Eclipse Ed Fest Picks: Wambui Hardcastle

My name is Wambui Hardcastle. I’m a young creative currently based in North East - creating mainly as a writer, performer, and maker.  I’m always up for a great challenge, and I’m forever curious. 

I’ve never been to the Edinburgh Fringe.

Speaking honestly, I simply didn’t have the money to.

But I knew of its importance. Understood parts of its history.

I’ve listened to tales of success as well as a fair share of horror stories from artists in passing. But still, I never managed to get there myself. I knew my situation and recognised that even glancing at a programme would be nonsensical. 

But perhaps this year, with the Fringe sharing online performances of some of its artists in attendance, it’s opening itself up a bit more at least for audience members like myself, who could find travelling to Edinburgh more troublesome than its worth, financially or for any other myriad of valid reasons. 

And while digital performance doesn’t have the same connection that live performance revels in (there’s simply no way of creating that audience-performer real-time feedback loop exactly, yet), I think it’s wrong to shout it down. It’s an art form unto itself.  

Its ability to share artists work further than ever before, and with even more people, is extraordinary. 

Providing that people know where to look. 

So with my slice of air time, I would like to direct you to potentially considering watching the following artists:

1. LUDALA Collection, Initiative.dfk

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In Spring 2020, I was lucky enough to be a part of Eclipse Theatre’s panel for The Eclipse Award as an early career panellist. All the applicants were immensely talented, and passion poured out of every single one of them. But I remember very clearly the excitement Initiative.dfk dragged out of me when I came across their application, and when I gushed about them with my fellow panellists. Even from just an application with some video links attached, I knew I wanted to see the world open up for them and bear witness to what they could do. However, not long after deciding Initiative.dfk would be the recipient of the award, the world went into lockdown, and for a while I was worried that they wouldn’t get their moment to shine on an international stage.

But now, Initiative.dfk are back to finally have their Edinburgh Fringe debut with LUDALA Collection. Initiative.dfk were supported by Albany and Tamasha theatre in the creation of LUDALA Collection.

LUDALA Collection will comprise of three films for audiences to watch, all celebrating Black love and joy (Ludala means ‘happiness’ in the Yakurr dialect of Cross River State in Nigeria, so it’s aptly titled). The short films are named Gele, Is Dat U Yh? and Endures.

Words can’t describe how elated I am to see this in the programming. 

When so much content around Black people profits from our trauma, it really is uplifting when work is commissioned showing just how beautiful our joy can be.

LUDALA Collection will be available to watch on-demand until 29 August. It’s bitesize, at an estimated 15 minute running time. Tickets are available at £8, and a Concession price of £5 is on offer to those who are students, unemployed, disabled, senior citizens or under 18. 

Book for LUDALA Collection >

Creatives involved in LUDALA Collection: Gele: DK FASH (Director, Movement, Writer); Wofai (Executive Producer, Writer); Elliot Banks & Harrison Dante (Cinematographer); Aunty (Performer); Sir Loui (Sound Designer); Emmanuel Imani (Sound Vocals); Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu (Creative Associate); Luke Wilson & Deanne Anderson (Creative Assistant). Endures: DK FASH (Director, Movement); Wofai (Executive Producer, Stylist); Josh Kinsella (Cinematographer); Paje Campbell, Shinice Davidson, Corey Mitchell, Jeremiah Olusola (Performers); Luke Wilson (Associate Choreographer); Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu (Creative Associate); Melina Martinez (Line Producer); Sir Loui (Sound Engineer/Mixer); Emmanuel Imani (Quote Vocals). Is Dat U Yh: DK FASH (Creator, Director, Writer, Movement Director, Sound Vocals); Wofai (Executive Producer, Stylist); LJ Edits & Cees Artz (Cinematographer); Luke Wilson (Assistant Choreographer); Paje Campbell, Vivi Diwantesa, Will Kelly, Corey Mitchell, Rush Campbell, Jeremiah Olusola (Performers); Sir Loui (Sound Designer); Evelyn Jombla, Bruce MOBA, Luke Wilson (Sound Vocals); Melina Martinez (Line Producer); Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu (Creative Associate); Cordell Hardware (Steadicam); Michele Bianchin (Sound Bommer); Michelle D’Costa (Stylist); Evelyn Jombla, Bruce Moba (Runners); Omar Mohamed (Creative Assistant). 

2. Grin and Wrapped Up In This, Mele Broomes

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My next choices are a double-whammy from Mele Broomes who is presenting two pieces this year, Grin and Wrapped Up In This. Mele Broomes is an artist, working in many disciplines ranging from directing to choreographing, to performing. Mele Broomes’ stories embrace the collective voice, while also drawing upon her ancestral heritage as a great source of sensory collaboration.

Grin
Grin in their own words is “a visceral performance of sound, visuals and choreography which subverts hyper-sexualised notions of African and Caribbean dance”. Again, this is another piece that has foundations in Black love, which I simply can’t get enough of. 

Creatives involved in Grin: Kemono L.Riot, Levent Nyembo & Divine Amy Tasinda (Dancers and Collaborators); Mele Broomes (Director and Choreographer); Daniel Hughes (Director of Photography); Patricia Panther (Music Composer); Zephyr Liddell (Costume Designer); Michaella Fee (Lighting Designer); Tiu Makkonen (Photographer). 

Wrapped Up In This
Wrapped Up In This provides a momentary pause to reflect, as a woman draws upon her ancestors to lead her through the next steps in her life. This help comes with the understanding that one day this woman will become an ancestor for future Black women to call upon in turn. Spoken-word, dance, and melody are the strings that bind this performance together as the woman ask herself the question at the centre of everything “Is This Who I Want To Be?".

Creatives involved in Wrapped Up In This: Mele Broomes (Director, Performer); Daniel Hughes (Director of Photography); Christian Noelle (Closing Video); MV Brown (Makeup); Collective Text; Sarya Wu, Emilia Beatriz(Captioning); Sabrina Henry (Costume Designer), Nwanneka Osammor, Sara Wild and Shaheeda Sinckler (Music Producers). 

Click to watch the glorious trailers to Grin and Wrapped Up In This.

Both performances are available to watch on-demand from Friday 6th August. They also are both 40 minutes in length. The tickets are £7. There are concession rates available at £4.  

Book for Grin >
Book for Wrapped Up In This >

3. Moya, Zip Zap Circus

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Founded in 1992, Zip Zap Circus is a South African professional and social circus. Based in Cape Town, where the vast majority of its residents live in Townships, Zip Zap Circus’ mission is to “ inspire and empower young people from all walks of life to pursue their destinies”. As a result, all of their outreach programmes in South Africa are free of charge. They also aim to use their skills to positively promote social cohesion.

Moya is Zip Zap Circus’ brand new show, performed and filmed by their newly formed professional performance company-with all of its members originally first working with Zip Zap Circus in various strands of their outreach programmes.

And for the new division of Zip Zap Circus, Moya represents a new chapter for the company. When live performance (the circus’ main source of income) was halted globally in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, ‘it’s their first-ever film - an acrobatic art film at that. The foundations that made Moya were laid during the Covid-19 pandemic after Zip Zap Circus like countless other companies lost a majority of the main income they would normally receive from live performance. Moya has served as a new chance for them to explore more artistic avenues. 

On-screen, this new ensemble will perform to music as they run through the landscapes they call home: marketplaces, sand dunes, to colourfully painted streets. It’s going to be a feast for the eyes. Currently, over 6,000 people have watched Moya from over 46 countries.

The story of Moya focuses on a young homeless child, curious about the circus. As the film progresses, we’ll see how he begins to thrive under the big top of circus life, with a new sense of belonging to a circus family that supports him to achieve his dreams.

Watch Zip Zap Circus’ colourful and stunning trailer.

Tickets are £8. Moya has a running time of 55 minutes.  

Book for Moya > 

Creatives involved in Moya: Jason Barnard, Phelelani Ndakrokra, Jacobus Claassen, Vuyani Lottering, Silumko Ndulula, Jade Palmer, Isobel Rossouw and Jemma-Rose Nelson (Performers); Adele Blank, Brin Schoellkopf, Samuel Renaud, Sabine van Rensburg, Christine Chapman, Trio Wise Fools and Brent Van Rensburg (Choreographers); Samuel Renaud (Acrobatic Coach); Mosuli Ntshonga and Sabine Van Rensburg (Lighting Designers) Christine Chapman, Portia Kewana and Belinda Weeber (Costume); Brin Schoellkopf and Nic Good (Fresh Air Crew).

 

I really do hope if you have the spare time, you check out even one of these gorgeous productions. Showing up for artists is still one of the best ways we can support them.

Either way, I know what I’ll be watching. And this is the year I can safely say that I’m finally going to the Fringe. No trains required. 

Eclipse Ed Fest Picks: Wambui Hardcastle