Free Time

Key Feste 2016

On 3 – 4 September, Vivacity Arts is hosting a jam-packed family weekend of free entertainment in and around the Key Theatre. It’s a celebration of artistic talent with live music, dance and circus acts, puppets and storytelling, all family orientated and in a relaxed environment by the riverside. We talk to Vivacity Arts Development Officer and festival organiser Sheena Carman about what’s in store – and take a look at some of the weekend’s standout highlights

What is Key Feste all about?
It’s an inside, outside festival that’s taking place at the Key Theatre – some things inside, some wrapped around the outside of the venue. There will be performance, sculpture, music, dance, storytelling. It’s like a laboratory of lots of different creative ideas and for me brings to mind a fun palace, in that people of all ages can come and enjoy it.

What can we expect to see?
There’s some fantastic music from Eastern European folk band MuHa, circus acts including Stefano Di Renzo, an amazing slack rope performer, Kapow! by 2 Faced Dance, who are creating the inaugural Superhero Games and Southpaw’s dance-driven version of Faust, which is an incredible piece – literally explosive, and combining world-class break-dancing with Lindy Hop and Charleston. There are also the very funny Vegetable Nannies, performed by a company called Plunge Boom, who will be taking their act out amongst the crowds along with various other walkabout performers. Children can let their imaginations run riot with resident storyteller Paul Jackson, who will be weaving some tales, and they can also get creative in workshops making masks to go along with those stories. Amongst other things inside the theatre we’ll also have Change of Light, using Xbox to plot movements, which people can have a go at themselves. We’ve got some locally based artists getting involved throughout the weekend, as well. There will be lots happening!

And all the entertainment is free?
Yes! The theatre will be open and the idea is that all the studio spaces will have something in them so people can wander about and enjoy what they want, when they want. There’ll also be plenty of food and drink of course, and there are various games and activities happening outside that people can join in with or play together – or they can just relax, sit on the grass and watch and listen. What could be nicer than just sitting by the river, listening to music, watching some fantastic dance?

Key Feste highlights

Southpaw Dance Company – Faust 
In this re-imagining of Goethe’s Faust, drinking, gambling, and general debauchery make the Speakeasy a perfect place for a man to lose his soul, as we see when Faust is manipulated, to both comic and tragic effect, into a duel with the devil where his very soul hangs in the balance. Told through the intense physical and narrative dance style that Robby Graham and Southpaw Dance Company have become renowned for, Faust features a unique fusion of world-class breaking combined with Lindy Hop, Charleston, and swinging big band music of the roaring 20s that taps into the spirit of gangsters, bootleggers, gamblers, flappers, and hep cats of the time.

What the critics say
“Choreographer Robbie Graham takes the lead role Faust. His fluid movement is a joy to watch: it makes his dances of drunken debauchery as elegant as ballet. All on stage have an uncanny, gravity-defying poise, which allows them to balance on chairs ad juggle goblets of fire, uplifting their audience in a spectacle that is joyfully Mephistophelean” (Eve Stebbing, Daily Telegraph)

“…bringing the house down to the sound of jazz standards. The details of each movement – the tiny hand gestures in their flapper routine, the little shake of the head after a particularly vigorous bit of B-boying – gave dramatic richness to a breath-taking display.” (Sarah Crompton, Daily Telegraph.)

“The show is always a highlight of any festival and the workshops were fantastic as well” (Fuse Festival, Megan Donnolley, Festival Director) “Faust is a perfectly judged piece of dance which pulls audiences in and keeps them enthralled for the full exhilarating 40 minute show” (SO Festival, Lorna Fulton, Artistic Director) 

The Vegetable Nannies by Plunge Boom
The Vegetable Nannies are two everyday gardeners who’ve taken their young vegetables out of the ground for a day trip. So, if you see an old pram brimming with some beautiful bouncing baby vegetables, come over and say hello. No doubt the Nannies could use a hand in feeding and taking care of the little family that includes Beverly the cabbage, David the shy little marrow and many more. Plunge Boom specialise in imaginative and interactive street theatre for family audiences, which is playful, engaging and extremely hands-on. Audiences are actively invited to roll up their sleeves and get stuck into an inventive range of activities from whipping up cow pat cakes rocking a baby marrow off to sleep. Originally established in 2006 by actor and writer Ben Faulks (CBeebies Mr Bloom), today Plunge Boom thrives with its steadfast team of actors and artists delivering super high quality street theatre shows, participatory workshops, and outreach projects to events in the UK, Europe and beyond.

Classic and Vintage Vehicle Show
Taking place on the Embankment on the same weekend as Key Feste, 3-4 September, Peterborough’s Classic and Vintage Vehicle Show was established in 2014, attracting around 500 vehicles each year and more than 3,000 visitors. The show will feature classic and vintage cars, motorcycles, scooters, commercial vehicles, agricultural vehicles, buses, military vehicles and much more. Owners’ clubs including Jaguar, Triumph, Volkswagen, MG, Mini and Ford have previously exhibited and the variety of vehicles confirmed so far range from Ferraris and Rolls Royces to Morris Minors and Ford Anglias. Several classic fire engines, vintage caravans and trucks will also be in attendance. This fun family event is free and will also feature a host of shopping opportunities, hot food stalls and entertainment. Proceeds from the sale of the show’s programme will be split between charities Magpas Air Ambulance and Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund. Fiona Castle, the wife of former Record Breakers presenter Roy Castle, will be officially opening the event on Saturday.
The show is open to the public from 10.30 am on both Saturday and Sunday, vehicle owners can access the Embankment from 7am on both days but must be parked by 9.15am. ● Vehicle owners can register their pride and joy online on the city council’s website vehicle-show/ ● If you would like to run a trade/food concession stand at the event please email

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Or just Bolt Boy on his bike? The Moment talks to Tamsin Fitzgerald, Artistic Director of 2Faced Dance, about a crazy new street show in which three of the world’s greatest superheroes compete for the ultimate accolade…

What is Kapow all about?
Superheroes! It’s one of those things that everyone likes, whether you’re a small child or a grandparent – it’s inter-generational. And the piece has three superheroes competing in the Superhero Games to see who can fly the best, change the quickest, fight the best… That’s the premise, and within the piece – without wanting to give too much away – they also have to save the crown jewels. It’s a lot of fun – there’s comedy, dance, acrobatics, audience interaction, something for all different ages.

Who are your superheroes?
We’ve got Bolt Boy, who is really fast but is basically like Robin of Batman and Robin. There’s Mighty Man, who is 6’8″ tall and is the Superman type of character, then we also have The Glovernor, who is the baddie. He has a glove that has special powers and creates a force-field. They’re kind of based on the superhero characters who have always been there, rather than the more modern day versions. And there are some nods to the origin of Superman in there, and to Captain America, so it should cross over all different ages. But one of the things about having an all-male company is that at the end of the day they’re all lads, and I think every guy has that dream of being a superhero and having magic powers at some time in their lives, whether they’re four or forty!

How did Kapow come about?
It kind of started with us asking that question: ‘If you could have a superhero power what would it be?’ Then we talked about the different characters, the outfits, and how to play on that older comic book Batman and Robin kind of image – hence the name ‘KAPOW!’ We explored different superheroes and their powers, and how we could express that through dance. They have a flying competition, so we had to work out how we could create that illusion of them flying through the air. And quite a few of them wanted to be the bad guy! From there we added a few modern twists, some of which are quite silly. Bolt Boy has a bike, for example, and has to pass his cycling proficiency test. It’s a lot of fun. Kids adore it and always end up wanting to be one of the superheroes!

What’s the process for turning those original ideas into a show?
We had rehearsals here last year where we created the piece. During that we worked with a couple of other guest artists – a guy who does stage combat, creating realistic fighting scenes, and then we also worked with a commedia dell’arte expert, who works with traditional Italian street art using masks. So it was a whole mixture of different processes to get there. We played with lots of different props. I really wanted to have a scene that was a nod to Superman changing in the phone box, so we’ve included that in the competition – who can change the quickest. It’s the same process you would go through with any show – you have ideas, go to rehearsals, test them out, then play with the costumes and props. We also tested it out in different spaces with different audiences, at a primary school, at a comedy festival – we just wanted to have a trial to see what worked and what didn’t, and check that the things we thought were funny actually were funny. Then we went away, changed a few little bits and came up with the finished piece. So, it is a completely collaborative process – and the characters are probably based somewhat To find out more on the original dancers’ personalities!

To find out more  about Key Feste and other events, visit

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