he summer has only just started, but Newport has already enjoyed a host of community events and festivals throughout the city. In this blog, I’ll take a look back at The Big Splash 2018. The good, the bad and the downright bizarre.
The Big Splash is the biggest date on the Newport street art scene; each year the event grows, the organisation improves, and the acts get more unusual. This year didn’t disappoint.
The Riverfront remained the centre of festivities, with a full programme aimed at families and younger event goers. Pirate crafts awaited on the terrace, while inside more creative adventures could be found. Face paints, glitter face décor, balloon animals, cookie decorating, badge making; the list goes on and on.
The acts gracing the streets this year were varied, meaning there was something for everyone. One of the things I love about the Big Splash is the freedom to come and go, to explore and to relax amongst performances. It is a fantastic way to introduce young people to the joy of theatre, without any of the pressure of sitting still and being quiet.
Honour & Cherish brought an early spell of strangeness to proceedings. However, the mother and bride duo put in the hours as they could be seen exploring the Riverfront and river walkway regularly throughout the day.
Although some kids were left crying and running for their grownups, Babba Yagga’s House turned into a firm favourite with my children. The Fairly Fresh Fish Co.’s fascinating selection of ‘fresh fish’ also provided a memorable opportunity for younger audience members to get in on the action. Not to mention the magical storytelling from The Whale.
However, it wasn’t all about the kids! Charmaine Childs delivered a crowd-pleasing set, which led up to a grand finally of carrying the weight of two men in a makeshift harness. Equally impressive was Pete Anderson’s Unstable Acts; what more could you ask for than a man on a ladder, juggling knives? Did I mention the ladder wasn’t supported?
So, you may be getting the idea that I love the Big Splash, but what were the downsides? Well, the organisers were excellent as moving acts to different sites if there were technical difficulties. Great! However, last minute changes meant the potential to miss some great acts. I was gutted to miss the last performance from Barracwda because the Unicycling Unicorn was delayed.
The Unicycling Unicorn was one of the weaker performances from my perspective, however, Jamey Mossengren is an international performer, so maybe I missed the point with this one. I would have loved to see more from Citrus Arts’ Shipwrecked performance, however, the abstract portrayal wasn’t enough to maintain the interest of my younger audience members.
If I could improve the Big Splash I would have more wandering street performers, rather than tying them to one performance zone. I’d also bring in more local acts; the international performers are great to see, but I’d love to see more support for the amazing local talent we have right on our doorstep.
Overall, another great weekend for street theatre. I look forward to next time.