A community delivering performance where you least expect it

Science buskers at Assemble Fest

Rich Sutherland author photoIn this blog post you can find out about Assemble Fest in Hull, a community theatre festival taking in place in shops and local businesses in Hull’s Newland Avenue. It was written by Rich Sutherland, Assemble Fest’s Marketing Manager.

Keep reading to find out how the festival uses theatre and art to bring the community together, and provides work experience and training to locals who need it.

We’re very excited in Hull right now, as Newland Avenue’s theatre festival returns on Saturday 23 May with five specially commissioned shows by some of the city’s top artistic talent!

Whilst performances take place inside businesses and on the street itself, visitors will also find a variety of non-ticketed activity such as buskers, face painting, live art, Punch and Judy, magicians and The Gold Man, Hull’s favourite living statue. Meanwhile, Newland Avenue’s Community Church will host The Hub Space, where people can learn a new skill in thirty minutes for free, from stilt walking to stage combat, and meet teams from Hull City Arts, Roots and Wings and Hull Truck Theatre.

Live art at Assemble Fest

making theatre accessible to everyone

The Assemble Fest team is dedicated to making the festival as accessible and engaging as possible for the entire community. It’s a showcase of theatre and the arts, a celebration of Newland, and an invitation to rediscover the avenue as a vibrant place presenting good food and independent traders. Unemployed HU5 residents are offered paid opportunities for the day as venue managers, with student volunteers from Hull University and Hull College assisting them; we believe that this helps to empower individuals and groups in equal measure. The festival invites the entire community to achieve a shared goal, and the amount of fun to be had and memories to be made is nothing short of awesome.

Who made the day possible?

Thanks to funding from Arts Council England, Hull City Council, Community First and KC, partnerships with Hull Truck Theatre and Hull University and support from the 2017 City of Culture team, we’re ready to put on a festival that everyone can enjoy. We also receive generous donations from local companies, such as Hull Trains (helping us to spread the word), Arco (optimising our health and safety measures) and independent retailer Concept Carpets (providing artificial grass to make the Punch and Judy shows super comfy). We’ve even been sent a 660-litre bin from, as one of the shows requires an unused wheelie as a prop. It’s fantastic to see so many people and businesses come together to make Assemble Fest a huge success, and we’re extremely grateful to every single one of them.

Music and performance at Assemble Fest

Bellow Theatre in rehearsals, image by Jerome Whittingham

How Assemble Fest encourages local talent

We’re also dedicated to helping the theatre companies to evolve and excel. Part of their commission includes specially organised skill-building workshops, and each company is twinned with an industry professional as a mentor, such as Alan Lane from Slung Low in Leeds and Hannah Kerr from Fuel in London. This is especially valuable as we feel that it allows theatre-makers from across the UK to become part of our local community, which is what Assemble Fest is all about.

Each performance is accessible and affordable, with individual tickets priced at £2.50 and full day tickets at £12 in advance. Added to this is a Happy Hour, which runs on a first come, first served pay-what-you-feel basis. The money raised from last year’s Happy Hour has been used to hire a professional graffiti artist to paint the shutters of a Newland business, helping to make the avenue even more visual and culturally diverse.

Wherever you live, we’d love for you to get involved in Assemble Fest this year. You can find out more about the shows here, and if you can’t make it to Hull on the day, find us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and audioBoom for photos, videos, recorded interviews, and performance where you least expect it.

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