Jaw-dropping circus, roaming theatre shows, trapeze artists, dancers and musicians will fill the streets of Cardiff this July in a celebration of the best inclusive and disability arts from around the world.
Performers with physical and learning disabilities from Mozambique, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy and the UK will perform in the Hijinx Unity Festival from 1-5 July across Cardiff, including at the prestigious Millennium Centre.
The Festival has been created by Welsh theatre company Hijinx to give a platform to work made by disabled and non-disabled artists working together as equals.
Ben Pettitt-Wade, Hijinx’s artistic director, said: "I am hugely excited about this year's festival, which is our most ambitious yet in terms of the variety of locations we are using, from the City’s main shopping streets to Wales Millennium Centre and a church! Plus of course the new secret location of ‘Beneath the Streets: Lost and Found’.
"It is also a year of firsts: the first year we will present a free performance programme in the City Centre, the first year we will welcome an inclusive performance from Africa and the first time we are creating a pit-stop and picnic area for families and other festival-goers to enjoy."
Through a high-quality programme of performing arts, the Festival promotes positive images of disability and social inclusion to audiences and has grown to attract more than 10,000 visitors per year since its creation in 2008.
The first show, Hijinx and Punchdrunk Enrichment - Beneath the Streets: Lost and Found will take place at a secret location in Cardiff City Centre on June 26, with the Festival climaxing with a full programme across the city on July 5.
Headlining the final weekend are French circus artists Cirque Inextremiste with a breath-taking balancing act above the Hayes. They will be joined by German theatre company Blaumeier-Atelier, puppetry theatre specialists About Face Theatre, Seville-based dance company Danza Mobile, visually impaired trapeze artist Amelia Cavallo and Hijinx’s own pop-up theatre shows ‘The Pods’, to name but a few acts. Internationally renowned dancer, Marc Brew, and his company will perform a dance piece set on a deserted island made from six tonnes of sand.
This year, for the first time, the Festival also includes a Schools’ Day for Year 6 and 7 pupils focused on inclusive performance to inspire the next generation about the abilities of people who live with a disability. Two hundred pupils from Blackwood Comprehensive, Cantonian High School and their feeder primaries will spend a day at Wales Millennium Centre watching performances and meeting disabled artists. The day has been generously supported by Millennium Stadium Charitable Trust.
Nick Capaldi, chief executive of Arts Council of Wales, added: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Hijinx on Wales’ only inclusive arts festival. This unique Festival celebrates the best in international inclusive theatre.
"This thought-provoking festival will offer new and exciting ways of enjoying a range of arts experiences. Featuring some exceptional people, with and without learning disabilities, the Unity Festival shows the excitement, innovation and fun that we can all have when we forget what separates us and remember what unites us."