Caravanserai: a project inspired by travelling performers
A project inspired by travelling performers
and co production between ECDP and Cultural Engine CIC
Caravanserai is a stopping place; an inn defined by a central courtyard for travellers in the desert regions of Asia. They existed along the Silk Road and became cultural hubs through which stories and various art forms travelled and transformed between cultures from Village to Village.
Similarly, another form of creative travelling culture existed in Europe and England. From the 1600’s until the mid-nineteenth century, groups of actors and acrobats known as Troubadours toured the region bringing theatre and arts to the people. Performers walked the routes of East Anglia.
Using the two traditions of travelling performers from the Silk Road across Asia and Troubadours of East Anglia, the Caravanserai project took place in Summer 2019 and explored circus, dance, music and storytelling within a contemporary theatrical context, culminating into a touring showcase spectacle in Southend and Chelmsford in Essex, and Thetford in Norfolk.
We worked in partnership with Cultural Engine, to bring together artists and performers, including story narrative specialist Seema Anand, storyteller Sarah Brady, Circus Raj and the Rajasthan Heritage Brass Band from India, Colchester Chinese Cultural Society, Folk Dance Remixed and Kinetika Silk Flag project.
The project toured across Essex and East Anglia, performing at the Fling Festival in Chelmsford, Village Green at Metal in Southend, and at the Thetford Mela, the grand finale of the Festival of Norfolk & Punjab.
Artist Salons also took place as part of the Caravanserai, to support artists from diverse backgrounds. These were led by Giles Tofield at Cultural Engine CIC and Dipak Mistry at Arts Council England, and explored how to write strong funding bids, introduced ECDP’s commissioning programme, and discussed the ACE’s Creative Case for Diversity.
Photo and Video highlights
Here are some photos of the Caravanserai project as it took place across Essex and East Anglia (from our Flickr Image Archive):