Volunteers help one of Birmingham’s biggest spectacles set sail…

This June, Birmingham Hippodrome is producing one of the biggest outdoor performances ever to be seen in Birmingham. Setting sail in Victoria Square, The Voyage will begin at 10pm from Thu 21 – Sun 24 June; the performance will see professional dancers and aerialists from Leamington Spa based dance company, Motionhouse and Australian physical theatre company, Legs on the Wall join a huge amateur choir, live musicians and more than 140 community performers on a magnificant ship bulit outside the iconic Town Hall building.

Only part of the huge ship in the NEC rehearsal space

Only part of the huge ship in the NEC rehearsal space

To make the huge production of The Voyage a reality – we need a vast team (or should that be a crew) of volunteers! Rosie Price, one of our committed volunteers, reports on her experiences of being involved in one of the largest cultural Olympiad projects of this special Olympic year…

There’s less than a month to go before The Voyage sets sail in Birmingham’s Victoria Square and rehearsals are well and truly underway here at the NEC. A huge ship occupies the back of one of the massive halls with an assortment of props and costumes visible in every direction. The music has been composed, routines choreographed and photographers, musicians and dancers are at the ready and practicing hard. Everything is in place. That said, there’s still plenty to be done both in preparation for and during  the event itself. It seems like a few extra hands could be helpful…this is where we come in – a small crew of volunteers who are ready to undertake a variety of different tasks to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible.

Aerialists rehearse a spectacular scene on the side of the ship

Aerialists rehearse a spectacular scene on the side of the ship

We first met last week at Birmingham Hippodrome where we were introduced to the project by Caroline Davis, our Volunteer Co-ordinator and Patrick Nolan, The Voyage’s Co-Artistic Director, over here all the way from Australia. We were given a brief history of where and how the concept originated and shown a sneak peek of how the performance should eventually look. A packet of biscuits later, we had our potential roles explained to us and the sheer variety and amount of jobs that need doing became clear. Finally, the evening was rounded off with an en-masse trip up to Victoria Square to watch a performance of Wings of Desire (part of the recent International Dance Festival Birmingham 2012)  and get to know each other a little better. 

 Everyone we met had different reasons for wanting to be involved with the project but are all equally excited by the prospect, and understandably so.  Aside from being part of both the London 2012 Olympic Festival and a huge arts spectacle, it provides an opportunity for people to explore different aspects of a unique large-scale production and enjoy themselves at the same time. It also means that we will have been involved from the very start of rehearsals and will get to see the production develop and come together into the final result. 

Dancers practice on the huge structure

Dancers practice on the huge structure

Managers, performers, creative team, crew,  designers and volunteers alike are all working hard to make the event as special as it promises to be, but until then, for all of us, it’s still very much all hands on deck (sorry, it just had to be done!)… signing people in, ensuring costume measurements are taken, directing people to rehearsals – it all has to be done to make the show a reality. On the night I will be assisting with the performance and helping get the rescue boats through the crowd (don’t panic – its all part of the story!) and gathering evalutation information. I’m really happy to be part of that and can’t wait for Birmingham to see this amazing spectacle!”

 You can see The Voyage outside Birmingham Town Hall in Victoria Square from 21 – 24 June. Don’t forget to pay a visit to our post-gallery exhibition in The Mailbox during July where the photos taken during The Voyage will be on display.

Take a look at some fantastic photo shoot and rehearsal shots in the gallery below…

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 To find out how you can be a part of this huge event by becoming a volunteer or sharing your story, visit  www.thevoyage.org.uk/get-involved 

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