The Unity Festival, created by Hijinx Theatre, is taking place between 21 – 30 June and will showcase and celebrate the best in inclusive, disability and learning-disability arts from Wales, the UK and around the world, promoting positive images of disability and social inclusion to audiences.
This, the fifth Unity Festival, will be the biggest since it began in 2008 and will be the largest inclusive festival in Wales and one of the main events of its kind in the UK. This year's festival promises something for everyone with a packed programme of performances and workshops including theatre, dance, comedy, cabaret, music and a dedicated Family Weekend (23 - 24 June).
Highlights of the line up for 2012 includes The Opening and The Closing by physical comedy specialists Spymonkey, UK comedian who featured on BBC TV Laurence Clark , Portuguese dance company Grupo Dançando Com a Diferença, and Seville based Danza Mobile with their flamenco performance depicting the life of a blind singer who finds solace in his art.
Australian award-winning Back to Back Theatre will perform Small Metal Objects in Cardiff's Queen Street. Their ground-breaking show will see unaware shoppers mingle with the learning disabled and non-disabled cast who will be heard by audiences via headsets. The last time Back to Back brought the show to a shopping centre (in Bristol in 2009) DAO reviewer Kate Cotton said she had "rarely seen such accidental and excellent comedy timing."
The festival will also feature a variety of workshops open to disabled and non-disabled participants, including a sign and mime workshop from aerialist and physical-theatre practitioner Ramesh Meyyappan.
Meyyappan will be performing his Unlimited commission Skewered Snails - described as a wonderfully dark story of a dysfunctional family brought to life by a dynamic ensemble cast. The prequel, Snails and Ketchup, based on Italo Calvino’s award-winning novel, Il Barone Rampante was recently reviewed on DAO by Paul F Cockburn.
There will also be a percussion workshop from Community Music Wales and a Waggle Dance session to compliment Tin Bath Theatre's sign-interpreted children's show, The Bee Detective.
Also from Spain there will be an exhibition of Juan Torre’s magnificent photographs of musicians, finished with a relief effect, enabling people with little or no sight the ability to 'see' the images through touch. Reach out and feel guitar strings, microphones and even arm hair in this groundbreaking exhibition.
Ben Pettitt Wade, Unity Festival Director, looks forward to this year’s festival events:
“I am delighted to be welcoming some of the best inclusive performance in the world to Cardiff for Unity 2012. Audiences will be able to enjoy acrobats from Marseille, flamenco from Seville, an innovative invisible drama played in Cardiff’s busiest shopping street and enter a giant bee hive in front of Wales Millennium Centre. Whatever happens you can be sure the place will be buzzing!”
Louise Miles-Crust, Artistic Programme Manager at Wales Millennium Centre says:
“We are thrilled to be working with Hijinx Theatre on the 2012 Unity Festival. The line-up is fantastic with such companies as Back to Back and Laurence Clark. The Centre will truly be alive during the week with workshops and performances in the Weston Studio and on the Glanfa stage and this year, outside the building too. You never know what you might come across during the week!”
Sherman Cymru Director, Chris Ricketts, adds:
“Back to Back Theatre is an inspirational company and we're thrilled to be working with the Unity Festival to present Small Metal Objects. It is a fantastic piece that I sat rapt through when I first saw it, enjoying tremendously both its simplicity and cleverness. I'm really looking forward to seeing it here in Cardiff.”
Nick Capaldi, Chief Executive Arts Council of Wales, said:
“We're delighted to be helping Hijinx Theatre to stage their unique Unity Festival, presenting art and performance created by people with and without disability working together as equals. The festival will offer new insights and new arts' experiences, showing imagination and creativity in all its many forms.”
Tickets for the Unity Festival are available from the ticket offices at Wales Millennium Centre 029 20636464 and (Back to Back) Sherman Cymru 02920646900 and are on sale from today.
More information is also available from www.wmc.org.uk/unity.