• Watch This Space Festival

    Gandini Juggling, Smashed!

    Watch This Space is populist and disruptive. The longest running of the UK festivals, it uses its length (very nearly the entire summer season) and its central location (the pedestrian thoroughfare of London's South Bank) to smuggle the demanding, the cerebral and the weird in among its light entertainment. Much of the audience is coincidental, and one of the great pleasures of the festival is seeing oblivious tourists and cityworkers in among the diehards – usually happy, occasionally baffled, seldom bored.

    Running for so long, WTS is subject to the changing weather, and will at some point, with certainty, be lashed by rain and plagued with cancellations. August is generally the worst month, but there's an attitude of good-natured determination: festival staff swab the stage at the slightest let-off, timetables are reworked; if a company can't perform one year they often come back the next.

    In recent years the festival has begun with a series of week-long residencies which give companies studio space and the opportunity to invite in collaborators; all week they perform work from their repertoire while developing a new piece which is shown in inchoate form at the end of the residency. Another addition is the Square2 venue, a barriered and ticketed outdoor space for large-scale productions that demand greater attention or can be disrupted by a moving audience.

    « There's a funny thing going on out there at the moment which is about money – on the one hand the free work becomes more and more valuable to people for totally obvious reasons, and I think it's brilliant when I see parents working out how to keep their kids entertained over the summer and they're sitting here studying the brochure working out which festival to go to next. Greenwich and Docklands this day, National the next – brilliant. And it takes on a huge value – and I know that because if something goes on late or if there's a change in the programme I get the complaints of people saying But I paid my bus fare to come to you today. On the other side of that I am, like the whole of this organisation, bracing for cuts and for how we deal with those maintaining as best we can everything that we do. So my hunch would be it won't be 14 weeks next year, but the obvious thing would be to just keep the quality and make it shorter. »

    Angus MacKechnie, Watch This Space Producer (July 2010)
    full interview

  • Events Archive

    30/06/2010 to 04/07/2010
    National Theatre Square
    NoFit State Circus, Barricade
    21/06/2012 to 23/06/2012
    National Theatre, Southbank
    13/07/2010 to 18/07/2010
    National Theatre Square
    20/07/2010 to 25/07/2010
    National Theatre Square
    13/08/2010 to 14/08/2010
    National Theatre Square
  • Magazine

    By Gemma Banks on 23 September 2011 in Features

    'I think the show started off quite innocent, and that, even though it had dark undertones from the beginning, it got progressively darker and darker. I'd been sending them these e-mails about Clockwork Orange, and we'd had this discussion of whether it should be the boys spraying Doreen with paint. I liked the idea that I could put them in white boilersuits and it would be quite violent, but it wound up being the two girls that did the scene and it ended up, in a way, being quite beautiful as she got absolutely drenched in this black paint.'

    Gemma Banks on her work designing the costumes for Gandini Juggling's Blotched.

    By John Ellingsworth on 11 August 2011 in Reviews

    The company, eleven of them this time, thread through the crowd. Sean Gandini comes close and rustles past looking like a piñata, his voluminous, papery coat and trousers layered pink, purple, yellow and orange, with a turquoise band settled at the waist as the cummerbund of this evening's attire.

    By John Ellingsworth on 15 June 2011 in Features

    Sideshow spins the summer circus festivals in an editorial centrifuge to separate out the circus, with Greenwich + Docklands International Festival, Watch This Space, Hat Fair, Zircus Plus, Bristol Harbour Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe and more under scrutiny.

    By John Ellingsworth on 25 August 2010 in Interviews

    'I think the Pina Bausch thing ended up being stronger than we imagined—in my mind it was lightly inspired by Pina Bausch and it came out strong. I'd say it's only recently that her influence has come in. I'd say that maybe our early work was closer to our other hero, Merce Cunningham. Maybe NightClubs was a little bit more related to Merce's work and mathematics and complex space and all of that, and certainly all our early work was working with complex spatial arrangements. With Pina actually it's terrifying when you see her work because you just realise how much everyone's got out of it. Kontakthof and Café Müller are extraordinary and beautiful works. They hover at the back of your brain those pieces...'

    Sideshow talks to Sean Gandini about Smashed!, the commission piece from Gandini Juggling's 2010 Watch This Space residency, and a work of beautiful destruction and perversity.

    By John Ellingsworth on 16 August 2010 in Reviews

    A scandalised woman in front of me is reaching round to cover her son's eyes as Marilén Ribot, wearing a knotted corset of rope, struts back and forth to a disco beat.

    By John Ellingsworth on 20 July 2010 in Interviews

    Now in his sixth year programming the National Theatre's three-month, outdoor mega-festival Watch This Space, Angus MacKechnie talks to Sideshow about the WTS residencies, stretching the budget, and pulling in the Alan Bennett audience

    By John Ellingsworth on 4 September 2009 in Reviews

    A member of the audience is stepping over the guard rope and posing in front of the Colporteurs’ rig, a confused triple wire structure where the underbeams run slanted to the ground, hitting a pose while her friend takes a picture.

    By John Ellingsworth on 28 August 2009 in Reviews

    The damp cold and restless wind that blew through the open boards and wire fencing of Rojo’s miniature arena probably helped the performance as much as hindered it.

    By John Ellingsworth on 20 August 2009 in Reviews

    The wolves are very good. Otsoko is Gaitzerdi Teatro’s fire and circus remake of Little Red Riding Hood, and its first point of deviation from the original tale is to have a whole pack of wolves, these depicted by the snarling, loping cast, using crutches as forepaws and wearing muzzles and long dark coats with the spines picked out in lights.

    By John Ellingsworth on 19 July 2009 in Reviews

    Held in the Astroturf square outside the National Theatre where it was almost magically cursed by bad weather, I’m not sure how much of Watch This Space’s third week was either cancelled or abbreviated—but the days I was there the Gandinis (jugglers in residence) seemed like the perfect company to take the problems in their stride.