Mini long march
Mini long march

Harold Offeh was born in Ghana and lives in London. For the project, Harold conceived a festival or parade for the village children, which visualised and celebrated the community and its stakeholders, portraying a complex vision of the social ecology of the village.

Harold worked with the children of the school over a three week period making costumes and developing a relationship with the pupils that got them to look at the social make up of their village. The aim was to create a spectacle which demonstrated the complex mix of agendas within the community and to celebrate the reality of the situation rather than the fantasised version of rural representation.

For three weeks he worked with the school to make masks and costumes which represented the stakeholders in the region – forest workers, power station workers, farmers etc – and developed a parade which would march through the village to congregate the community at the theatre. In addition to this all the artists contributed to the festival day – titled Happy Stacking Day – with cooking, dance lessons, and performance.

In the build up to Happy Stacking Day, the artists worked with school and community groups to develop dances for public performance on the day.

The order of proceedings was as follows:

Schedule for Saturday 17 May

Daytime

7.00am Set up stall in Market selling artists and local product. Opening of Ping Fang Shop

Cooking demonstration 9.00-10.00 Maria Benjamin: Flapjack, chapattis and curry

Cooking 11.00-1200 Alistair Hudson: Pear Crumble

Brian Davies on stall presenting new market and ping fang designs

New packaging demonstrations and films with Jay Yung

3.00pm clear up market and ping fang

Parade

1530 Harold meets children at school and walks them to ping fang

1545 Children Assemble at ping fang and put on costumes

1600 Parade departs ping fang to square, walks around square once and collect maypole

Laura and Maria carry maypole to apartment block green

1610 arrive at green by apartments and erect pole

1610 to 1625 maypole dance

1625 parade proceeds to square and march to theatre

1640 arrive at theatre

Pole on lower platform, left; stall on lower platform right; harp under tree to right, red stall roof centre of lower platform; children at top of steps.

Performance

1645 - 1650 Children of Wuzhishen School perform song on the theme of nature

1650 – 1655 Welcome Speech: Alistair Hudson accompanied by Chinese harp

1655 – 1710 Chinese Dancing from the Workers Union Dance Group

1710 – 1715 Harold Offeh teaches hip hop and booty shaking

1715 – 1730 Scottish Country Dancing: Strip the Willow

1730- close Refreshments and more dancing on demand.
The parade gathered support from the community and provided an event that acted as a counterpoint to the sadness over the recent earthquake disaster in Sichuan province. To be sure, we checked with the community that it was not insensitive to hold a festival so close to the disaster.

Over and above a chance to celebrate the life and culture of the village the parade was designed to instigate the thought that they may hold further festivals on their own terms, promote the culture of the village to tourists, attracting a better engagement, telling the story of the village and instilling confidence in their own community.

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