Last week saw the Urban Astronaut team venture back into Europe as we travelled to a festival in Olot, Spain. Following our successful trip to Bremen, Germany in 2018, we were thrilled to be invited to perform at another high-profile international festival. Sismograf is a festival celebrating all types of movement, be it dance, experimental, performance art or in our case physical theatre. Set in what be described as a quiet Catalonian town in the Spanish mountains, Olot’s beautiful market square, church steps and slim winding streets, housed all sorts of performances over the long weekend from half-naked wood-chopping women, a collection of dancers leaping and swaying around a man singing full vibrato in a steaming volcano, break dancing in, on and around a parkour set of metal fencing, three inflatable dancing hippos and of course, a flying astronaut!
Having toured Urban Astronaut for the past 4 years, performing it well over a hundred times throughout the UK and now parts of Europe, I am still amazed at its impact and the response we receive from the many audience members who choose to engage with the performers post show. Our performance in Olot was no different. In broken English, audiences gave thanks, pleaded with us to share the show’s message to more people and asked if we could pose for photos with them. Usually all the children fall in love with the character, Hope. The mums grab the astronaut to talk about the message and the dads grab the crew to talk about how the flying machine works…. Other than the British dads kicking the machine’s wheels and saying “nice bit of kit you got here” the Spanish audiences reacted in exactly the same way, other than their applause.
For 3 minutes we stood after performing the show… sweating in the midday Spanish sun. We had bowed and bowed again… we had even participated in some super awkward British head nodding and very the heavily accented “Gracias”, yet the clapping continued. We were very much in uncharted territory… but what a beautiful problem to have.
As the applause died down, I spoke slowly and clearly ‘Only when the last tree has fallen, the last river run dry, will man realise that he cannot live on money alone” … The applause once again started and continued for longer than anticipated…. A group of Brits, warmly welcomed in a European country?!... During the political upheaval of Br***t?
Maybe it was the recent protest in London by Extinction Rebellion, but it struck me, despite years of political wrangling, of borders being cemented and attempted divisions, this was a demonstration of what really matters in peoples lives at the moment; it’s not about where people are from but more where we are going to. Worries about the climate, air pollution, how humanity can work together towards a better future…. Surely there can be no better advert for the power and importance of the arts!
We can’t wait for our next international adventure to Prague later on in the year.
Thank you Olot, you were magical!