This October, venues across the UK and beyond will be creating Fun Palaces to mark Joan Littlewood’s centenary The Public Reviews’ Andy Moseley went along to the launch to find out more.
In the early 1960s Joan Littlewood and Cedric Price came up with the idea of a Fun Palace, a temporary building where, for one day at least, children and adults would have the chance to become the artists and scientists Littlewood believed we are all capable of being. Her futuristic vision never came to fruition at the time, but fifty years later, as part of the celebration of her centenary, it will finally be realised on the weekend of 4thand 5thOctober when a host of venues are transformed into Fun Palaces.
Stella Duffy, co-director of Fun Palaces, admits she has been taken by surprise by how popular the idea was proving. Having initially thought a dozen venues may sign up, there are now over 150 confirmed Fun Palaces, including one in Canada and another in Iceland, as interest in the project has extended beyond the UK.
The locations range from traditional theatre venues to more unusual locations such asBrockwell Lido, offering physics lectures and eco-action games in a swimming pool, andThe Melodrome Fun Palacein Morecombe where local artists, filmmakers and entertainers will recreate Peppers Ghost, a spectacular Victorian variety theatre illusion. There will also be a Digital Fun Palace, co-commissioned with The Space, where Fun Palace makers and participants can share their fun palace visions.
Duffy describes Fun Palaces as ‘a huge shout for culture at the heart of our communities, working towards democratising arts and science and making them accessible to the people’. The only requirements to become a Fun Palace are that they are free, local, innovative, transformative and engaging. Other than that, the Palaces can do anything they want to encourage communities to engage their imagination, enjoy themselves and be creative for the weekend.
With the number of Fun Palaces continuing to grow, there is every chance that Littlewood’s vision will now become an annual event, inspiring new generations of artist and audiences all over the world.
To sign up to run a Fun Palace, or to get details of the Palaces in your area, go towww.funpalaces.co.uk