Family Festival 2023

June 20, 2023

On the occasion of the first anniversary of our launch, we invited the local community to join us in the beautiful countryside setting of the Barn Theatre and Museum to enjoy a feast of music, puppetry, nature, arts, crafts, and toys.

The line-up included Arbor the Tree by Smoking Apples (Part Man. Part Tree and 18 feet tall). The audience listened to Arbor's story of a tree pushed from his home and his fight to preserve his future. Set within the meadow at Rodgers farm, Arbor was visually stunning with some loveable puppet friends. "We especially loved the jolly fox'" Each child was given a packet of seeds to take home and the opportunity for a photo with Arbor.

Over in the Barn Theatre, The Enchanted Cinema hosted an audience to bring the magic of Lotte Reiniger's 1926 animation - The Adventures of Prince Achmed - to life, creating a soundtrack using hand-drums, and a 'cymbal relay' as well as a range of other sound effects. In the scene, two wizards battle it out by shape-shifting into all sorts of creatures (lions, snakes and vultures), which it was audience's job to impersonate.

In the Puppet Making Tent, guest puppeteer Kate Shearcroft and artist Georgia Sawers (of Arty Farty Malarky) oversaw the creation of some incredibly imaginative and creative puppets made from every day materials. Children were then invited to perform with their creations in the puppet booth.

Anyone who has been to us before will be familiar with the inspirational and charismatic 'Pete the Pond'. We welcomed pond-expert Pete back to introduce children to some of the wildlife found in our large pond, as well as his own collection of aquatic creepy crawlies and plants. He was once more accompanied by his trusty sidekick, Lottie the Parrot. Always a hit with audiences both young and old, Pete enthralled with facts and science.

In the Orchard, Rebecca Fifield of 'Out of the Bag Theatre' invited children Into the Space to play with an enticing mix of materials to experiment, investigate and imagine with! A wonderland was created, with children weaving their way through webs of string, building giant dens and creating imaginary stories out of mundane cardboard objects.

Our Music programme was curated by the very talented cellist, collaborator, and creative leader, Tara Franks (SoundsCreative Projects) who provided a myriad of world music from six very different but equally mesmerising acts.

Music curated by Tara Franks  featuring The Magic Lantern, The Lost Revellers, Saied Silbak, Ana Silvera, Let Drum Beat, and Balladeste

The Magic Lantern is the musical moniker of singer-songwriter and composer Jamie Doe, an artist blurring the boundaries between jazz and contemporary music. Born in Australia before moving to the UK at 12, his songs examine the limitless depth of human experience with devastating, joyous results.

Acclaimed British singer-songwriter Ana Silvera and Palestinian composer, oud virtuoso and singer Saied Silbak joined forces in 'Songs We Carry', a new collaboration exploring the common ground between their heritages – the emotive melancholy of Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) music and the rich Maqams and intricate melodies of Arabic song.  There was a very touching moment when several local refugee children attending the festival started singing along to Saied playing a song they knew in Arabic.

The finale to Saturday's music programme brought the house down. Lost Revellers are an original folk band whose music draws on influences of tango, Celtic and Eastern-European folk. Jazz and blues infused violin solos intertwined with soaring accordion melodies, infectious bass riffs and fiery percussion and drums to make a wild and unique fusion.  

Ana Silvera is an acclaimed English singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist whose alt-folk tunes are lyrical, intimate and emotive, works of lavish, vivid imagination. Ana’s latest studio album ‘The Fabulist’ was recorded with award-winning producer Gerry Diverand described as “riveting” (Bandcamp Editorial) and“extraordinary” (Folk Radio UK). The album title, meaning ‘teller of fables’, speaks to Ana’s love of storytelling, each song a vignette, a poignant snapshot in time that deftly weaves poetry and melody to sublime effect.

Let Drum Beat are a London-based band from diverse backgrounds - Brazilian, Scottish and Portuguese. Led by female percussionists, Let Drum Beat is an exploration of musical sisterhood and cross-cultural creativity. Their music is heavily influenced by Afro-Brazilian and Brazilian rhythms such as Maracatu, Congado Mineiro, Forró de Rabeca, Coco-de Roda, with original songs in Portuguese and indigenous Tupi-Guarani words.

Balladeste are a collaboration between Preetha Narayanan (Violin) and Tara Franks (cello). The string duo explore the versatility and sound potential of just two string instruments. With traces of contemporary minimalism, Indian classical and folk, the duo co-creates all original compositions that are vibrant and experimental yet melodic and filmic.

A festival isn't a festival without face painting, and we were thrilled that our friends at Wriggles & Giggles were able to join us on the terrace on both days.

See the film clip of our Family Festival here (🎥 Alice Denny and music by the Lost Revellers)

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Barn Theatre & Museum
Rodgers Farm
Stonestile Lane
East Sussex
TN35 4PH


Registered address:
2 London Road
St Leonards-on-Sea
East Sussex
TN37 6AE


© 2023 The Bright Foundation. Registered charity number: 1179452
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