’We have been organising the Beach Bash for a few years now, but we wanted to raise the artistic profile of the event and open the programme to international companies. This year, thanks to our partnership with Zap Art, we did just that’, says Dave Rose from company Grand Theatre of Lemmings, also Manningtree Beach Bash organiser.
And the audience from the smallest town in the UK was delighted : ’You’ve GOT to see the French couple !’, a spectator advises her friend, tears of laughter still in her eyes.
The ’French couple’ is the couple of artists from Kitschnette, who settle the score in ’On passe à table’. For their UK premiere, the company is very pleased with the reaction of the public, and smiles at cultural differences : ’People don’t laugh about or get outraged by the same things here’, notices Anne-Laure Manory, production manager of the company. ’For instance, when the performers play with food, the audience shows much more disgust here than the French’.
Later, on the beach. Who’s that oddball crashing the sand castle competition ? The audience is wary of Bruitquicourtcompany’s Soundimal Tamer to start with. Then his invisible zoo coming out from all over the beach intrigues, amuses and wins the public over. The sand castles were almost forgotten…
The town and the residents made the two French companies feel very welcome, and the French flag and other typical items were scattered around, even in the shops windows.
Because Beach Bash is also a community-led event in Manningtree : lots of volunteers are involved, kids can take part in various crafts activities and some of the local community groups showcase their work.
And this year’s huge surprise is that the Grand Theatre of Lemmings, whose studio is in Manningtree, performed here for the first time ! ’For most of the audience it was a great discovery, to see what we do for a living and also for our friends who who have never seen our work - which is why so many people came over to talk to us after the performance !’ Not easy task though, to be both organiser and performer at a festival…’We are running around a bit, juggling between performing and ensuring the smooth running of the festival, but it’s great fun !’, Dave continues.
The audience gave a warm welcome to the "Mechanical Morris Men" ; two other artists of the company also perform ’Cod Choir’, a walkabout full of singing and play-on-words and stilt-walking show ’Camel Illusion’.
’I think we planted the ’street-theatre’ seeds in Beach Bash this year, with the intention of helping and supporting Manningtree to develop street-theatre in Beach Bash over the next few years. There is a lot of motivation and enthusiasm for this here’, Zap Art Director Dave Reeves concludes.