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All hands on deck for ‘Voyage’ success…

Posted by: Chris Brown on

The international partners behind one of London 2012 Festival’s biggest and most spectacular projects, The Voyage, have hailed the free event a huge success. A combined audience over three performances totalled nearly 15,000 people.

Produced by Birmingham Hippodrome, The Voyage was inspired by stories of migration and global travel with an enormous ship as the centrepiece of an extraordinary outdoor set built alongside the Town Hall in Birmingham’s Victoria Square.

Leamington-based Motionhouse, one of the UK’s leading dance companies and specialists in outdoor productions, and Australia’s renowned physical theatre company Legs On The Wall, performed for delighted crowds of all ages. A cast of over 200 included a brass band and choir.

Kevin Finnan, Artistic Director of Motionhouse said: To be able to bring such a wonderful team of collaborators together from around the world, and to have the opportunity to create such a spectacle on such a scale in our home region is something that makes me immensely proud.   It is something I and all members of Motionhouse will remember and cherish for a very long time. The response from the people of Birmingham and further afield took my breath away.”

Patrick Nolan, Artistic Director of Legs On The Wall added: “The generous and enthusiastic response Birmingham audiences gave the production was all we could wish for. Our aim was to give them an experience they would remember years from now and it feels like we achieved that.”

There was huge disappointment when the opening performance had to be abandoned due to poor weather.  However, vast numbers of eager supporters braved the elements on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday to enjoy the 60-minute piece incorporating live music, incredibly physical dance, plus daring aerial feats and high wire-walking performed on board the passenger liner designed by Simon Dormon.

The breathtaking film sequences by Spain’s Logela Multimedia, projected onto the ship and the Town Hall, further enhanced the impact of this unique storytelling experience.  The audience were encouraged to ‘become the sea’ as actors, dancers and musicians made their way through the crowd in some truly interactive and immersive passages.

Original music by Sophy Smith and Tim Dickinson was performed by the Town Hall Gospel Choir and students from Birmingham Conservatoire. Amateur performance groups drawn from across the region included participants from Birmingham Ormiston Academy, Stratford upon Avon College, Playbox Theatre, Solihull, Nova and Coventry Youth Dance Groups and the Motionhouse Adult dance group.

Stuart Griffiths, Executive Producer of The Voyage and Chief Executive of Birmingham Hippodrome, said: “This was one of the most ambitious cultural events ever to happen in a city centre, and the team that pulled it off worked wonders.  It was a fantastic cultural collaboration to open the London 2012 Festival.  Motionhouse’s Kevin Finnan and Legs On The Wall’s Patrick Nolan and their incredible companies created a truly inspiring celebration for the city of Birmingham, showcasing the amazing talent that the dance and theatre world has to offer.” 

The Voyage was funded by Arts Council England, Legacy Trust UK and supported by Dancing for the Games; in partnership with Town Hall Symphony Hall (Performances Birmingham Ltd), Birmingham City Council, Birmingham Conservatoire and the NEC Group.

Paul Kaynes, West Midlands Creative Programmer, London 2012, said: “We are delighted with the success of The Voyage, which formed a spectacular opening to the London 2012 Festival in Birmingham. This is just the start: there are many more amazing cultural events taking place this summer around the West Midlands, meaning that everyone has the chance to celebrate the Olympic and Paralympic Games on their own doorstep.”

The London 2012 Festival is a 12-week nationwide celebration bringing together leading artists from across the world with the very best from the UK running until 9 September 2012. It forms the finale of the Cultural Olympiad, the four year programme of arts and cultural events celebrating London 2012. In total, over 70 arts and cultural events will take place over the summer in the West Midlands as part of the London 2012 Festival and Cultural Olympiad.

Principal funders of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival are Arts Council England, Legacy Trust UK and the Olympic Lottery Distributor. BP and BT are Premier Partners of the Cultural Olympiad and the London 2012 Festival.