Son et Lumiere

I can’t believe the amount of festivity, celebration and general things-to-do in the next few months. Greenwich & Docklands Festival the Create festival, which I don’t quite understand but wholly applaud, the general Henry VIII celebrations centred around the Old Royal Naval College plus shows, picnics, open studios, free screenings – not least, I should mention in particular, that Bubble Theatre’s promenade extravaganzas are back after a stormy time with the Arts Council – book your tickets for The Odyssey now… It’s definitely summertime – you name the diversion, it’s on.

But the one thing that has really caught my eye is something that is so much fun on the surface that no one seems to have bothered to look behind the concept to find that Greenwich has yet another historical precedent…

Whilst trying to find the website for the Son et Lumiere being presented as part of the Greenwich & Docklands Festival, it popped back into my head that Greenwich was the very first place in Britain to stage such an event – in 1957, projected onto ‘Greenwich Palace’ – I’m assuming that means the Queen’s House.

It sounds as though it was quite a production. It seems as though Laurence Olivier was one of five actors involved and John Hotchkis composed it, but I can’t find any more information than that about it. The University of Kent at Canterbury holds a theatre programme that advertises it – the ref is UKC/PRG/READ/SON GRE : F173078, if you’re interested…

This year, from the publicity graphics, at least, implies that the same ‘screen’ will be used this time. It will have live music – Handel’s Water Music – first performed on a barge down the river Thames, celebrating the composer’s 250th anniversary, a light/video show and spoken word (hope there’s not too much of the latter; I want to hear the music…)

It starts quite late – 10.00pm – but if it’s a fine evening it should be an incredible experience.


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