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Review: Physical Fest Launch, 2017

Review: Physical Fest Launch
26th May 2017

Words by Moira Leonard
Images, courtesy of Physical Fest

Physical Fest: the 14th International Festival of Physical Theatre launched in Liverpool on Friday 26th May, heralding 9 days of performance and workshops from local, national and international artists across the City. It includes the bank holiday Street Theatre Day in Williamson Square on 29 May featuring Astronauts, Dragons and Werewomen, and a regular workshop series at Bluecoat.

The main events were scheduled to be at Unity Theatre, but the City of Liverpool College and Hope Street Theatre have stepped in at the last minute to accommodate the festival, while Unity’s refurbishment is completed (happily, Matthew Linley, the Chief Executive of the Unity Theatre, announced that Unity had reached ‘practical completion’ on 26th May 2017)

Meanwhile the festival opened with a charming short piece from Tmesis Training Company, ‘Day Dream Believers’, billed as a “psychedelic immersive experience inspired by the 1967 Summer of Love”. It was an homage to flower power 50 years ago whist holding a mirror up to contemporary political and ideological divisions.

Tmesis Training Company is a unique annual training and performance experience for aspiring physical theatre performers. They work with Tmesis Theatre for 5 days to create a physical piece for Physical Fest, alongside a trainee production team, supported by Unity Theatre. The result was a high-quality performance that will generate healthy discussion.

The soundtrack was perfect, alarmingly it was all music I remember from my youth: ‘This is the End’ by the Doors, ‘White Rabbit’ by Jefferson Airplane etc. and the performers matched: acoustic guitars; dream catchers; long hair; paisley prints; face paint; headbands; make love not war…

From the very start I was welcomed at the door by a beautiful, friendly young man dressed in flares and bright colours. “Welcome to San Francisco,” he drawls “please come in and join us, have a wonderful time.”

You entered through a dressing room where more beautiful people hand out garlands of flowers, oversized sunglasses, or wide brimmed hats – priming you to feel involved.

The performance space, set out like a hippy festival, transports you to another time, another place, where there is a loving, trippy, euphoria. It’s quite magical; the setting, the clothes; all on innocent looking young people who would have been around that age at the time of the summer of love. “You are so beautiful, I love your skin” one actor tells me.

The performers rally with: “Tune in, Turn On, drop out”; “put yourself in the vulnerable state of open mindedness”; “Stop the war”; “Think for yourself and question authority”. Does this all sound familiar? Have we learned anything? Is there an election coming up??

This is a wonderful half hour show that runs until 3rd June, do try and catch it if you can. I must say, if this is the standard of the trainees, I can’t wait to see the professional performances over the next few days.

Tmesis Training Company, Daydream Believers:
30 May, 2,3 June 6pm & 7pm
1 June 6.30pm

Information about the wide range of international performances in Physical Fest can be found on