b-side festival line-up includes London Gay Men’s Chorus

August 24, 2016

b-side, the leading multimedia arts festival in Dorset, has been announced its full programme for 2016, featuring some exciting events – including the world premiere of Shame Chorus, by international artist Jordan McKenzie.


Taking place across nine days from September 10-18 on the Isle of Portland, the festival brings the best in contemporary art to the South Coast.

One of the highlights will be Shame Chorus an uplifting musical performance devised in collaboration with international artist Jordan McKenzie, The London Gay Men’s Chorus, The Freud Museum and psychotherapist Susie Orbach.

The project addresses shame and sexuality in the gay community. Shame is a debilitating and disabling emotion that leads to depression and isolation and is borne in silence.

Susie Orbach with singers from the London Gay Men’s Chorus

Shame Chorus seeks to break this silence and isolation, using original testimonies from members of the chorus, Jordan McKenzie commissioned Dorset based Billy Bragg, Shane Cullinan, Jessica Curry, Leo Chadburn, Edmund Jolliffe, Steven Smith, David McAlmont, Conor Mitchell, Sarah Morrison, Verity Susman, Benjamin Till and Jack White to make twelve original compositions exploring shame that will be sung by London Gay Men’s Chorus.

This world premiere will be performed at well-known beauty spot West Weares, creating an outdoor experience that is sure to live long in the memory. Shame Chorus will also take over St George’s Church for a unique Sunday performance.

John Cooper Clark, otherwise known as ‘The Peoples’ Poet’, will be appearing at Weymonth Pavilion on Wednesday, September 14. The performance poet, who first shot to prominence in the 1970s but remains a British cultural icon, will join the festival with his trademark look and incisive material. JCC’s career has spanned cultures, audiences, art forms and continents, collaborating with the likes of The Arctic Monkeys and Plan B in recent years, he has also been involved in two global number one albums in the last two years.

Tom Marshman will take over the Conservative Club on Portland to invite audiences to pull up a sun-lounger for A Place in the Sun and enjoy an all-inclusive holiday experience with the complete package of seven deadly sins: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride around the glorious pool. Eat as much as you like, prejudice and xenophobia at every turn. Tom actively encourages audiences and participants to share their thoughts and experiences for his pieces and the results give very evocative authentic glimpses into everyday things.

Festival favourite Matthew Robins returns with what the Guardian describes as “charming, sometimes heartbreaking little stories that are delivered as adult shadow-puppet operas, comprising homemade cardboard figures and sets, and accompanied by a superb eight-piece band.”

This year’s story features Flyboy (he’s half-boy / half-fly) and his friend Mothboy, Evaporina (she can’t sit too close to the radiator), the sad story of the Wicker Cat, Walter Knitty (he’s made of wool), and many others, including some new songs written especially for this show.

Sadie Hennesey will create Boombox, based on her teenage diary written in 1982, whilst she was a student at Weymouth Tech (or rather whilst she was supposed to be, as her attendance record shows a somewhat dismal 42%). Boombox tells the story of Sadie’s turbulent and surprisingly brief teen love affair with Portland-based Andi. Andi’s sister had a Reliant Robin that the teenagers would sit in (partly to stop it blowing over!). The installation takes place in one of these classic cars and is accompanied by a soundtrack of music that the doomed lovers played on their ‘boomboxes’ in 1982. This piece has also inspired an unusual closing event on September 18 at 11.30am. A convoy of Reliant Robins, and other cars from the Reliant stable, will set off across the Causeway to the accompanying sounds of new wave hits from the early 1980’s.

Metropolis will bring b-side’s pop up cinema experience for 2016, teaming up with The Penn to create a unique opportunity to see Fritz Lang’s 1927 sci-fi epic and silent film classic. Metropolis will screen outdoors in the beautiful grounds of Pennsylvania Castle overlooking the sea, accompanied by a new soundtrack created especially for this one very special screening, played and mixed live.

A leading multimedia art festival, b-side’s ambitious programme has evolved through conversations between artists, residents and producers to create work that complements the island’s unique and endlessly-evolving history, geology and character.

This year’s diverse programme features exciting new commissions by artists Bridgette Ashton, Lee Berwick, Henny Burnett, Debbie Adele Cooper, Emma Critchley, Sadie Hennessy, Katarina Rose, Tim Spooner and Paul Wenham-Clarke. Underground military tunnels, submerged ship wrecks, climate change, tourism and Reliant Robins are just some of the ideas currently in production.

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