On Saturday 21 October, the streets of Milton Keynes will be lit up by Feast of Fire, the final official event for MK50, the year-long 50th birthday celebrations for this progressive city, founded in 1967.
Commissioned by City Club and produced by IF: Milton Keynes International Festival, Feast of Fire has been created by world renowned, outdoor arts experts Walk the Plank from their original idea. Inspired by Milton Keynes’ planner and architect Derek Walker’s idea to ‘lose the city in a recreated forest’, Walk the Plank has grown artworks out of the very fabric of the city, its boulevards, car parks and underpasses. Their creative team and pyrotechnic wizards have worked with international and Milton Keynes-based artists, young people and volunteers to transform the heart of Milton Keynes.
Feast of Fire takes place in the middle of Diwali – the Hindu Festival of Lights – and opens with the beautiful Spellbound, a large-scale family show inspired by the ancient Indian epic, The Ramayana. The story of the soon-to-be King Rama and his Queen Sita is one of love, jealousy, betrayal and daring. Walk the Plank tell it through shadow theatre – a modern take on shadow play – puppetry, fabulous masked characters and Indian dancers performing traditional bharata natyam dance. The performance is punctuated with fire, colour and special effects throughout.
Then a group of Dhol Drummers will lead the crowds to fire sculptures (many of them created by Walk the Plank), performances and installations in Midsummer Boulevard (East). Milton Keynes’ iconic black porte cochère street structures are transformed by French sculptor Denis Tricot, sonic artist Dan Fox and Milton Keynes dance organisation MÓTUS.
Denis Tricot is known for weaving strips of pliable poplar wood in and around large public spaces. Forming a kind of elegant, three-dimensional ‘writing’, his sculptures form a response to the surrounding architecture. His treatment of two portes cochères will be accompanied by firelight and live music.
Sonic artist Dan Fox will occupy his porte cochère with Fruits of the Fire, a new work in sculpture, sound and light. He samples the sounds of live fire to use as an instrument and harnesses its raw energy to control lighting. Dan has also supported Milton Keynes sound artist Stuart Moore on the creation of a new composition for the fire sculptures.
People can also enjoy Festive Road’s ingenious moving mechanical sculptures and eccentric characters, The Futurists, who will be roaming the Boulevard.
MÓTUS have created a dynamic performance piece danced by a trio of women in and around a porte cochère. Playing with different qualities of fire, the performance journeys through joy, passion and recklessness as sparks are ignited and embers rekindled.
The People’s Procession – 250 citizens of all ages and backgrounds carrying flaming torches – will then move from the MK Rose in Campbell Park to lead the crowds through a traffic-free Midsummer Boulevard (East) to The Point Car Park for live music and a flaming finale for a birthday party like no other.
The People’s Procession will then meet with hot-stepping, upbeat band Mr Wilson’s Second Liners who take to a fiery stage to play classic 90’s dance tunes in a New Orleans jazz style. World music guru and pop pioneer DJ Ritu will continue the party with a set made up of fire-related tunes from the past 50 years against a backdrop of fire drawings created by local young people and pop-up dance performances from Pagrav Dance.
The performances and work by Denis Tricot, Dan Fox, Stuart Moore, Motus and Pagrav Dance have all been specially commissioned for Feast of Fire.
Fireworks launched from the roof of intu Milton Keynes will bring the event to a spectacular close – leaving Milton Keynes, its residents and visitors on a high and looking forward to the next 50 years.
Throughout the evening, the bars and restaurants of Milton Keynes, centre:mk and intu Milton Keynes will be open, and there will be food trucks and street food on offer at The Point and Midsummer Boulevard. The Stables pop-up bars will include two local beers from Concrete Cow and Hornes Brewery.
More information: www.ifmiltonkeynes.org