Pink Fringe Picnic, Brighton Pride 2012

The Dip Your Toe bathing machines came out at the Pink Fringe Picnic for Brighton pride 2012. The six machines hosted and gave a backdrop to performances and activities taking place in New Steine Gardens on the Sunday of Pride. This super fun day out was part of a series of queer cultural events programmed by Pink Fringe alongside the Pride celebrations across the city.

The legendary Bette Bourne performed extracts from Tim Fountain’s play Resident Alien,  based on the life and writings of Quentin Crisp, which Bette starred in at the Bush Theatre and in the play’s subsequent sell-out tours. 

Artist and life-model Kate Shields gave picnic attenders the chance to draw (fully-clothed) models in her Regency Life Drawing class.

The Terrible Shaman, brainchild of Inconvenient Spoof roamed freely around their bathing machine home, and made friends with audiences and (fairly surprised) passers by.

Boogaloo Stu brought back his wonderful interactive craft performance, Puppet Paramour. Once again audiences had the chance to create their real or ideal life-partner in sock puppet form.

And with songs from Lorraine Bowen, Mariana Harlotta’s Perfect Pop-Opera, Timberlina’s Drag Up Your Molly Spoon and chances to get involved  in interactive performances all afternoon, everybody had a grand old time!

 

 

 

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Dip Your Toe Wins Latest Awards

Dip Your Toe Producer Faith Dodkins and Production Manager Greg Mickelborough

Last night’s Latest Awards ceremony saw Dip Your Toe pick up the awards for Most Groundbreaking Act and Star of The Festival. It’s been a fantastic month at Brighton Fringe and the Dip Your Toe bathing machines have clearly made a great impact.

The Nightingale, The Marlborough Theatre and Brighton Fringe were thrilled to receive the Latest Awards, and also to hear that Dip Your Toe has been given an Argus Angel Critics’ Choice Award.

the Nightingale Artistic Director Steven Brett would like to thank the team himself…

In no particular order – it takes a special person to have the idea, the mad idea…and then suggest it as not only feasible but uniquely apt for the ‘other’ project we were looking to respond to.  David Sheppeard of The Marlborough Theatre was that visionary.  The man who had the audacity to say ‘This is what we should do’.  Thank you David for starting us off on such an adventure.

Then the team assembled.  Trusted professionals who also saw the potential to create some real landmarks for Brighton – Firstly, and most closely Kate Gowar, my friend and mind reader, as the ever positive and practical mind who saw precisely how to make it happen and who else we needed; Janine Fletcher who jumped up and dived in; our partners at Brighton Fringe who stepped out of a tradition and supported a single project (mind you, who wouldn’t!); Faith Dodkins who has been a picture of efficiency and calm in a storm of activity; Greg Mickelborough who has already erected 14 bathing machines in eight different sites before we have properly started and is still enthusiastic; Liberty Martin who has lead, with a tireless smile and enthusiasm, on keeping us all informed of what has been happening where and how (and got me to blog!); Paul Farringdon who gave us a memorable logo and web; Alice Booth, Craig Mathewson and Lesley Wood who have strived to find our extra funding; and Eddie Crowther and his team who built our precious babies with vigour and no little bemusement.  And that is just the producing team!

Audiences enjoy Boogaloo Stu’s bathing machine on Madeira Drive

The real accolades, though, will, and should, go to all the artists and their creative teams who have had the vision to take an off the wall idea and make something really special to inhabit each bathing machine.  To make it truly their own.  To live with their own ideas.  To battle with those ideas, because performing art is not always a stroll through the theatrical park, and come out the other end with works which have become part of their machines.

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So far in the Dip Your Toe journey

Over the past few weeks, you may have spotted around Brighton centre and along the shore, the resurrection of several Victorian-style bathing machines. No, your eyes have not deceived you; these six replica bathing machines are the creation of the Nightingale, working with The Malborough Theatre and Brighton Fringe, to celebrate the maiden voyage of Lone Twin’s The Boat Project

Positioned in key spots around the city, including Brighton train station, the West Pier, and Churchill Square, these spectacular machines have been the platform from which a variety of South East artists have been commissioned to develop new ideas. Performances happen both within the bathing machines, and around them, ensuring a different experience with each encounter. Each weekend in May will see the bathing machines come alive, buzzing with creative activities, from a piece worked around a working camera obscura, to the revealing of memories you may (or may not!) have had, each bathing machine has been interpreted and utilised in such different ways. Dip Your Toe has already had two very successful weekends of street performance, and still have another two to come.

Reviewed by Alice Jones of The Independent as “by far the most exciting commission of the festival” (read the four star Independent review here), the Dip Your Toe programme has so far been met by glowing responses.

Puppet maestro Boogaloo Stu’s whimsical piece, which involves describing your ideal lover, was given a **** rating by Latest7

A Small Museum of Displaced Sea, reviewed as “a particular gem” of the Dip Your Toe programme is a miniature musuem with collected memories of the coast inside.

Based on the concept that theatre can happen anywhere, Dip Your Toe takes full advantage of this and provides a treat for the audience. With a mix of free and ticketed events, Dip Your Toe is a must-see for any budget.

Having acted a steward for several of the bathing machines, I’ve seen the reactions of the visitors to the machines. Vivascope is consistently well received and delights the intimate audience of 5 with each reveal of the camera obscura. 

Located outside Brighton Station, Swimming in the Persian Sea is a piece based around the stories of local Iranian women, and artist Philippa Vafadari tells tales from bathing in burkinis to exile in Brighton, and is quoted to be “well worth dipping in to”.

Artistic director of the Nightingale, Steven Brett, said: “It’s a producer’s dream when a project becomes so much more than you imagined it could be when you first embarked on the journey, and with all the fantastic people involved, Dip Your Toe is doing just that.”

All six of the beautiful machines will be out and about this weekend, and will all meet together on Madeira Drive to wave goodbye the the Lone Twin Boat on the last weekend of May. The weather is due to be clear and dry this weekend (fingers crossed!), so no excuse not to pay the bathing machines a visit!

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witnesstoexperience

Continuing my thought process from the other day regarding how the space of the fringe is defined, I’m now thinking what happens when this space is home? How does the fringe setting up camp alter the way you perceive – or exist in – the place you live? Does it have any effect at all, or can the fringe just pass you by?

I’ve lived in the same city as Brighton Fringe for four years and yet it wasn’t until this year that I’ve really gotten stuck into it. And yes obviously this has a lot to do with the fact that I’m putting on a show this year, but does it also mean you need some sort of special participant’s key to truly unlock the world of the festival?

It’s true that this year I’ve certainly felt the buzz of excitement a lot more, and I also think this…

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Vivascope is on the beach!

Vivascope arrives at the West Pier

We’ve written a bit about our experiences of getting it this far on the Vivascope blog
– Seth & Zoe

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Dip Your Toe -what a journey

I can hardly  believe that in just 10 days there will be six beautiful bathing machines dotted around Brighton bringing to life a dream, an idea, an ideal started just over a year ago.  There will be time to digest how the whole project works, but for the moment I would like to gasp deeply and acknowledge the journey so far and especially those who have contributed so, so much.

For my part, it is one thing to have an idea – it is quite another to harness the talents of so many in order to make that a reality.  There are so many talented people working tirelessly and generously, to make six wooden sheds on wheels splendidly magical experiences.

In no particular order – it takes a special person to have the idea, the mad idea…and then suggest it as not only feasible but uniquely apt for the ‘other’ project we were looking to respond to.  David Sheppeard was that visionary.  The man who had the audacity to say ‘This is what we should do’.  Thank you David for starting us off on such an adventure.

Then the team assembled.  Trusted professionals who also saw the potential to create some real landmarks for Brighton – Firstly, and most closely Kate Gowar, my friend and mind reader, as the ever positive and practical mind who saw precisely how to make it happen and who else we needed; Janine Fletcher who jumped up and dived in; our partners at Brighton Fringe who stepped out of a tradition and supported a singel project (mind you, who wouldn’t!); Faith Dodkins who has been a picture of efficiency and calm when all around her…well you know how it goes!; Greg Mickelborough who has already erected 14 bathing machines in eight different sites before we have properly started and is still enthusiastic; Liberty Martin who has lead, with a tireless smile and enthusiasm, on keeping us all informed of what has been happening where and how (and got me to blog!); Paul Farringdon who gave us a memorable logo and web; Alice Booth, Craig Mathewson and Lesley Wood who have strived to find our extra funding; and Eddie Crowther and his team who built our precious babies with vigour and no little bemusement.  And that is just the producing team!

The real accolades, though, will, and should, go to all the artists and their creative teams who have had the vision to take an off the wall idea and make something really special to inhabit each bathing machine.  To make it truly their own.  To live with their own ideas.  To battle with those ideas, because performing art is not always a stroll through the theatrical park, and come out the other end with works which have become part of their machines.

I am so excited to see them all adorning the streets of Brighton.  Each a world to discover be that for five, ten, 20 or 60 minutes.  I am so proud, too, of all the above and so many more who have boldly gone where angels feared to tread and create (and indeed recreate) a little bit of Brighton history.

From the sea – an inspiration and beautiful small world reality.

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Strandline – the giant kaleidoscope cometh

We have been beavering away and now am in the final stages of putting our giant kaleidoscope together.

Although its been pretty cold in St Marks church we worked up a sweat putting the kaleidoscope together over 3m squared of glass and wood. That’s a lot of bad luck and a lot of swearing if they smashed but less speed more haste was the name of the game for its construction. Fingers crossed that it will be ok in the real set up for the 5th May.

Set up and ready to go, the kaleidoscope looks the business and we were squealing with joy on how beautiful it all looks.

So, final edit to be done, soundtrack to be added, blacks to be sewn and attached, then breathe!!

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Kissing the Gunner’s Daughter / Salty Sea Dogs Parade

 

Here are some pics of the St Lukes Salty Sea Dogs Parade, part of Grist to the Mill’s Kissing the Gunner’s Daughter commissioned for Dip your Toe.

A passing parent’s comment made my day: ‘Is that an original Edwardian bathing machine? Are you going to renovate it for the Brighton Festival?’
Ho ho! The machine was freshly back from a transformation in paint and barnacles from Paul Harrison, brief to make the machine look like it had just been dragged from the sea. Mission accomplished! Nice one Paul.

The sun shone, the children paraded beautifully and peeped magnificently. Its quite creepy inside the machine with all those little eyes spying in!

The children also made wonderful cardboard peep-boxes which will be on display in the back of the Fishing Museum during week-end in May.

More children’s work at Kissing the Gunner’s Daughter blog

More about Grist to the Mill

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In the Workshop

Here are some pictures of the first bathing machine mid-build, while it was still all bare in the workshop. From a working camera obscura to A Small Museum of Displaced Sea, each of the six bathing machines will be customised for a new performance.

If a bathing machine can be described as a beach hut on wheels, then this is the hut part…

And these are the wheel parts…

This beautiful specimen was unveiled at the launch of the Brighton Fringe programme, with a fresh coat of paint and a preview performance of Puppet Paramour from the inimitable Boogaloo Stu.

Now, just to make five more like this one…

 

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Small-Scale Venues For A Large-Scale Theatre Event

Dip Your Toe is a large-scale arts event, produced by the Nightingale with Brighton Fringe and The Marlborough Theatre, to take place in the streets of Brighton to celebrate the Maiden Voyage of Lone Twin’s The Boat Project. This spectacular event will see the creation of six bespoke Victorian-style bathing machines, which will act as intimate new Brighton Fringe venues, in prime locations across the city in May 2012.

Throughout May, all six bathing machines will appear at iconic Brighton landmarks from the West Pier to Madeira Drive. Each bathing machine will be the inspiration and the venue for a series of specially commissioned performances by South East artists. These fascinating replicas will be brought to life as beautifully customised, mobile mini-theatres to house performances every weekend during Brighton Fringe. In addition to their own performances, the artists involved in Dip Your Toe will be working closely with local community groups and schools in Brighton and Hove to develop new works in and around these unique theatre spaces.

The events in Dip Your Toe will form a multi-faceted, interactive performance trail. Audiences can step inside a working camera obscura, and view live performance in the streets outside, with Vivascope from Seth Kriebel and Zoe Bouras, or peep through the walls of a bathing machine to glimpse a mysterious world of shadows, dragged from the depths of the sea, with Kissing The Gunner’s Daughter from Grist To The Mill.

With Swimming in The Persian Gulf, Bandbazi will create an exotic antechamber where you can borrow a human book and learn about the freedom of swimming, as they explore the woman’s view from East and West. Karavan Ensemble’s roving installation A small museum of displaced sea will form a miniature museum of the remembered ocean as they work with older people from the South East to collect memories of the coast.

Boogaloo Stu gets up close and personal with his audience, in his Puppet Paramour and Sock-Puppet Side Show, inviting them into his bathing machine for a one-to-one craft session, where he will make each individual a sock puppet in the image of their real or ideal life-partner.

The sixth bathing machine will host a range of performances from various award winning artists and companies: Strandline – a giant kaleidoscope from Avis Cockbill and David Parker; Green and Pleasant Land – an epic adventure fusing live music and physical story-telling for children aged 10 and upwards from fanSHEN; the Department of Unreliable Memoires from Rachel Blackman and Emma Kilbey of Stillpoint; and a bewitching piece from Matt Rudkin of Inconvenient Spoof, The Terrible Shaman.

the Nightingale’s Artistic Director Steven Brett says: “These new bathing machines will be beautiful to look at, fun and stimulating to experience, all whilst resurrecting almost extinct structures that were once a staple of Brighton beach life. I believe in giving artists free rein and DYT is a perfect vehicle for artists to take the spark of an idea and create something truly unique inspired by these little venues and their remarkable history. It’s a producer’s dream when a project becomes so much more than you imagined it could be when you first embarked on the journey, and with all the fantastic people involved, Dip Your Toe is shaping up to do just that.”

the Nightingale

the Nightingale believes that theatre can happen anywhere. the Nightingale opens its entire premises to artists and audiences and is a treasured resource for development and residencies. The work of The Nightingale also extends beyond our walls, as we produce off-site projects that bring artists to the streets of Brighton in surprising and engaging ways. www.nightingaletheatre.co.uk

Brighton Fringe

Brighton Fringe is the third largest open-access multi-art form fringe festival in the world, and what makes it exceptional is that it is set in a city with a unique heritage that has set the pace, diversity, creativity and innovative thinking in the city and beyond. www.brightonfringe.org

The Boat Project

Dip Your Toe is a large-scale arts event, produced by the Nightingale with Brighton Fringe and The Marlborough Theatre, to take place in the streets of Brighton to celebrate the Maiden Voyage of Lone Twin’s The Boat Project. The Boat Project is a living archive; an extraordinary 30ft sea‐faring yacht made out of wooden objects donated by British individuals and communities. The yacht will make its maiden voyage in May, as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad and be met with celebratory arts events at every port where it rests. The first port of call for the Lone Twin Boat will be Brighton Marina between the 19th and the 27th of May. www.theboatproject.com

What is a bathing machine?

A bathing machine can be described as a beach hut on wheels. An 18th Century invention to protect the modesty of bathers, the bathing machine became a familiar feature of the British seaside for almost two hundred years. The replica bathing machines have been designed with input from the UK’s leading expert on beach huts and bathing machines Kathryn Ferry, who is contributing her expertise to the project through talks with the artists and schools involved with Dip Your Toe. www.kathrynferry.co.uk

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