Monday, April 30, 2012

SunFest 2012 -Review- Customs House

SunFest 2012
Customs House 
30 April 2012

Tonight sees for the second consecutive year the students of Sunderland University, taking over the Customs House in South Shields.
The launch of Sunfest 2012 sees little snippets of work from the talented dance, drama and performing arts students. They will be strutting their stuff at the South Tyneside venue for the best part of a month.
Starting off with an introductory talk from Ray Spencer The Customs House Director in front of the select few, he explained how the collaboration between the University and the Customs House has grown stronger and stronger since this initiative, with this year hopefully eclipsing that of the last.
Guest of honour this year is Wendy Craig of BBC's Butterflies fame. She has close links with the University, and in her speech she took herself back to when she was a student, with the anticipation, nerves and just the total joy that she gained from working with similar teams. I am sure the Sunderland University students would have taken a lot of energy from her and honed this into their forthcoming performances.

On to the stage, the night started off with a little look into the mind of The Bard, with Shakespeare's King Lear. A very strong start with the King berating his daughters for their betrayal of him. This is one of the classic stories from the wordsmith that I am yet to fully endure, and on this fine performance it looks a sure fine winner from the Sunderland lot. The play and the story will be performed in full on Friday 11th May.
 With contemporary dance being high on the agenda it was the turn of the second and third year dance students to set the standards. Starting with solo's from the seconds, some super flawless movements with great dexterity thrilled the small crowd at The Customs House. The duets from the thirds came with some spine tingling cello music and in the style of dance practitioners Merce Cunningham and Wayne McGregor. These dancers have worked so hard, with perfect feet positions and total dedication, it is no wonder that with the talent of the lecturers,year after year these courses are full to bursting. These and original pieces from the students can be seen on 24th and 25th May in 'Come and join the dance'.
 Mother Courage and her Children by Bertolt Brecht was offered to us next, this play is a portray of the devastating effects of war on the ordinary people. A great cast that shows the talent of the students. Again I haven't seen this before, but it shows great promise. This can be seen on Friday 4th May.
Some great music in the style of Irish traditional folk, with some fantastic Finnish influences, stunned the crowd into complete silence. The guitar and keyboard work with the Irish brogue totally complimented each other.It was great to hear, and definately something that I would recommend. You can see/hear this and much more on 29th May.
Ray Spencer told us that this was going to be the finale, and what a finale it was. Third year Dance and Performing Arts students pulled off a grand and colourful ending to the show, with a sneak 10 minute preview of a 60 minute piece, full of flair, flailing arms and pin point accurate movements.This routine was themed around the Greek Olympics, with some spectacular synchronised swimming that had me searching for my water cap. it was so good that again I thoroughly recommend the performance of 'An evening of Jazz, Ballet and contemporary dance' on Monday 21st May.

Tonight was just a little taster of what you can expect from a month long invasion of talent. You can come along and see/hear from the likes of an Acoustic Showcase, music hall, a choir (Sunderland University Theatre Group) and controversial theatre study, to name but a few...oh and all time of the day too, so you have no excuse to have a look at the menu and choose your delight.
A great night of future up and coming talent. 

SunFest runs until Friday June 1st.

Michael Hunter

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