Jabberwocky Market, by Andrew Latimer, April 2015

Re-posted from http://andrewlatimer.co.uk
See the original post from 24 March 2015 at http://andrewlatimer.co.uk/2015/03/24/jabberwocky-market/

“Darlington’s biannual small-scale theatre festival amasses extra significance this month given the horrifying blaze which tore through parts of Battersea Arts Centre less than two weeks ago, one of Jabberwocky’s main partners. Many wonderful thoughts shared among artists and audiences have centred on the symbolism of a building: a site for people to come together and collaborate. But more durable than that, it’s just bricks and mortar. Rather, the memories and wisdom go beyond it and enrich our relationships and deepen common interests. This idea of things spilling out or destabilising fixed notions of where theatre happens is what also brings me to Jabberwocky.

The festival itself is four days long (26-29 Mar) but charity events, fundraising auctions, the Jabbervan and ongoing #creativecase conversations surround these dates. It happens across Darlington, in no single place, calling upon cafés, meeting houses and the street itself to act as settings. It conjures up the very sense of open space that venues indeed play a vital role in, but is conceptualised through and embedded in community arts, excellent theatre and professional development workshops. It’s a district where the practice of going to the theatre is more than an audience development opportunity but one in which year-round planning and events take place.

Bucket Club’s acclaimed lo-fi selkie story Lorraine and Alan, about a recent graduate who starts up an unusual marine relationship, is arguably the pick of the programmed theatre. This young company, already hoovering up awards en route, provide a live soundtrack to an ancient Scots myth, of picnics and poignancy, salt and sirens. It’s one that goes hand in hand with Alphabetti Theatre’s cryptically titled The Frights, written by playwright Louise Taylor, an astute but also terrifying investigation of the psychological effects captivity has on hostages. Alphabetti is another young company pioneering spaces and ensemble work, specifically in the North East, and the programming of these two companies champions their success with two very different pieces of theatre-making. Meanwhile, Spitz & Co’s Gloriator is a combat comedy piece in mock Roman style, as performers commence cardboard battle: a riff on the Gladiator film but as a platform to fuse slapstick and clowning into an exquisite physical theatre performance…”

“Refreshingly, the Jabberwocky Twitter page is filled with resources and retweets for artists involved in the festival but also those who are making work in the surrounding areas. As Luxi, Jabberwocky’s tireless leading delivery partner, produces two festivals per year, they are firmly embedded in the debates involving community arts, participation and theatre-going: how do these three things overlap? What narratives of each are played out at local, regional and national levels? The arrival of critics such as Maddy Costa and Stewart Pringle who have led workshops and wrote about the festival generates a more substantive map of the festival circuit in the UK, one which importantly blurs the borderlines between theatre, literature, science and children’s festivals across the country. Jabberwocky Market is that rare, rare thing: an inspiring site of work, play and adventure all at once.”