Watford Palace Theatre and Watford Borough Council have announced details of their annual outdoor celebration to ensure it is COVID safe but still full of fun.
It will be a little different from previous years, but will once again transform Watford outdoor spaces into places of wonder and excitement, with dance, comedy and art for all the family to enjoy for free this July.
Make some music with junk, and faces from clay, see exhilarating dance exhibitions, take away bespoke poems, hear live music and stories inside a whale, meet some bees and a clown, and see an aerialist in a giant red beating heart.
This year the festival will take place in Watford Fields, King George V Park, The Parade and Garston Park.
Elected Mayor of Watford, Peter Taylor, said “It’s great to have Imagine Watford back this year for its 10th anniversary. After it being cancelled last year I know there were many disappointed people in the town who will welcome it back with open arms. Imagine Watford is a fantastic collaboration involving Watford Council and many partners, supporting our local arts and culture.
“I am looking forward to welcoming people back into the town centre and can’t wait for people to experience the exciting things that are planned this year.”
Artistic Director Brigid Larmour said: “We’re delighted to be back this year with Imagine Watford, and can’t wait to entertain the town with our programme of fun, fantastic and totally free outdoor shows.
“Imagine Watford brings world-class acts to Watford, and is also a showcase for the ways that Watford Palace Theatre supports local creatives and freelancers in making new shows.
“We’ve taken the opportunity to do something a little different this very unusual year, with mini pop-up festivals around the town, across three weekends – there truly will be something for everyone to enjoy!
“As always, Imagine Watford is an ambitious event which couldn’t take place without our funders and supporters, and we’d like to thank Arts Council England, Watford Borough Council and Helen and Frank Neale for helping to make this free festival a success.”
Watford Palace Theatre inspires and entertains through inventive, ambitious, and inclusive drama, new plays, musicals, dance and family shows; free outdoor festivals; diverse stand-up; and a much-loved traditional pantomime.
It reflects its diverse communities, and fully represents women, both onstage and behind the scenes whilst celebrating and developing creativity and skill in the community and with young people.
The theatre’s locally produced shows and home-grown talent have toured nationally and internationally, been seen on BBC iPlayer, won awards and transferred to the West End.
Recent productions include Talking Heads; an all-female Gaslight; the UK’s first African-American Glass Menagerie; and Ayckbourn’s Absurd Person Singular.
World premieres include musicals Miss Meena & the Masala Queens and I Capture the Castle, and plays good dog by Arinze Kene, Poppy+George by Diane Samuels, Coming Up by Neil d’Souza, Jefferson’s Garden by Timberlake Wertenbaker, and Jumpers for Goalposts by Tom Wells, Creative Associates are central to WPT’s vision: they include Resident Partner Company Rifco Theatre Company, and tiata fahodzi.
MAKE & TAKE by Junk Music
The Junkman, Donald Knaack is a percussionist/composer, and environmentalist who uses original recycled materials to create cutting-edge music that transcends all styles and genres. Make and take away instruments to play at home, and explore music, music-making, movement, science, the environment, and how it’s all connected, during these innovative and engaging sessions.
Sat 3 July, Watford Fields, 12:15 – 14:15 and 15:45 – 17:00
STILL I RISE By Tribe
Raw and energetic dance combined with instinctual physicality, emotive movement and cinematic scenes. Pounding rhythms and a haunting cello drive the movement and creates an intense, stark world where hope dies last…falling down, gathering up, breathing, we let go, we claim back the space together… we rise. Inspiration drawn from the poem by Maya Angelou. It’s powerful and defiant words have an ability to resonate with many people, in many different situations or places in our lives, of struggle and rising up from it, which feels ever more appropriate in our current unsettled world.
Sat 3 July, Watford Fields, 12:00 – 12:20 and 15:15 – 15:35
CLOWN ABOUT TOWN By Hocus Pocus Theatre
Clown on the run! Wanted for a crime she didn’t commit! With mini-big top in tow, she dares to put on a show, but nothing goes to plan. Attempting to prove her innocence, she finds ultimate freedom learning to be herself, in a world trying to make her like everyone else. A sweet celebration of what it is to be human and a reminder that embracing our mistakes is the most liberating act of all.
Sat 3 July, Watford Fields, 14:00 – 14:30 and 16:30 – 17:00
LOVE ART By Dream Engine
An image which does what it says: Love Art Loveart is an air-filled fabric installation where fluctuations in the internal air pressure cause the structure to lift an aerialist into the air to perform a show to a soundtrack. We live in strange times and strange times need powerful creative statements to unify and remind us of what is possible. Loveart is a 12m high, vibrant red heart which frames an elegant aerial show in an image understood by all, an image that is irresistible. The fluctuations continue so the heart slowly starts to beat. This is a mixed media show combining sculptural form, music, use of location and a highly skilled performance element to create a spectacle greater than the sum of its parts.
Sat 3 July, Watford Fields, throughout the day
AUTOMATA By Festive Road
Festive Road is a specialist outdoor arts company. Through our fusion of art and engineering we’ve developed innovative techniques to create unique mechanical marvels. Our modern automata – Percy, Victor, and Wagner – are extraordinary interactive, mechanical sculptures. Made from old bicycles, cars parts, tools and household utensils, each one has its own distinctive character. By turning their handles, these quirky pieces come to life in their own distinctive and fun way.
Sat 3 July, Watford Fields, throughout the day
THE POETRY TAKEAWAY By The Poetry Takeaway
Our talented Poet Chefs provide personalised poetry for our guests, written performed and delivered free, all from our mobile Poetry Emporium, The Poetry Takeaway. We aim to make Poetry accessible, with our front of house quickly breaking down barriers, before a discussion takes place with one of our talented Poet Chefs. The process starts with an initial discussion, taking the order, gathering ingredients, we aim to complete the poem quickly, it is carefully crafted, written and performed, wrapped up and sent on its journey. We guarantee everything from tears, laughter and everything in between.
Sat 3 July, Watford Fields, throughout the day
Sat 10 July, King George V Park, 12:00 – 14:00 and 15:00 – 17:00
Sat 17 July Garston Park, 12:00 – 14:00 and 15:00 – 17:00
DAEMON OR DOPPELGANGER by Fools Paradise
Create your own doppelganger in this clay self-portrait workshop. Giving hours of fun, enjoyment, and relaxing creative activity to thousands of people of all ages and abilities. The free-rolling workshops provide a meditative moment or a spontaneously creative opportunity to get your hands dirty and enjoy the tactile experience of moulding terracotta clay. The project creates a record of any event and gives everyone a chance to surprise themselves with what they can do! Clay is so easy to work with and so expressive, that everyone can enjoy making something to represent themselves. The figures, faces and fantastic images made are exhibited during the event as inspiration to others, and as a memento of the day. They can be photographed and/or taken home after the event.
Sat 10 July, King George V Park, 11:30 – 13:30 and 14:30 – 16:30
Sat 17 July, Garston Park, 11:30 – 13:30 and 14:30 – 16:30
DON’T DRINK AND DANCE By Joli Vyann
Don’t Drink and Dance is back by popular demand! The show was created in 2012 through the Gi20 commission with Watch This Space and Stockton International Riverside Festival, where it won the Audience Prize. Don’t Drink and Dance is larger than life, comical and charming. The show focuses on a cute and quirky relationship. A boy-meets-girl-in-a-bar scenario with a twist, creating a playful yet impressive cocktail of technical skill, dance and storytelling.
Sat 10 July, King George V Park, 12:15 – 12:30 and 15:05 – 15:20
THE WEATHER MACHINE By Kate Flatt Projects
A playful outdoor work for young children and their families, where two witty characters make magic out of dance and weather – from the pitter patter of the lightest rain shower to the awesome howl of a storm, from footsteps in the snow to a joyful celebration of sunshine. Do the Weather Mechanicals control the weather or does the weather control them?
Sat 10 July, King George V Park, 13:10 – 13:30 and 15:25 – 15:45
JUNK JAM PLAY STATION By Junk Music
The Junkman, Donald Knaack is a percussionist/composer, and environmentalist who uses original recycled materials to create cutting-edge music that transcends all styles and genres. Jam with The Junkman, as he constructs a large Junk Music Play Station sound sculpture made from reused materials.
Ticketed (free) – book here: https://watfordpalacetheatre.co.uk/events/imagine-watford-junk-jam-play-station
Sat 10 and Sun 11 July, The Parade, 12-5pm
THE HAPPY PRINCE By Pack Pack Theatre
The Happy Prince has been commissioned by Watford Palace Theatre to be presented at their annual outdoor arts festival Imagine Watford. We will be creating a queer, family adaptation of this classic short story, using puppetry, storytelling and a folk-pop fusion of music and song. The show is aimed at 7–11-year-olds and their families. Following a period of R&D and public sharings at Imagine Watford 2021, we hope to tour the show in 2022.
Sat 17 July, Garston Park, 12:00 – 12:25 and 14:00 – 14:25 and 15:30 – 15:55
KNOT By Motionhouse
Knot sees two male dancers using extreme physicality, complex lifts and contact choreography, to explore the many facets of human relationships through physical expression. Twisting and turning, the balance shifts from one dancer to the other as they use their physicality to express their emotions. Inspired by Salvador Dali’s ‘Metamorphosis of Narcissus’, Knot asks questions about who we are; delving into our inner lives and our relationships with others.
Sat 17 July, Garston Park, 13:15 – 13:27 and 14:30 – 14:42 and 16:00 – 16:12
BORN TO PROTEST By Just Us Dance
Born to Protest dismantles presumptions about the black male and female figure based on intimidation, danger and isolation, revealing instead character traits around fragility, vulnerability and a constant battle to prove oneself.
Sat 17 July, Garston Park, 12:20 – 13:05 and 16:20 – 16:55
BEE CART by Pif Paf Theatre
Bee Guides Bombus and Borage have left the Hive with the Bee Cart – their mobile world of interaction and surreal but true information exploring all things Bees and Pollination. The Bee Cart is an exciting, accessible walkabout theatre piece for audiences of all ages. Commissioned by The British Science Association.
Sat 17 July, Garston Park, 11:30 – 12:15 and 13:35 – 14:20 and 14:50 – 15:35
THE WHALE By Circo Rum Baba
For 2021 Circo Rum Ba Ba have re-crafted ‘Plastic Ocean’ to offer a show that takes place in front of their 18 metre sperm whale. The audience gathers behind a lobster net fence that surrounds the Whale. The audience interacts with the eccentric marine biologist, Netty Northwest, who engages them with nautical repartee until the show begins. Audience members experience a beautiful, funny and interactive show which will highlight the impact plastic has on our environment through a series of fun learning and theatrical experiences.
Ticketed (free) – book here: https://watfordpalacetheatre.co.uk/events/imagine-watford-the-whale/
Sat 17 and Sun 18 July, The Parade, 12 – 5pm