Inspired by the adventures of Grace…

Jude Thomas, of Lines of Desire, describes their recent Swan Pedalo inspired production in the North East:

Inspired by the adventures of Grace…
…was a recent commission realised for Enchanted Parks 2012 (an innovative after-dark arts experience which annually transforms Gateshead’s Saltwell Park into a magical night-time winter wonderland). Dive-in movie was a twist on the 1950s style Drive-in. The Lines of Desire arts collective created an outdoor cinema, consisting of movie screen, projection booth, concession stand and a theatre area where visitors could view the movie from the privacy and comfort of, not parked cars but swan pedalos (which were woken from their Saltwell Park winter nest).

The piece provided a humorous, surprising and innovative experience for the audience to discover and enjoy. Sited on the Aviary Lawn (in keeping with the bird/swan theme), visitors were first greeted to the cinema by Susie Cygnet, an usherette, waving her programme; who provided cheeky dialogue, torch light guidance and amusement. Once in the cinema (either seated in the pedalos, park benches or watching from the sides) visitors were able to watch The Bench, a bespoke short slapstick movie (featuring Maurice and Maureen Parkinson, two romantics who want a quiet moment together on a park bench). Audience engagement was central to the work, with further entertainment provided by Sad Cyril – the cinema projectionist, and Sidney Plumage – the charming Commissioner. Some lucky members of the audience may have found themselves in the love seat or one of the cheap seats!

All in all, the piece was a great success! Despite the challenges involved of floating and cleaning some very sorry swans (who had been in quarantine due to green algae), breaking ice to access them…it all paid off. Dive-in movie received very positive feedback and an estimated 16000 visitors visited over the 5 days. The swans are now back on their lake – probably missing the love and attention they have grown accustomed to.

Lines of Desire are Russ Coleman, Zoe Lambert, Jude Thomas and Rob Walton. They now consider themselves experienced in the art of swan pedalo handling!

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