Now in its fourth edition, IF: Milton Keynes International Festival has become an essential part of the UK’s cultural summer calendar. Produced by The Stables every two years, the Festival transforms the city centre and green spaces of Milton Keynes, creating unforgettable experiences for residents and visitors alike.
From 15 to 24 July, Festival-goers will enjoy ten extraordinary days of outdoor and large-scale performance, stand-up comedy, live music, family activities, intriguing free events and pop-ups. This year’s locations include centre:mk, South Willen Lake Park, Milton Keynes Central Station, the Theatre District, Xscape and a host of unexpected places in and around the city.
Monica Ferguson, Chief Executive of The Stables and Festival Director:
“The 2016 Festival is the biggest yet with a wide-ranging programme. Inspired by Milton Keynes, world class artists are creating adventurous new and bespoke projects, and more local people than ever before will be taking part. To enable this, the Festival works in a uniquely collaborative way with the business sector and partners across the city to embed the Festival in the city’s DNA whilst also encouraging Festival-goers to see a different side to Milton Keynes.”
Dr Ann Limb CBE DL, Chair of IF:
“The International Festival is central to Milton Keynes’ city-making agenda and long-term artistic and cultural ambitions, particularly this year as the city approaches its 50th anniversary in 2017. Engaging with more and more residents and visitors to the city with each edition and focusing a national and international spotlight on Milton Keynes, the Festival is great for businesses, tourism and our local economy.”
Festival programme highlights so far include:
VOALÀ: STATION (Spain/Argentina)
Friday 15 July: The Mini Bowl at South Willen Lake Park
Continuing IF’s tradition of truly spectacular opening events, this year’s Festival starts with a stunning aerial performance at dusk. Falling from the darkening sky are four suited and booted businessmen, distracted from their daily commute by mysterious women in party dresses while on the ground the company’s musicians play and sing live. A dramatic firework display follows this breathtaking ‘flying’ performance.
MIGUEL CHEVALIER - MAGIC CARPET (Mexico/France) UK premiere
with RAY LEE - SONIC MAGIC LAMPS (UK) Festival commission
Friday 15 to Sunday 24 July: Middleton Hall, centre:mk
Digital artist Miguel Chevalier is creating an extraordinary interactive carpet of light and colour for Middleton Hall at centre:mk - the first time his work has been shown in a retail environment. Reminiscent of a giant kaleidoscope, Magic Carpet is inspired by the geometric shapes associated with Milton Keynes’ iconic city-scape and other sources such as the tradition of embroidery, mosaics and patterns from the natural world. As part of the event, the Festival has commissioned sonic artist Ray Lee to create a new mobile sound work. People walking onto the carpet are given a silver sphere, a kind of ‘sonic magic lamp’. Each lamp makes its own unique sound, changing in reaction to the Magic Carpet projections, nearby spheres and the warmth of the carrier’s hands.
RIMINI PROTOKOLL - REMOTE MILTON KEYNES (Germany) UK premiere
Friday 15 - Sunday 24 July: City centre locations tbc
Berlin-based artists Rimini Protokoll bring their international phenomenon Remote X to the UK. Creating a ‘performance walk’ unique to Milton Keynes with a specially commissioned soundtrack and a storyline inspired by the city, they bring together people who have never met before. A voice in participants’ headphones gives instructions as they set off to explore and experience the city in an entirely new way.
ROSEMARY LEE - LIQUID GOLD IS THE AIR (UK) Festival commission
Friday 15 - Sunday 24 July: Queen’s Court, centre:mk
Commissioned by the Festival and The Stables, Liquid Gold Is The Air is an award-winning video installation created by choreographer Rosemary Lee with film-maker Roswitha Chesher. A triptych of screens show fleeting vignettes and distilled moments from Under The Vaulted Sky, the live outdoor performance which was one of the highlights of 2014’s Festival, featuring over 100 dancers including adults, young people and children from Milton Keynes. It will be presented in a pop-up ‘cathedral’ – a wooden garden room with a wild flower roof - within a landscaped setting in the Queen’s Court open-air courtyard in centre:mk.
RICHARD DEDOMENICI - SUPERMAN IV REDUX (UK) Festival commission
Filming Saturday 16/Sunday 17 July: City Centre
Screening Saturday 23/Sunday 24 July: Location tbc
Improbably, Milton Keynes stood in for New York for the filming of Superman IV: The Quest For Peace, starring Christopher Reeves and Gene Hackman, in 1986. 30 years later, live artist Richard DeDomenici brings The Redux Project, his series of witty and disruptive recreations of scenes from popular films, to Milton Keynes. Using local people, Richard will reshoot key scenes from Superman IV at their original locations including the iconic flying scenes in front of Milton Keynes Station which doubled as the United Nations building. The new footage will be screened alongside the original scenes in a pop-up gallery-cum-cinema setting.
STATION HOUSE OPERA - DOMINOES (UK)
Saturday 16 July: City centre locations
Dominoes takes as its starting point the simplest of ideas - a line of dominoes.
Thousands of white breezeblocks create a two kilometre moving sculpture which will thread through the streets, shopping centres, parks and landmark locations of Milton Keynes. Continually falling, occasionally disappearing then resurfacing, they counterpoint, complement and play with the architecture. Dominoes transforms the rhythm of the city for one special day, with hundreds of participants helping to set out the dominoes and audience members gathering together for this celebratory event. A specially commissioned film will capture the day for posterity.
THE WORLD PICNIC
Closing with Compagnie Artonik’s The Colour of Time
Sunday 24 July: Campbell Park
The Festival will come to a spectacular and colourful close with the World Picnic in Campbell Park. The annual community Festival will be enhanced with the support of International Festival artists and a spectacular finale event is being planned. The Colour of Time from Compagnie Artonik (France) is inspired by the traditional Holi festival celebrated in India each year. Red, pink, green and orange powder is thrown into the air in a spirit of joy, mutual acceptance and unity. In a rainbow eruption of colour, dance and live music, Artonik and local performers lead the crowds in choreographed Indian dance moves, parading from the park through the streets of Milton Keynes towards a huge finale.
Friday 15 - Sunday 24 July: Festival Central, South Willen Lake Park
A hit since its first outing in 2010, the glamorous Stables Spiegeltent is the beating heart of the Festival. This year’s packed programme provides the best in music, comedy and cabaret throughout the Festival’s ten days. Highlights include Australian circus ensemble Gravity & Other Myths’ A Simple Space, Irish singer Cara Dillon and her band, Comedy Club 4 Kids, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, a ceilidh with folk-rock band Blackbeard's Tea Party, Mark Watson’s latest stand-up show I’m Not Here, Afro Celt Sound System, two-tone band The Selecter with Pauline Black and Arthur ‘Gaps’ Hendrickson and Graeae’s Ian Dury-inspired show Reasons To Be Cheerful. With its own bar, The Stables Spiegeltent is a great setting for evening and late night entertainment.
THE STABLES SESSIONS: ACOUSTIC STAGE
Friday 15 - Sunday 24 July: Festival Central, South Willen Lake Park
The Stables Sessions are a chance to hear new sounds and spot emerging talent and unsigned bands throughout the Festival.
FAMILY FOCUS SERIES Includes a Festival commission
Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 July: Various locations
Family Focus celebrates the beginning of the summer holidays with a special programme of family-friendly shows and experiences for children and grown-ups. The series features shows by Catalan companies including Micro Shakespeare, Toc De Fusta with outdoor games and puzzles and the zany Always Drinking Marching Band, plus three shows from contemporary circus specialists Acrojou - The Wheel House, Frantic and a new performance commissioned by IF: Milton Keynes International Festival.