Thursday, 19 March 2015

Telegraph Hill Festival

A CAST of more than 270 people aged between four and 70 will be the stars of a production of Guys and Dolls.
The show will be part of this year's Telegraph Hill Festival and will feature amongst its local cast, youngsters from Edmund Waller Primary School and Haberdashers' Aske's Academy.
It is also the biggest production in the festival's 21-year history and will be performed in St Catherine's Church.
The show is based on the story and characters of Damon Runyon and features music and lyrics by Frank Loesser.
It is set in the city that never sleeps, New York, in the 1930s and has a love story bridging the diverse worlds of high-rolling hoodlums and high minded Mission folk.
“The musical is always one of the highlights of the festival and this year is no exception,” says Sanjit Chudha, one of the festival’s organisers.
“This is the biggest production we’ve ever done – and even bigger than some West End shows – and the cast and crew have worked so hard on it.
"What's so fantastic about it is that it involves so many local people - it's a proper community production.
“This year we chose Guys And Dolls - it's got a great story, a fantastic score and is guaranteed to get your feet tapping and put a smile on your face. We are all very excited about it.”
The show is one of the main highlights of the festival, which kicks off tomorrow.
For 16 days until Sunday, March 29 more than 120 events will take place across multiple venues - not bad for a small South London neighbourhood.
There is plenty of entertainment to choose from - interactive exhibits, classes, workshops, concerts, guided walks, mystery dining experiences, comedy gigs, talks, cabaret shows, mass musical jam sessions, yoga taster sessions, quiz nights and the ever popular open studios featuring a selection of local artists.
It has been organised and will be staged by a team of volunteers and performers who have donated their time and skills for free.
And this year people will be able to see and take part in more free events and activities.
"From a couple of stalls and a picnic in the local park 21 years ago, the festival now embraces more than 100 diverse events across the area," says Sanjit.
“The main theme this year is ‘participation’. There are a lot more events and activities that are participatory, a lot more opportunity for people to get stuck in which is great.”
As part of this year’s theme there will be a cake competition, a children’s art competition and a photographic exhibition.
“We want people to be involved so we have devised events that we feel people will want to take part in,” says Sanjit.
“With the popularity of Great British Bake Off we have a cake competition which I’m sure will be very popular. We are also very excited about the children’s art competition. We felt that art is getting sidelined in the curriculum and the creative element within children’s education is being downgraded.
"So we wanted to create an outlet for the next generation of future festival makers to create a piece of art. That’s going to be very exciting to see what they come up with.
“The photography exhibition is something I’m looking forward to. It’s a chance for everyone to take pictures of the area and then peg the photos on a washing line where people can see them.
"It will be interesting to see how people view the area.”
Although it’s a family festival there are some events for adults including the Cabaret Bites, a secret dining experience which combines good food and cabaret entertainment and the ever popular Quiz Night takes place at the Telegraph Hill Centre.
Comedy will also feature strongly with several Comedy Nights at the Telegraph Hill Centre where the star turns include Phil Nice and Lindsay Sharman and there will also be Festival Open Mic sessions throughout the festival.
For music lovers there is the Sonic Imperfections at St Catherine’s Church which consists of an evening of cutting edge experimental music which moves classical music into another dimension. It is normally performed at the Montague Arms but is coming up to the festival for a one-off session.
And for anyone who loves a shed, towards the end of the festival is Shedonism, an opportunity to go on a two-hour grand tour of the neighbourhood’s back garden bolt holes.
Children won’t feel left out either. The Secret Adventurers Club at the Telegraph Hill Playclub will see children making stick men to take on Festival missions and for pre-schoolers is a nature inspired Nature Bug event.
One of the most important aspects of the festival is that most of the events are free.
“We felt in this post recession time we wanted to make it as accessible as possible and open to as many as possible,” says Sanjit.
“So, at least half of the events and activities are free which is terrific. Even those which are ticketed are reasonably priced and represent great value for money.
“What’s really great is that you can learn to dance, have a go at a comedy open mic, take part in a tea dance, try your hand at life drawing or do some yoga,” says Sanjit.
“This really is a festival which has such a broad focus and we think there is something for everyone."

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