TakeOff Festival 2019: Guest Programmer, Tony Reekie, talks all things TakeOff
The first event I ever attended as a Festival Director for Imaginate was TakeOff Festival back in sepia tinted times. The first show I ever saw was Tir Na N’Og by Travelling Light. I made the mildly incorrect assumption that my job was going to be really easy if I kept on seeing brilliant work like this. The next few brought me back down to earth but what I remember above all was the intense discussions that took place. It taught me a few things. Most importantly, that what you like/don’t like isn’t, thank god, the same as the next person and also that this TakeOff thing is where serious, committed, passionate folk from all over England, and a bit beyond, got together to talk, argue, laugh and party like the world was possibly about to end.
Now that the world is possibly about to end it seems even more important that the stories we tell our brilliant, clever and increasingly active young people, match their needs, desires and concerns, and do it in a way that engages them, with hopefully a smile being raised along the way.
TakeOff Festival was always special to me. I had the enormous privilege to be able to see work and be part of a discussion happening all over the world. But TakeOff was my chance to meet the neighbours, and it has always been a festival that brought together an incredibly rich group and left you feeling like you’d made a real connection that would keep you going ‘till the next one.
And it was important because it was one of the very few children’s festivals in England. It still is. What made it unique was the delegate programme which brought a lot of folk from far and wide. It still does.
And, it’s a trendsetter. Festivals and events across Europe have caught up with its format: three days for delegates, lots of shows, space for chat and too many late nights. They all do it now.
Being asked to programme this festival is an honour and a privilege. To then work with the team at Hullabaloo made this privilege a deeper one. I’ve loved every moment of it and will continue to right up to five minutes before the first show when I’ll fully remember how mildly terrifying it all is.
I wasn’t given a theme, thank goodness. I struggle enough just trying to piece the jigsaw of a programme for children together in the first place. I hope there is enough variety, passion and ambition in the ideas that will bring something to all the audiences that come along. There’s theatre, dance, music, storytelling and a man making a cup of tea. There are stories of people, and birds, moving countries and dances with tigers and clouds.
There will be talk and there will be a desire that you are the ones doing most of that talking. About the shows, about yourselves and what makes you do what you do. And there will be socialising at any and every opportunity. Its TakeOff after all.
I hope you will enjoy some or most of the shows in whatever way you do. And if one is not for you, I hope the next one will be, maybe, your Tir Na N’Og.
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