Festival of Fools – Belfast – 28 Apr – 1 May – Preview by Cathy Brown
As the Belfast Festival of Fools launches its programme for the 14th year, it has never seemed so necessary. Since its inception in 2004, it has cemented an international reputation for presenting some of the finest and funniest street theatre from across the globe. Now, in 2017, the Festival is continuing to celebrate laughter, slapstick and physical theatre despite threats of retail development, an unsettled political environment and funding constraints.
Launching the Festival, Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Mary Ellen Campbell called Festival of Fools ‘the most loved and looked forward to Festival for the city’s families’ and indeed, it is. From Friday 28 April to Monday 1 May 2017, Belfast City Centre will come alive with: acrobatics, circus acts, clowning and astounding tomfoolery, all for free! It’s perfect for families who fail to plan ahead and for tourists who can simply stroll around sampling the delights of comedic talents from around the world delivered in the universal language of laughter. The packed programme contains 120 free performances over the course of the Festival, together with all of the food and drink deals making it one of Northern Ireland’s most affordable and inclusive Festivals.
Will Chamberlain, Artistic Director of the Festival of Fools, said: “I am absolutely delighted to be able to introduce another wonderful weekend of talent from around the world onto the streets of Belfast City Centre and the Cathedral Quarter. In a year which has seen so much bad news, we find there is much to celebrate as we bring Belfast’s public spaces to life with comedy, circus and a little bit of glamour. Bringing together people from all backgrounds, ages and territories to unite in a celebration of laughter and talent from around the corner and around the world.”
Festival of Fools really is a global festival, presenting some of the finest street theatre from Spain, Italy, USA, Canada and Holland, along with Northern Ireland’s comparable homegrown talent.
The Festival, which attracts an audience of almost 50,000, opens on Friday 28 April at 7pm in Writers’ Square with an outstanding performance from Catalonian acrobatic company, Vol’e Temps. Paper Worlds is a tender, daring and disturbingly funny show bringing together dance and circus techniques whilst delivering stunning acrobatics, with dazzling dexterity and some serious theatrical illusion.
Over the course of the 3 days, audiences will be spoilt for choice with 5 shows taking place at any one time through until 6pm each day. Highlights include: Luis Brusca, has devoted his life to exploring the chaos and anarchy in the world around us. His research has led to the creation of a poetic & prize winning clown show looking at lost love and found friends on a sensational journey through life. The Flying Dutchmen for thirty years have been travelling the world on their unicycles, hurling flaming torches and punchlines at each other in pursuit of the ultimate trick. And Mat Ricardo, the Gentleman Juggler, is renowned for his engaging, stylish and relaxed approach to even the most fiendishly difficult of tricks. Then the action moves into St Anne’s Square with the Big Finish cabaret show. The growing walkabout programme sponsored by Beannchor means that you can expect bizarre sightings of belligerent ballroom dancers; marauding Morris Dancers and the shambolic St Joan’s Ambulance, who have caused more accidents than they have cured! All performances take place in Cornmarket, Cotton Court, Saint Anne’s Square and Writers’ Square and this year a new venue, Bank Square will come alive in conjunction with the Folktown Market.
Entertainment at the recent launch was provided by the glitzy, glamorous and highly competitive Raven Sisters, whose dance routine and hat swapping antics brought a new meaning to sibling rivalry! Sideboard Sideshow featuring Frankie Magilligan and Timmy Tweirdo were a silly and surreal blend of juggling, acrobatics and slapstick. It will also be worth keeping an eye out for the Travelling Obo, a mysterious, cute and unsettling little man who is searching for his mythical homeland! If these performers are anything to go by, the children, families and young and old of the city are in for an incredible weekend at the Festival of Fools 2017.
The Festival of Fools will open with Paper Worlds on Friday 28 April at 7pm in Writer’s Square and runs on Saturday from 11.30am – 7pm, Sunday 1pm – 7pm and Bank Holiday Monday from 12pm – 7pm.
Further information can be found at www.foolsfestival.com, facebook.com/foolsfestival and on Twitter @foolsfestival