Where did that year go? I can't believe another Freedom Festival in Hull has come and gone. For those of you who don't know about the Freedom Festival, it started 9 years ago in 2007 and the main theme for the Freedom Festival is the William Wilberforce’s Act of Parliament which abolished the slave trade. Over the years the festival has grown in size and continues to draw a crowd. This year the festival had over 200 performances from 25 countries and was held over 3 days 2nd - 4th September. Various locations were used in the city with a total of 24 locations from Queens Gardens, Fruit Market, Marina, Tidal Barrier and the new open air theatre "Stage@TheDock".
The opening night saw the fantastic performance called "Les Commandos Percu & Deabru Beltzak's A Clash of Drums". The drummers started at the back of the crowd, did a little performance before making their way through the crowd to the stage.
Saturday was a little bit of a disaster for the festival due to the rain. From 11am till 6pm it rained, and rained and rained. This had a huge impact on the festival. Some of the outdoor performances were cancelled due to the rain and some areas and location venues were flooded. Originally before arriving at the festival I checked the weather and the rain was forecast to start around 1pm. But as usual, they had got it wrong and started to rain just after 11am as I was walking down to the main stage area on Wellington Street. I was determined that I would get some photography and continued to have a look around, as there was one act I wanted to see and that was "The Flying Buttresses - Hodman Dodmanott and Sally Forth" This was a walk about puppet act which was so entertaining to watch and featured two elderly characters from the country of Obliva. To find out more about this company an act visit their website by clicking here.
Hodman and Sally
Another act that was performing in the same location was another piece of street theatre called Pif-Paf Theatre presents The Flycycle and The Submercycle. Two creations where they take people on a adventure ride around the festival.
The Flycycle and The Submercycle
By this time the rain had got too much for me to carry on enjoying the festival, so I decided to return home and hope the rain would stop for the evening as there were a few acts in the evening I wanted to see. I returned after 6 pm, and that's when I found out that a lot of the acts had been cancelled due to the weather. The main act I wanted to see was called Heliosphere and that was due to start at 8.30pm. So this left me with a couple of hours to find some other acts to watch and hopefully take some photos. That didn't take long until I started to find some.
While walking along Humber Street I saw the act Kiddy Ride Police Patrol who were going around entertaining the crowd. This act wasn't listed on the guide for Saturday, so either it was a mistake with the guide or they decided to come out for the crowd due to the bad weather cancelling a lot of the acts during the day. I followed these as they continue to head toward the underpass. The photo below shows you what they did next which I think was excellent :).
Kiddy Ride Police Patrol
At 8 pm I took my position where Heliosphere would be performing and watched as they filled their huge balloon with helium, ready for their aerialist to perform her acrobatics while suspended underneath. During her performance, the balloon would rise and fall and move around in front of the crowd as she also performs to music.
Photographing this act was a little tricky as I didn't have my off camera flash with me due to filming POV footage that evening. So I had to use very high ISO to make sure my shutter speed was fast enough to capture a sharp image. I took many photos which looked ok on the LCD screen, but when I got them on the computer the majority were either out of focus, or noise from high ISO even after Photoshop ruined the image. Below is one of a few images that came out from this act.
Sunday was a better day, with better weather and a full schedule of performances. I had my list of acts that I wanted to see today, which also included some from Saturday that had been cancelled. The first location was Princes Dock Street for an act called The Spurting Man. This was an act where you knew you would possibly get a little wet. It was a very clever act which involved 2 actors, over 200 litres of water and a 25-minute silent performance.
The Spurting Man
From here I went for a quick walk around Queens Garden as a few things were going on, but none of the acts had started, so I took a few basic photos and then I moved down to the main area near the Marina and across to the Tidal Barrier and to the next performance I wanted to see. This performance had already started of "Le Cirque Du Platzak" Unfortunately because it had already started I was unable to get a good position to watch the performance on stage and capture some photos. For photo opportunities, I had to wait until the performers were high on their set so I could get some clear shots.
Cirque Du Platzak
Not only had I missed the start of this act, but I was unable to watch it to the end, as another act I wanted to see was about to begin on Nelson Street. Due to the cancellation of many of the acts I wanted to see on a Saturday, meant I had to miss a few I wanted to see on Sunday because I was watching the acts from Saturday. The act on Nelson Street was "Bramble FM 69.9" This was a mock radio roadshow from a caravan that made fun of old road shows that radio stations used to perform in the 70's through to early 90's. One thing I didn't realise about this performance was that it went on for 3 hours. It was listed in the schedule 2 pm - 5 pm but I thought there was going to be breaks in the performance.
After an hour and a half of watching them, I decided to go for a walk around the festival as I wanted to take some more photos as I felt that I hadn't taken as many as I was hoping too due to the bad weather on Saturday. Because I spent so long watching Bramble FM I had missed a few acts, and there was only one act listed that I decided to stay and wait for them to start. This act was called "The Wandering Orquestra"
The Wandering Orquestra
This was a novelty street performance based on a group of musicians who knew where they were meant to be playing but didn't know the exact location until they had all found each other. The performers then got the audience to follow them around the streets to other locations to where they would perform more of their routine. The only issue I had with this was, for those who got to the front for when the performance started, found themselves either at the back or in the middle, both with restrictive views. To most people, this wouldn't matter, but for me, as a photographer, it does especially if you wait for a performance to begin, and want to capture some photographs. Luckily the performers were always standing on platforms, or wheelie bins so people could see them in the crowds.
I didn't get to see all this performance for the only reason of the way it was being performed. The constant moving of location also meant that more people would join the crowd to watch and at sometimes you were being either pushed about by other audience members or every time I tried to take photos I would get somebody in a shot. So I decided to call it a day on this year's festival and head back to the car to go home and begin editing the video and photos that I did manage to take.
To view more photos that I took of this year's festival click here.
I am already making arrangements for next years Freedom Festival which will be 1st - 3rd September 2017. Hopefully, this will be slightly better than this years, as all the City of Culture works will be complete and it will be easier to move about the festival.
Below is a vlog from the weekend. I managed to put together some video footage, POV video footage as well as some photos.