INTERVIEW: Hartlepool Waterfront Festival | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Jack of Hearts by Howy White Photography

Hartlepool’s Waterfront Festival returns for its fifth year on Saturday 9th-Sunday 10th July. After a couple of years of precautionary cutbacks due to global health concerns, it’s full steam ahead for 2022 with the forward-looking theme, When The Boat Comes In. There are big events and big changes coming to the area in the future, from Hartlepool Marina’s upcoming renovations which will transform the Festival’s usual site to the town’s stint as host for the Tall Ships Races in 2023. With such a transitory period on the horizon, the Waterfront Festival celebrates hellos and goodbyes with equal measure. 

The festival brings local talents and internationally renowned creative minds to the North East for a weekend of explorative entertainment. Prominently featured at the festival, located in Hartlepool’s Town Hall Theatre from Monday 4th-Sunday 10th July) will be multidisciplinary sculptor Luke Jerram’s standout piece Gaia; a to-scale replica of Planet Earth that allows its spectator to gaze upon it as if they were in space. In addition to exhibitions and interactive workshops for all ages and interests, the roster of North East-based movers and makers will make for a jam-packed weekend. 

Performer and writer Colly Metcalfe will be performing alongside the incredible singer songwriter Nadedja on the Sunday. She explains: “I am a deaf performer and writer. I write and perform spoken word in two languages, British Sign Language (BSL) and spoken English, sometimes I mix the two, sometimes I only use BSL with no voice over.” Her signed BSL performances are “a bit more like ‘signed dance’ than just taking a song and translating the words!” Metcalfe says of her performance at Waterfront: “I will be adding grace and deeper meaning using not only BSL, but body language and full emotion. Performing live with Nadedja will absolutely blow people away, bringing my language into the mainstream. Having live vocals will make for a very interesting third dimension to Nadedja’s beautiful work, and hopefully this visual different aspect will capture the audience.”

The festival brings local talents and internationally renowned creative minds to the North East for a weekend of explorative entertainment

Illustrator and spoken word artist Lizzie Lovejoy has taken a few projects under their belt this year, including a performance piece touching on ideas of support, community and friendship, as well as one in collaboration with Metcalfe “to develop a performance piece which celebrates Northern culture and champions our identities.” The Waterfront Festival is the perfect outlet for Lovejoy. “Northernness is inherent in all of my work, it’s core to who I am as a person, and I hope people will take pride in our collective identity and share in what we have built.”

The newly formed community interest company Jack of Hearts have also been commissioned to create a performance piece. “We collected stories from local literature, historical records and a storytelling session held at the local pub, The Pot House,” explains creative producer Vicky Jackson, and The Pilot Cats of Pilot Pier already received a warm reception over the Jubilee weekend. 

Further attractions include Tangled Feet Theatre’s Murmurations; a guided tour into nature at North Gare; an extravagant ceilidh from performance group Folk Dance; Hartlepool Folk Festival take over the Campfire Stage on Saturday; while on Sunday, Tees Women Poets perform sets based around the festival’s theme.

With the entire festival being unticketed and pay what you decide at each performance, the Waterfront Festival promises to a welcoming atmosphere for all.

Hartlepool Waterfront Festival takes place at Hartlepool Marina on Saturday 9th-Sunday 10th July. 

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