tour of the building in character and contrived to convey an idea of being haunted by the history of the building, (in a nice way).
I had half a day performing on both the Saturday and the Sunday and since we were planning to attend the evening “Around the World in 80 Days” Cabaret Fancy Dress Ball event on the Friday night we booked into a Morecambe Guest House for convenience sake.
The evening entertainment was a combination of quirky variety and circus acts and burlesque performances, with the majority of the performers doing 2 separate performances. These were linked together by a “flashman” M.C. and his put upon lackey touring the globe looking for the fabulous pink diamond of Limpopo!
In addition there was a fancy dress competition which was won by a lady who had made an ingenious outfit out of the pages of the “Morecambe Visitor”.
Speaking of marvellous local events. We’ll be appearing at Bentham CARnival again this year at the end of the month, (to find out more about the event click HERE). It will be a part of the Yorkshire Festival this year and is celebrating the opening of the “Way of the Roses” Passing Place Artwork in particular. To find out more about this there is another page for CARnival Bentham by Bike that you can visit by clicking HERE.
The artwork is a giant pair of Queen Victoria’s bloomers made out of wire mesh to commemorate the fact that the silk for Queen Victoria’s bloomers was woven at the Bentham Silk Mill. So bloomers are one of the themes this year as well as fish and fat sheep on bicycles.
I’ll be doing my Edward Lear’s Nonsense show which feature a pair of bloomers/”drawers” made of rabbit skins amongst other things and Tim will be the Mad Hatter who on this occasion will be doing a spot of fishing out of his teapots and kettles!