Devizes Gearing Up For Street Festival

Less than a month away now until the best day out in Devizes, our International Street Festival; who’s overexcited, who wants to know what’s happening there, and who just wants to get bladdered?! Previous DOCA artistic director Loz Samuals set the bar pretty high, the new DOCA team have a lot to live up to, and I know they’ve been hard at work to get this show on the road, or better, on the Green and in the Market Place!

Dates, before I waffle, is Saturday 27th May, which will take place on the Green, and Sunday 28th at the Market Place, if you’re new or travelling through, this is our mardi gras, Devizes style crop-over and it’s all free! Details of the many acts coming to our town can be found on the DOCA website HERE, I’ve had a browse and I must say it’s just as ever before, mighty impressive and inviting.

Some highlights of this mega meld of international street theatre, music, circus, arts, dance, puppetry, comedy, workshops, environmental talks, food, drink and crafts market, and of course bars, this year is the thirty foot Willow Sanctuary on the Green, designed by artist Sarah Jane and built by the people of Devizes, so you can guarantee it will be as strong as a horse! This temporary event space will be used throughout the whole festival, for acoustic music, a series of environmental talks and a space to relax and reflect; in my era’s slang call a spade a spade, it’s a chill-out space!

But the beauty here is it’s a 100% recyclable chill out zone, and after the event the willow will be, and DOCA invites anyone to take some home for their own gardens and allotments. Really though? I envision this and it tickles me pink to think of those who usually have difficulty navigating themselves home; view carrying a hoard of willow over your shoulder as a challenge! The kind of It’s a Knockout finale which might yet be the icing on the cake!

Or perhaps leave the circus acts to the professionals, DOCA certainly have them in abundance this year, as ever, but it doesn’t end there, you could be flying the trapeze yourself with Above and Beyond, who as well as performing both days will be providing free lessons; here, hold my jesters hat and Black Rat!

Another unique most brilliant concept is The Actual Reality Arcade in which video-games will be interpreted into life sized interactive activities, so you could be shooting space invaders, dodging barrels like Mario, building Tetris walls, and running from ghosts like Pac-Man; are DOCA trying to tell us they intend to encourage gamers to divert their eyes from their consoles and interact with reality? This I have to see!!

With a socially charged exciting reggae-ish voyage laced with messages of peace, love & unity, we see live music from Mischa & His Merry Men, and global underground Balkan reggae and ska from The Cabarats. An award-winning UK folk duo, called Good Habits who seemed none too fussed to be stranded in New Zealand during the pandemic, where they  forged their style, and are bringing it back for us. There’s also the protocol brassy goodness with Tuba Libres. But one thing not on their program which concerns me, and one which I urge you to help me with here, is Devizine’s suggestion for a local upcoming band to be featured on the main stage.

I’m so glad DOCA have taken heed of this, this year. Amidst this wonderful array of international performances, which I truly welcome, for while I wouldn’t want this event to turn insular and simply run with our standard circuit, I do believe some space should be made available on the roster to also highlight some of the talent we have at home. Is it just me, just an age thing?! I genuinely welcome your feedback on this, as I push it to DOCA every year as I believe it is important, and I intend to continue to do so. Hopefully our suggestion for the one local upcoming band who I think deserves to be up on the main stage will become an annual occurrence.

Nothing Rhymes With Orange Image by Gail Foster

So, your help is needed, as we presented Nothing Rhymes With Orange to DOCA and they stand to play at 1pm on the Sunday in the Market Place, despite unfortunately not being listed on the DOCA website. I really don’t know the reason for this, but whatever it is, I need you, good people of Devizes, the followers of Devizine, and the fanbase of Nothing Rhymes With Orange to gather en masse at the Market Place at 1pm, and really show DOCA the worth of introducing this fantastic bunch of local youngsters, and the idea we support local live music. This will not only prove to be a fantastic set by the band, but hallmark a new era whereby upcoming local bands have the opportunity to play on the main stage at our Street Festival.

Okay, said my piece, must jog on, but yeah, DOCA, it looks fantastic yet again, a mahoosive well done from me. From a man and a woman hanging from rusty steel springs to a giant Octopus atop of a tricycle, and from a theatre full of theatrical surprises appearing from under the petticoats of an enormous women’s skirts to the weaving and flowing patterns of traditional Welsh folk-dancing, combined with the pulsating energy of queer nightlife, is erm, not something you see everyday in Devizes Market Place, usually just the 49 bus pulling in and the odd market stall selling ham! 


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