Sunday, 07 February 2016

Lakes Alive auditions in Ulverston - 2012 programme announced

A FRENCH director flew into the UK and got straight to work with talented Cumbrian artists to work on a world-first production to be staged on the shores of Windermere.

Raymond Gabriel, artistic director of Les Commandos Percu, who will perform On The Night Shift at the Glebe, Bowness, on the night the Olympic torch comes to South Cumbria, arrived in Britain yesterday afternoon.

Today he got straight to work on auditions which will see 26 competitors from across the north of England, bid to take part in the showpiece spectacular.

Toulouse-based Gabriel said he was looking forward to working with the English artists, to create what is set to be a stunning production commissioned by Lakes Alive.

He explained that if the production is successful the artists will have the opportunity to take it on tour with his world-acclaimed French street artists Les Commandos Percu.

A forrester by trade Gabriel started the percussion group 17 years ago using only drum sticks. He soon built it up to a group which receives commissions from all over the globe.

"Our performances have a common language. We talk with drums and fire. And that reaches people whatever their culture.

"One time a person came up to me after a performance who was deaf and dumb but was able to demonstrate to they me they had felt the performance inside. That's what the drums can do. That is one of my best memories."

And he is looking forward to working with English artists to create the new performance.

"I feel privileged to be in the UK, and in Cumbria and the Lake District working with Lakes Alive and the performers from here.

"Great Britain is the home of rock music and it is always great to perform here. We always get a great reception."

And his aim for the production? "To bring people some lightness in the darkness. We are all On The Night Shift!" he said.

Ruth MacKenzie, director of culture London 2012, also met up with Gabriel and the Lakes Alive team in south Cumbria last night to launch this year's Lakes Alive programme.

She paid tribute to Julie Tait and the Lakes Alive team for bringing world class performances to Cumbria which she said was helping put the county on the global cultural map.

"It's not just about 2012 and what happens this year. The legacy is what happens in 2013, 2014, 2015, and beyond. There is a once in a lifetime opportunity here,” she said with a chance to change the way Britain and the arts are viewed.

"My aim is to ensure that it is not only the sporting images of 2012 which will live long in the memory, but the images from the arts and cultural events as well.

"The setting for Lakes Alive events, like the one at Windermere, are of the place. They are amazing settings. And there is an opportunity to beam images of these events from places like the Lake District all around the world.

"That is the size of the opportunity here."

Gabriel also stressed that areas around the world which embrace arts festivals, find economic development follows, with creative activity feeding business and vice versa.

Lakes Alive is appealing to the business community, as well as residents, to support the programme and ensure that there is a legacy of arts events for 2012 and beyond.

A total of 26 aspiring drummers and dancers have been shortlisted to take part in a weekend of auditions, which will be held at the Lanternhouse in Ulverston from today until Sunday.

They will be put through their paces in the workshops by four members of the Commandos Percu team – artistic director Raymond Gabriel, musician, production co-ordinator Lisa Trouilhet, and musicians and pyrotechnicians Metty Benistant and Ruddy Thery.

At the end of the weekend, a collection of 12 drummers and dancers will be selected to take part in the big event. One of the percussionists will be appointed as assistant musical director to work more closely with Raymond Gabriel on the music and one of the dancers will become the principal choreographer for the piece.

The chosen performers will work on the show with Commandos Percu at a series of rehearsal workshops that will take place at Lanternhouse over the next six months.

They will take part in two performances which will be held on the shores of Windermere, following the arrival of the Olympic torch on June 21 and in Preston on September 9 as part of the finale of The Preston Guild.

The London 2012 Festival marks the climax of the Cultural Olympaid – a 12 week UK-wide cultural celebration which opens on June 21 with the Lakes Alive event at Windermere.

Further details about Lakes Alive can be found at For more details on the London 2012 Festival visit


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