2010 is Korea’s fourth year of participation in the Thames Festival, and each year the participation seems to get more ambitious. This year, the location moved from Tower Bridge, where there are possibly fewer punters strolling by, to the high-profile Jubilee Gardens, under the shadow of the London Eye, where the crowds are much more substantial.
The move meant surrendering the perfect theatrical space that is the Scoop, by the London Assembly Building, and pitching camp on a flat piece of grass, thus compromising on visibility. Next year, remember to bring your picnic blanket so that you are more comfortable sitting on the grass. In addition, the refined sound of traditional instruments from Baramgot and the laid-back jazz of Winterplay had to compete with the more boisterous noise from the huge Barclaycard stage a within all-too-easy earshot. But the proximity of the venue to Hungerford Bridge meant that the Cultural Centre could be linked in with the Festival proceedings much more easily. Indeed – a trail of stickers on the pavement linked the KCC in Northumberland Avenue to Jubilee Gardens. They must have been a job to remove on the Monday.
In fact, the events at the KCC were as engaging as the events South of the river. Sef Townsend’s story-telling sessions for children were equally enthralling for adults: he has a natural gift for involving his young audience, not only with the vivid nature of the narrative but also with the discussion of the story afterwards. A real treat for children of all ages.
Downstairs there were board games to play, and animation DVDs to watch. Cuddly toys from cartoon series such as Pororo the little Penguin lounged on Choi Jeong-hwa’s designer sofas, ignoring the special mural depicting Hong Sang-soo’s Day the Pig Fell into the Well (marking the current retrospective of Hong’s films at the South Bank.
Breakout, the stage show with b-boys, seemed to be well received, as was Baramgot and Winterplay. And for those who were quick off the mark there was a marquee with free bibimbap and baeseju, hosted by the Korean ambassador and the organiser of the Thames Festival, marking the launch of Korea’s participation in the Rivers of the World project.
Mercifully the weather seemed to smile on the event, and we look forward to next year.