Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Mud, Glorious Mud!

Well this weekend has been an experience!

Most of you will know (or realise) that I am a creature who likes my home comforts and the thought of even getting caught in the rain will make me feel a little bit queasy. But I know that a Music Festival is one of the Great British Pass-times so when Red Sarah asked me to be part of her 'Freaks and Sexpots' show for the new Nova Festival I decided to brave it!

Nova Festival

The weather the preceding week didn't exactly fill me with confidence, however the festival site was an idyllic cluster of fields in the beautiful countryside of Sussex, so what could go wrong?

The weather - and we hadn't even arrived!

Arriving onsite, we were told the car park was bogged in and cars were having to be towed into the festival! However when I said I was one of the performers, we were waved through and allowed to part on the road, which was a godsend as the rain didn't stop all weekend and most cars were having to be removed by tractors by the end of the festival!

Fortunately the rain stopped for about an hour in the afternoon, which gave us just enough time to pitch a tent

Home for the Weekend

The first show of the weekend wasn't until the evening so I took the opportunity to wander round and see what this, my first festival, had to offer!

Secret Post Office ** Solar Powered Cabins

Tea and Snuggle ** Hot Tubs in the Forest


Pie-Makers ** Campfire Sessions

Sculpture, Artwork and Pretty Tents 

Swings in the Zen Garden ** Hurly Burly Theatre Restaurant

Despite never having been to a festival before, I couldn't help thinking that there didn't seem to be much to do... The food stands were lovely (good quality and excellent value for money!) and there were one or two stalls selling hats, jewellery and other knick-knacks. The Hurly-Burly restaurant tent served nice food and drinks, interspersed with occasional outbreaks of dancing and stage-shows, and the Zen garden was initially very relaxing (though as the weekend wore on, the mud got here too!) with massages on offer and open-air hot tubs. 

In a rare moment of beautiful rainlessness...

I think, if it had been a 'Day' Festival as opposed to a weekends worth, it would have been more exciting but as many people were there for the whole weekend, I would have thought there would have been more on offer.

Unfortunately, our show didn't go ahead as planned due to the car carrying half of the cast breaking down en-route! However, in true show-business style, 'the show must go on' and myself, Red Sarah and Miss Cairo spent a chaotic hour entertaining visitors outside the theatre tent!

Getting ready ** Costumed festival-ites

Red as Eugen Sandow ** Myself and Miss Cairo

Miss Cairo, Children's Entertainer Extraordinaire ** Me and Red

I *have* to say, I have the utmost bafflement and respect for Miss Cairo who insisted in performing in high heels all evening... brilliantly bonkers!

The next morning, we awoke to find it had poured down all weekend and showed no intention of stopping! The show that day was due to take place outside and had to unfortunately be cancelled due to adverse weather conditions! Fortunately for me, one of my favourite people in the world, Alexandra Hofgartner, had arrived and we hid from the rain in the Hurly Burly tent.

Myself with The Hof and her sister.

Taz and I left the site once or twice to grab provisions (wine) from Tesco and stopped off at a country pub for lunch to dry off, warm up and make the most of the toilet facilities - Festival Toilets certainly lived up to their reputations, although according to the hardened festival-goers, the Nova toilets were better than most, I still have yet to be convinced of the merits of the 'Long Drop' as they are apparently affectionately known.

We went for a little walk around and stumbled across what was definitely a haunted house, and also visited the seaside for the afternoon before heading back to the festival.

Creepy Haunted House in the Forest ** Seaside!

That evening, the Fearless Theatre was holding their 'Pick of the Pleasance' Comedy night, so we went along (with our little camping chairs) and caught some of the best comedians I've ever seen! "Abandonman" - freestyle rapper who uses objects, people and verbal cues provided by the audience to create incredible, rapid-fire raps: "Late Night Gimp Fight" - a sketch comedy group with a wicked, twisted sense of humour that appealed to me perfectly! and "Doc Brown" who used to be a mainstream rapper before joining the comedy circuit. I think this was where I got a stitch from laughing so much!

After the comedy, we braved the pouring rain to watch Red Sarah and an insane cast of performers stage a fire show in the rain, to the hypnotic sounds of "Late Night Tales with Howie B"

Red Sarah - setting fire to the rain... or something... :P

Our show the following day was scheduled for the late-night slot - over eighteens only!! We were getting changed in a little tent behind the main theatre, and the run back and forth across a dark, waterlogged field was... erm, interesting!
The show was compered by Rubyyy Jones - who opened the show with a full frontal assault on the audience - and the cast comprised one of the most eclectic and interesting assortment of performers I've ever worked with, including British Heart, Raven Six, Mister Mistress, Khandie Khisses - who completely and utterly stole the show with a magnificent mudslide! - and Red Sarah herself.
The audience loved the whole thing and, to top off the weekend, we got a ride in a dune buggy back to the car!!

Red Sarah ** Me

Alex and Sister in the audience ** Raven Six Backstage 

British Heart Backstage ** A hug for Khandie Khisses

Pre-show gossip ** The stage kit...

So, what did I make of my first festival? Well: given the typical British Summer weather, I've never understood why organisations have a contingency plan "IF" it rains - surely the plan should always be for rain, with an option in case the unthinkable happens and it's actually sunny for a while? There were not enough covered areas, places to sit, or other diversions (once you've played crazy golf once or twice, debated a massage - we didn't - or braved the open air naked hot tubs - again, we didn't: there wasn't much else left) which led to us all wandering around aimlessly in increasingly deep mud, heading back to our tents to drink wine, or leaving the site altogether to find entertainment elsewhere.
However, the aesthetic of the festival was lovingly thought out with beautiful bits of hidden artwork and sculpture, a pop-up pub in an old barn house called The Nova Arms, interesting poetry readings, talks and the odd band whose music I didn't mind. I think, had the weather been glorious, I would have been perfectly content to doze in the Sussex countryside listening to the music. Conversely, the weather being what it is, I would still have been happier had there been more to actually *do* as opposed to standing in the sideways rain listening to bands I've hardly heard of.
I do think it was a nice starting point for a new festival but if I was to go back to another one anytime soon, it would have to be undercover, or somewhere warm, or at the very least, somewhere with no mud...

Mud Mud Mud Mud Mud Mud Mud....

**Memories from Nova Festival Weekend**
**Mud**Food: Raclette, Toasties, Fish&Chips, Burritos, Smoothies, Lemonade, Lassi... All good**The Hurly Burly Restaurant girls dancing to Tusk by Fleetwood Mac**Styrofoam Hitler on the Crazy Golf Course**Animatronic Polar Bear in the Greenpeace Tent**Watching people mudslide across the fields**

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