Inside Out Dorset 2016: Events to enjoy

PUBLISHED: 15:07 20 September 2016 | UPDATED: 15:07 20 September 2016

And Now create some surprises on the South Dorset Ridgeway (Photo by Nick Read)

And Now create some surprises on the South Dorset Ridgeway (Photo by Nick Read)


From a high-wire show to singing UFOs, see the county with new eyes when Inside Out Dorset embarks on an exciting performance adventure in the Wessex countryside this month

For 10 glorious days, Inside Out Dorset will transform some of our county’s loveliest landscapes with a range of unusual free art and performance events. This year’s locations include Hengistbury Head, Portland, Littlebredy, Weymouth, Poole and Gillingham. Inside Out Dorset is produced by Dorchester-based arts charity Activate Performing Arts. “Activate turns 25 this year,” says Activate Director Kate Wood. “What better way to celebrate this milestone than by bringing two of our favourite things together - art and the outdoors.”

Bill Gee, the Festival’s co-artistic director, agrees: “We have commissioned some extraordinary events for extraordinary places,” he says. “We really hope people will come and join us on our ten day performance adventure.”

Wayfaring on the South Dorset Ridgeway

Artists Mandy Dike and Ben Rigby – known as And Now - have a reputation for working with people, ideas, fire, fireworks, sound and light to create surprising, accessible and highly entertaining public experiences. Their installation Barrow was one the of stand-out hits of the 2014 festival. This year, they have been commissioned to create Wayfaring. Taking place on a hilltop near Littlebredy, an area rich with evidence of early human occupation including barrows and a probable hill fort, Wayfaring will explore the tensions and balances in the contemporary landscape – both physical and cultural. Each day from 17 September, audiences are invited to walk along ancient and modern pathways, take in views across the South Dorset Ridgeway, discover the unexpected and then contribute to the ever-growing installation. Wayfaring culminates on the evening of the autumn equinox (21 September) with a live performance. Movement, sound, smells and the transformative power of fire combine to create a once-off, never-to-be-forgotten, experience.

Singing UFO’s in Portland & Weymouth

The biennial Festival kicks off on 16 September in Portland with award-winning composer Ray Lee’s monumental sound installation, Chorus. Like UFOs landing at nightfall, kinetic sound and light sculptures – giant metal tripods with rotating arms fitted with loudspeakers - tower above the audience. As they spin, they sing out a hypnotic siren call to all those present. Red lights whirl like a swarm of fireflies producing mesmerising orbits of colour. After Portland, Chorus is on the seafront at Weymouth Pavilion on 17 and 18 September.

A Theatrical Seaside Finale in Poole

The Festival’s closing weekend sees Up in the Air, spectacular contemporary circus taking place against a backdrop of sea and sky at Harbourside (Baiter) Park in Poole on 24 September. The shows on offer include: Acrojou’s All At Sea, an atmospheric theatrical installation set in a boat which rows gently through the audience; The Bullzini Family’s fabulous high-wire show Equilibrius where a playful picture is painted on the skies and eight metres from terra firma fantastic feats of balance are performed with daredevil ease; Carré Curieux’s tender and thrilling Petit Frère, a juggling acrobatic clown duet with a touch of the Mad Scientist about it, a tribute to the spontaneity of childhood; Circus Geeks’ Project_Vee, classic street performance combined with unusual traditional circus inspired by a legendary Soviet circus act; and World Beaters’ Spark! where high-impact drumming and dynamic choreography gradually build in intensity culminating in a huge climax of light, sound, smoke and movement.

Hengistbury Headlines

A major Festival event for 2016 is Hengistbury Headlines, an installation and performance trail through the nature reserve at Hengistbury Head. Eight artists and companies have been commissioned to create work which is rooted in this important conservation site, a haven for wildlife, home to over 500 plant species and 300 types of birds. Over four days, from 22 to 25 September, visitors will be able to wander through the landscape of the nature reserve, including areas normally closed to the public, and discover these new artworks, many of which explore the effects of climate change and issues around migration. The works are: The Soaring Sky, a coastal walk through a sung performance of birdsong by Arbonauts; Remnant Ecologies, a sound installation by Jony Easterby, co-commissioned by the RSPB; Hides, two bird hides animated by Ferdinando Bradridge Byrne; Cloudscapes, a place to cloud gaze by Gobbledegook Theatre; Overture, a sound installation outside the former coastguard hut by Kate Paxman; Romantic Botanic, an eccentric promenade theatre piece from The Miraculous Theatre Company; You’re Getting Warmer, a digital treasure hunt-style adventure for 7 to 11-year-olds and their families from Pebble Gorge; and finally, Tree, a humorous and thought-provoking woodland dance work from Sweetshop Revolution.

On the nights of 22, 23 and 24 September, there will be a chance to take part in RSPB’s Big Wild Sleepout with campfire cooking, nocturnal adventures and a memorable dawn experience as sounds of the harbour, sea and wind combine with the song of migrant birds.

Circus Adventures in Gillingham

The Festival goes north on 18 September as international circus artists Le Cirque du Platzak bring their show Kermiz to Gillingham School. Le Cirque du Platzak is 12 young musicians and artists with different personalities and lifestyles – but a shared love of traditional circus, freak shows and folk music. Together they combine in a company which is known for creating a fantastic family-friendly atmosphere wherever it goes. Kermiz is a darkly-comic circus adventure for all the family with rousing eastern European folk music played live. Characters include a man with a fascination for lawnmowers and lettuce, a temperamental Italian aerialist fighting with a Spanish toreador and an acrobat obsessed with staplers!

Let’s go!

Inside Out Dorset runs from 16 to 25 September at locations across the county. For booking information call 01305 260954 or visit

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