Wunderbar Festival 2009

A new concept is afoot – performance art in people’s homes? What’s this all about?

Wunderbar Festival 2009 is hosting 12 incredible experiences in 12 homes across the North East this November. This outstanding new commission invites audiences into the homes of members of the public to see incredible new art performances – offering once-in-a-life-time insight into the astonishing diversity of people’s homes.

Tours of People’s Homes is a new commission for the internationally acclaimed artist Joshua Sofaer, who will lead a number of workshops culminating in a series of public performances inside the homes of selected participants. Members of the public have been working with the artist and director over the last few months to develop a tour or encounter in their own home.

What a strange and unique concept. This really is the democratization of the performing arts. If you’re in the area, it’s well worth a visit. I’m particularly looking forward to Craig Astley’s “Pop Sandwich” – how fun. We were all young once. A bit of nostalgia for the good times? DIY is rife…and I like it!

Highlights of Tours of People’s Homes include:

Walnuts and Grapefruits
Pauline Frost tells the story of how she discovered her healing powers. Pauline invites you to hear her miraculous story, and to learn why a walnut can be a matter of life and death….

Bath Time
Katy Merrington and her brother Peter welcome members of the public into their warm and friendly home and run a deep bubble bath for you. With tenderness, respect and time, they’ll listen to your preferences and pamper participating audiences.

A Pop Sandwich
Craig Astley invites you to his “Pop Sandwich” in which he will indulge audiences in popular programmes, pop music and fizzy pop. Astley will allow you to share three experiences in three different rooms and indulge in watching, eating, looking and listening and, literally drinking ‘pop’.

Make A Splosh
Katie Fletcher invites audiences to “Make s Splosh” in which she welcomes visitors for a slap up meal. However they will have to decide whether to eat it or throw it. Hurl the hamburgers, toss the tart, pitch the peas, lob the lentils and propel the pancakes. Katie asks that you join her for a feast of pleasures and indulge in playing with your food.

Craig Astley, star of A Pop Sandwich said “It’s been really satisfying being a part of this project as it appeals to many sides of my personality from the décor-obsessed, proud homeowner to the record collector to the mild showoff to the perpetually, “theming” event host. Tours of People’s Homes has meant I could bring all of this together and devise a really indulgent experience for an audience.”

Wunderbar Festival 2009 will bring exciting multi-art form, contemporary performances and visual art to the North East. The festival will present work by pioneering artists that is challenging, brave, different and thought-provoking, alongside large scale spectacles with a definite ‘wow’ factor and charming, quirky, unexpected happenings that will surprise and delight.

Further Tours of People’s Homes performances will include:• Building a shed with Dan Civico
• Spending an hour in the company Carole Luby and her horses.
• Listening to fireside fables and graveyard tails with Peter Saaremets and Claire Webster Saaremets
• Having a private chat with Nathalie Levi
• Accepting Kate Stobbart’s invitation to tea
• Step into drawers, chests and wardrobes with Nicola Singh
• Unravelling a house history in Hexham with Bob Hull

Tickets can be purchased at www.wunderbarfestvial.co.uk/TOPH or at the Wunderbar box office located at Dance City. Locations will be provided when tickets are obtained. Houses are not open to the public and Tours will take place at allocated times.

Other Wunderbar highlights include:

Performances by Internationally acclaimed artist Alistair Mclennan
Internationally acclaimed performance artist Alistair McLennan will produce one of his infamous pieces for the Festival. McLennan’s work over the past 30+ years has been at the forefront of the international performance scene. A new commission in collaboration with Locus+, who are renowned for creating hugely innovative temporary exhibitions and installations in non-gallery locations.

Dinner with America
A year on from Obama’s election, this works looks at our perceptions of ‘America,’ via historical recordings and sound bites alongside Shah’s own highly arresting visual and performative interpretation. I wonder what this one will be like?

Who wants to be…? – The People Speak
The ‘ask the audience’ game show! Did you know that in the ‘Ask the Audience’ bit of the TV gameshow ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire‘, the audience is right 98.9% of the time? ‘Who Wants to Be…?’ is a live reality gameshow where the audience make up the questions, have all the answers, and set their own rules, using a simple voting system.

Haircuts by Children
Would you let a nine-year-old loose on your hair? Trained to greet, style, chat, cut and colour just as a hairdresser would, a group of children will be offering their hairdressing services to the public during the festival!

From Here on Out
How does this city work? Where does all of this stuff come from? Explore the props, pulleys and power that underlie urban life in From Here on Out, a city walk with a difference. A 45-minute video and sound walk gives you a kind of x-ray vision of the city, layering the cityscape with images of the otherwise invisible processes that drive it. You are invited to experience a city where the back lane is a dairy farm, the shopping centre is a colliery, and there’s a power station on your street corner. Experience the unseen and unspoken substructures of the city brought to life in the centre of Newcastle.

Listening to Leonids
Between the 10th and 20th of November 2009, Earth will pass through a stream of meteors, the Leonids – a prolific meteor shower known as “the King of Meteor Showers” – producing not only a spectacular light show in the night sky, but also the opportunity to hear their progress across the upper atmosphere.

Astronomers have noticed a unique phenomenon relating to meteors, as under certain circumstances, observers seem able to hear meteors as they see them. Technically this should be impossible, as, travelling at the speed of sound, these noises should take around 5 minutes to arrive on earth. However, a phenomenon has been discovered suggesting that certain everyday household objects responding to electromagnetic radiation given off by the meteor can act as makeshift radio receivers. These objects can be as varied as aluminium foil, wire-frame glasses, thin wires, pine needles, old aerials, and even dry or frizzy hair!

To test out this theory, Ed Carter will be spending time in preparatory research at Kielder Observatory during the festival and will be sharing his findings in an online diary you can follow on this page. As part of the Wunderbar Grand Chaser on Sunday 15th, Ed will present his research findings and show you how you too can ‘Listen to Leonids’. The peak time for hearing and seeing the Leonids is on 17th and 18th November, so make sure you’re prepared to be part of this celestial spectacle.

Watch Me Fall – Action Hero“I’m going over in a barrel. I’m leaving the cannon, hitting the ramp at 90mph and clearing ten double decker buses. I might fall. I might break my body into several pieces, but then I’ll pick myself up, dust myself off and do it all over again. This time, I’m going higher, further and faster. Tonight, I will attempt the impossible.”

Action Hero have measured it out, done a few calculations and they’re confident … it could go either way. Come along and cheer for us, pull for us, pray for us and watch us fall. Watch Me Fall is for the daredevils. It’s our obsession with those who attempt the impossible, the futility of their attempts and their inevitable fall from grace. Set on a DIY runway with a standing audience, Action
Hero pushes the limit in the name of entertainment.

Wunderbar Festival runs from 6th-15th Nov 2009 www.wunderbarfestival.co.uk/

Images © Craig Astley