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Through the eyes of a volunteer

Eliott Sheppard gives us his account of the festival as a volunteer at Strike A Light, March 2015…

By Eliott Sheppard, Volunteer at Strike A Light Festival March 2015

At 10am on 21st March and opening its doors in King's Walk Centre was AFFIX, a new piece of research and development brought to Gloucester as a part of Strike

A Light, a theatre festival that is held in Gloucester twice a year which brings local and further wide talent to the city. The night before had Spitz and Co. return to the city with their brand new show, Glorilla after their incredible Gloriator last year.

Within minutes of opening its doors, AFFIX was packed with children and their parents all having fun. Produced by Sabrina Shirazi, the premise is simple; what could you create from 300 shapes, 30 vests, and 3 surfaces?
As a result from the days events, hundreds of inventions turns out to be the answer. From motorbikes to transformers, the possibilities were endless, and with help from velcro vests and strips, which could be placed anywhere from the hands, arms or legs. Anything from original to whacky was produced and as the day progressed and volunteers attracted the general audience throughout the centre with their own inventions, the shop never became quiet, as the children's imaginations ran wild. What was fascinating about this venture was that the parents of the children were so happy to get involved as well and it really felt like it gave the residents of Gloucester a moment to relax and have fun on a busy Saturday afternoon in the city.

Taking the Gloucester Guildhall stage by storm in the evening was Michael 'Mikey J' Asante and Kenrick 'H2O' Sandy, otherwise known as Blue Boy Entertainment, from London, with their incredible show, Touch which involved funny dance sketches and routines, but also brought together local youth dancers, who rehearsed with the boys only on two weekends previously, to the stage to show the talent. This once again felt like the community really pulled together just to show what the city had to offer, but also gave young aspiring dancers to have the opportunity perform onstage alongside world-class performers.

On Sunday 22nd March, I got the chance to see two inspiring and thought provoking shows, as well as to participate in a theatre-writing workshop.

The first show was State of Grace, by Reckless Kettle, which had an emotional story of the effects of dementia and centered round a daughter caring for her father, which was beautifully portrayed by a life size puppet. Though there were some really intriguing and serious issues, there was also a mix of heart warming moments which made the audience both smile and laugh, as we watched this endearing performance as the story unfolded in front of us.

The second show of the evening was the compelling one woman show, I Am Joan by Viv Gordon. Looking back at various Joan's, such as Jet, Collins, Arc and Rivers, the message behind the piece was about recovery from trauma in her life, using all of these Joans as an example of how strong these women were in their lives. It was a work in progress and the direction of the narrative and the immediate hook at the beginning was sustained the whole way through. You could see so much meaning between everything that was being displayed on stage and you could really find parts that could relate to your own lives.

23rd March - the final night - and Bucket Club drew the festival to a close with their innovative show Lorraine and Alan, based on the selkie myth. Updated to a current situation and format, this show felt fresh and engaging to young audiences and would be really useful to take into schools and further education. Full of laughs and electro-technology, the narrative was clean and clever and never had a down-beat moment. A truly inspiring show to end of a fantastic festival, bringing the whole of Gloucester together.