4 Corners - Joanna Dukkipati at the Festival of Fools, Belfast


As you know, communication has various forms.

I believe we live in an extremely visually motivated world today. While I am (sadly) consumed by the all hypnotic colossal 'hep', I am also humbly moved by that which is not blatant.I am rather curious of all the books I have not read, of the plays I have not watched, of the movies I have not seen, of the paintings I have not known-- am curious for my own selfishness.

One look at the event brochure and The Festival of Fools surely promises to be an unforgettable experience not only for any one who loves performing arts but also for those looking for an adventure. I was definitely game.

The Festival of Fools (29th April to 1st May 2010) is Belfast’s annual celebration of street performances with the only objective to share the world of imagination with the people of her city. The Festival had multiple locations that were open air Squares and so good weather was indeed a blessing. I left home that Saturday morning equipped with my comfortable walking shoes waiting to be blown away.

Of the many stunt acts that day- the one I loved most was by the American husband-wife duo who simply called themselves ‘ Daredevil Chicken Club’. They were cheeky and the story they told us through their stunts may not have been extraordinary but their agility was the least subtle. They were a great team and succeeded in keeping the audience, not just engaged, but the open space ensured that they could teach them a stunt or trick. Right from getting in and out of tiny hula -hoops to shooting pieces of fruit accurately into each other’s mouth as though a tennis ball; it was hilariously unforgettable.

The acts were local and international and meant to entertain anybody young or old. Physical strength and grace came together without hesitation. The quirky, the mystical, the sheer cheesy made the streets alive. I felt for one afternoon I was in performing art heaven.

Another act worth a mention was the physically demanding story of three friends who are destined to go their own ways. An innovative narration called ‘Until Now’ by the Swedish trio, Mimbre was filled with fluidity, rhythm and humour. The many flips, balancing acts and little surprises were more than captivating. It was quite a challenge to keep the audience stunned for 40 minutes, but they did it effortlessly. Their music score still hums in my head.

The day finished with the parade of the ‘Mr. Pejo's Wandering Dolls Decadence’. This harmless procession of absolute white beings carrying Chinese lanterns and a mysterious chariot that plays bell like sounds. As the white entities walked around the city they would run into you and look at you through their large masks leaving some of us scared or the likes of me amused.

The honesty of each performance and its proximity made it the entire Festival very special to me.
The Festival of Fools is exactly what it is...a celebration of all that is creative and absurd at first but meant to make one happy. This Festival is an effort to promote performing arts and sadly does not have funding. This only reminded me of the situation in
India where theatre, classical dance and other non 'main stream' art is struggling. Alas.