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What's the key to organising a micro-festival?

Posted on 01/06/2012
Jarrid Looney

With just days before the curtains open on the debut Play! Festival, we catch up with Stage Manager Jarrid Looney to find out just what it takes to organise a micro-festival.

Audiences visiting The Firestation Centre for Arts and Culture on Monday are in for a treat, as Royal Holloway, University of London takes over the venue for a multi-disciplinary, one day micro-festival of the performing arts, lectures and film.

It features a packed programme of events from a wide range of departments, including Drama, Music, Media Arts, Classics, English and History, managed by PhD student and Play! Stage Manager Jarrid Looney.

So, what is the secret to organising a successful event? “Saying 'no' and keeping a level head,” explains Jarrid. “The job of the event manager is to keep his cool, learn when to say 'no', and have foresight enough to fix any potential problems.”

Jarrid has been behind several successful events at Royal Holloway, including the recent Classics Day celebrations and several music drama and dance festivals. He admits: “The most challenging aspect of Play! is trying to balance the work of this event with my PhD, teaching, and another project which will be happening later in June called Sheffest.  If each of these things existed in isolation, my life would be a bit easier but then it may not be quite as exciting.”

Play! is not only intended to showcase the talent within the Faculty of Arts, it is aimed as a celebration that enables the audiences to become immersed in the productions. Organised in a partnership between Royal Holloway and The Firestation Centre for Arts and Culture, it offers behind a behind the scenes peek at some of its productions and, at times, will turn the tables on the audiences blurring the boundaries of conventional theatre and performance.

Jarrid explains that this was a conscious decision to involve visitors to The Firestation in the programme to offer a truly unique experience. “In the modern world, it is becoming harder and harder for arts to remain in isolation,” he says. “We are not passive people nowadays, and we expect to be given freedom of choice, or the illusion of freedom of choice, in shaping the world around us. We've seen the rise of 'choose-your-own-ending' books, the prominence of open-world video games, and even the selection of choice coming into our televisions which ultimately shape other media in terms of X-Factor. People want to experience art rather than to be in its presence and that is what we are offering in Play!”

The Play! line-up includes Live Documentary in the style of Andy Warhol – a documentary event in the style of Andy Warhol’s screen tests where Media Arts students will turn the tables on the audience offering them their 15-minutes of fame.

Play! will also feature the UK premier of Dreams and Memoryscapes for Flute, iPad and Birds – an experimental composition by celebrated composer Brian Lock and performed with Susan Milan (former Principal Flute of the Philharmonic Orchestra).

For the full line-up of events visit the Play! website


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