Things are about to get wild on edition number 2 of Backstage. If you want to jump knee deep into the world of Just So Festival, The Lost Carnival and A Day at The Lake, then you're in the right place.
We started working with the Wild Rumpus team last year and we wanted them to spill the beans on exactly how and why they run their fantastic and fascinating events. We caught up with Sarah Bird, the Director of Wild Rumpus and Just So Festival.
When did Just So Festival start and how has it grown/changed?
We set up Just So Festival seven years ago, with a pretty clear idea of what we wanted it to be like. We wanted to tap into the magic of weekend music festivals – when audiences come together in a different place, space and frame of mind, with some of the nostalgia of an English childhood made up of camping trips, campfires and midnight feasts, but in a curious and surprising landscape.
Now in its 7th year, Just So is an outdoor weekend camping adventure, showcasing the best literature, art, music, comedy, circus, dance, storytelling, theatre and visual art for families in a landscape of woodland clearings, rolling parkland, arboreal amphitheatres and lakeside spots.
What made you decide to be a Festival organiser?
There was never a great ambition to be festival organisers, our initial enthusiasm was for sharing stories, bringing like minded people together and inspiring them - a festival environment was the perfect setting for this.
How did you come up with your event name?
The original Just So Festival site overlooked Rudyard Lake in Staffordshire, it’s where Mr & Mr’s Kipling met and courted, they later named their first born son Rudyard after the Lake. With our love of stories it seemed logical for us to name our festival after his Just So Stories.
What's your favorite event (not your own)?
Probably Hay-on-Wye Literature Festival.
Which events have/do inspire you?
Lots of the street arts festivals, some of the work by the National Theatre Wales and everything that Punchdrunk produce.
If you could have anyone headline your event who would you choose (past or present)?
We’re less about headline music acts and more about the arts so it would probably be one of the big European Circus Companies like Compagnie Transe Express.
If you weren't putting on events, what would you be doing?
I’d be running a bookshop.
What's your number 1 tip for surviving your festival?
Leave your inhibitions at the gate and be prepared to play.
What makes your event stand out from all the rest?
Our audience are incredible, they dress up, sing, play, dance and create - most of the time it’s hard to work out who’s a performer and who’s an audience member, which creates the most wonderful atmosphere on site.
Where would we find you on the last night of your festival?
Round the campfire, having a drink with the incredible volunteers who help put the festival on.
Finally - Do you ever get used to portaloos?
I don’t mind a portaloo at all - there were some amusing moments last year when people dressed as stags got their antlers stuck and couldn’t get out again!