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Accidental Festival at the Roundhouse 2012

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by Sandra Lawson (subscribe)
To paraphrase Dorothy: 'There is no place like London.' I hope I can convince you of that here. Also check out my blog at damselwithadulcimer.wordpress.com and my theatre reviews at www.playstosee.com
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The website asks you 'What the AF is it?' and then proceeds to explain to the uninitiated. Accidental Festival is certainly no accident. It is produced by 21 second-year students from the Central School of Speech and Drama. These aren't wannabe actors, but young people from the Performance Arts course, and the festival is reflected in the diversity of their interests and experiences. Don't expect to visit the Roundhouse and sit quietly in a darkened auditorium whilst a classically trained actor declaims serious drama. You must come prepared to encounter experimental theatre, puppetry, contemporary dance, independent short films, music and improvised comedy. Some of the comedy acts have already appeared at the Edinburgh Festival, and other participants will be polishing up their acts prior to this year's Festival.

I chatted with Laura Macrae, the Deputy Executive Director, and several of her co-producers. They explained that this year's AF will be the seventh one so far. The students have an entirely free reign to organise everything, and they have been working on the Festival for the first two terms of this academic year, spending one and a half days a week to get everything as they want it. Since Easter they have been spending all their time working on AF.

The performers will be filling four performance spaces at the Roundhouse, including the stairs and outside foyers. Some of the events will require audience participation, some will be free and others will be ticketed. They believe that the events on the terrace will be suitable for primary school age children, otherwise all ages are welcome.

I was invited along to a rehearsal by Rubix Collective, who will be performing on the stairs and foyers. Sean, Justice and Dean performed spoken pieces to a background of Jembé drumming provided by Eric of Soundplay. These performances are very much part of what is going on in the UK today and reflects their preoccupations with our society. Eric also explained to me that Jembé originated in Malinka, close to Mali in Africa. Many modern musical rhythms are based on Malinka patterns dating back to the eleventh to thirteenth centuries. Rubix Collective are not just performance artists, they also provide poetry and drama workshops for young people.

Accidental Festival
Rubix Collective - Left to Right: Justice, Sean and Dean, with Eric at the Front with his Jembe


The enthusiasm of the performers and producers was extremely infectious. The students are incredibly passionate about their work and I'm sure they will enjoy the Accidental Festival as much as the visitors. They are certainly having fun at the moment.

You can view the entire AF programme on the website. Ticketed performances start as low as £3, you won't need a tent, and you most definitely won't need to struggle through fields of mud to watch the events. If you don't want to spend the weekend waving Union Jacks and toasting Her Majesty, why not head on down to Camden Town?

The Roundhouse is close to Chalk Farm tube station and can also be reached by London Overground at Kentish Town West. There are several local bus routes, running between Chalk Farm and Camden Town. Full details are available on the Roundhouse website. There is no car parking close to the venue, so public transport is your best option.

Here are a few more pictures to get you in the mood, all courtesy of the Accidental Festival website.

Accidental Festival
The Tootsie Rollers


Accidental Festival
Lights. Camera. Improvise.


Accidental Festival
Moon Play


Accidental Festival
Something's Gotta Give


Also see: Her Majesty The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Celebrations.
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Why? To enjoy an indoor festival that has been produced by students who are passionate about their craft.
When: 31 May - 3 June 2012
Where: The Roundhouse
Cost: Some events are free, the ticketed ones start at £3
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