Festival Of Desperation

Festival Of Desperation

In Autumn 2010, we celebrated 30 years of being Desperate Men with the mighty three-day Festival of Desperation. We took over Bristol with street theatre performances and an exhibition showing three decades of our work, plus a party, cabaret and film show at the Cube Cinema.

On Sunday the festival decamped to Bristol Old Vic for a day of performances, talks and discussions. We also worked with eight young and emerging artists to help them create shows for the festival, some of which have subsequently been commissioned by other festivals including the Winchester Hat Fair.

Here’s a selection of feedback and letters we received after the Festival:

What a brilliant bash: I’m very sorry I couldn’t attend more of it but enjoyed meeting so many old (and less old!) muckers Friday night and Sat. afternoon/evening. The Desperate History Exhibition was extraordinary: there was stuff in there I’d forgotten and stuff I’d never seen: an enormously impressive archive of terrific and precociously varied work. I’m proud to have played a very small part in a most honourable undertaking (I mean, being Desperate occasionally), and very glad and happy to have been able to Angelise the Evening of Fragile Reality. Thanks for it all. You really are a continuing inspiration.

Ric Jerrom, Natural Theatre Company

Well done and what a great weekend! I have received lots of reports back from friends who were wandering around Bristol over the weekend and they all experienced Desperate acts and thought it was really great. I think the whole city felt strange and twitchy and edgy throughout the festival and people really noticed which is fabulous.

Claire Teasdale, Bristol City Council

A truly fandabbydozy weekend and true to the spirit of us all!

Ian Smith, Mischief La Bas

Bloody brilliant.

Paschale Straiton, Artistic Director, Red Herring Productions

Thank you so much for a wonderful weekend, I am now recovered from aching stomach muscles and have flushed from my body the slight over-indulgence of Guinness. Well done to all of you for your hard work and generosity in putting together an unforgettable few days.

Laura @ Belle Tents

Wonderful weekend. I had such a lovely time.

Ned, Creature Feature

Thank you all. It was wonderful! Desperately hoping for an annual event?

Cathy Peace, SWANK

It was an absolute pleasure, and we’ve posted up our street show on youtube.

Roy Hutchins

Thank you. You are all Stars and yes please lets do more …

Bec Applebee

Aaaaah!!! Yeahhh!

Kevin Dennis

It was a wonderful event and I am very happy to be part of the cabaret. I was very overwhelmed to be there among my very dear and old friends and colleagues.

Angela de Castro

Many thanks for all your hard work last weekend. We had a ball in the Bear Pit and at the parties afterwards.

Clare Thomson, Hurt Club

I had a great time at the festival and thank you and the team. Come and do it in Amsterdam!

Rob Hahn

What an utterly fabtastic Fest it was! Well, I had a great time seeing the best of the Streets, so thanks a load Desps!

Jo Smith

I had a great time. Lovely to see some old friends and to see all of you having a ball. WELL DONE! Here’s to the next 30 …

Jenny Sanderson / Bocadalupa

Thanks for photo of silly cake, and thanks for being so desperate for so long and so brilliantly. I didn’t realise the immensity of the cannon of work and I really felt wistful (and delighted, intrigued, entertained and envious) to see all that hilarity in the exhibition and to know that I had missed it all – off being busy and oblivious. I hope you could sense all the love and admiration from everybody at the festival. It was a real treat and thanks to everybody who made it so.

Maria, The World Famous

Cheers Desperates! You pulled off a fantastic event that was of course very special. Great to see a wonderful bunch of folk in one place and celebrate a mighty 30 years. Had a ball, had a blast.

Dave ID, Splott Bros

Was a wonderful weekend. The shows were fantastic and the enthusiasm of so many to take part a testament to your artistic influence and inspiration. I will wear my Desperate Artist badge with pride.

Neil Butler, UZ Limited

Thanks to you guys for a truly brilliant weekend!

Rosa Gracie Spoon

A fantastic festival – thanks a lot. Really enjoyed being part of it.

Sameena Zahra, Utter Nonsense Theatre

A huge thank you for inviting me to your wonderful birthday party. The only failure was a lack of desperation – everyone seemed so full of joy and hope!!! It was a gas, a ball, a trip, a hoot and a timely occasion to catch up with an amazing peer group all hanging in there with varying levels of desperation.

Rowan Wylie

Thank you all so much for an amazing weekend we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Lemmings Theatre

Was humbled and delighted to be a tiny part of the EMPIRE of Delight that is Desperate Men – hopefully all that warmth and good-feel factor that was overflowing at the weekend will keep you all buoyant and dimpled for a few more years.

Jo Bousfield / Theatre Officer Glos City Council

Thanks so much for the invitation to contribute to such an amazing event. I am sure this weekend will be remembered by many for a long, long time. Thanks for your inspiration and thoughtfulness in bringing it all together, and here’s to another 30 years!

Kyra Norman

Thanks for a lovely time, was proud to be part of it.

Annabel Holland, Frenetic

Just to say what a fabulous time the Fest of Desp was, although it seemed to fly by! Thanks for the opportunity to show Horse and for looking after us all so well. Here’s to next one!!

Flick Ferdinando Artistic Director, Company FZ

Great weekend – and lovely to see all our crinkly faces! As I like to say, our hysterical is becoming historical.

Ian Smith

What a lovely weekend! Lots of my favourite people from past and present – just gorgeous. Thanks all and thanks Desperates.

Kim Tilbrook

Thanks to each and everyone for being there, and thanks to Jon B, Richard, Richie, Ursula, Liz, Emily, Ben and all the ones I have not mentioned, and who have put so much heart in getting it together. This Festival will remain the best event I took part to this year. Yes, despite of the little financial help you received you succeeded at organizing a festival based on Artists, people, communication and inter-activities. And it was not surprising to see on the “Festival Plazza” so many people meeting, talking, exchanging, a true platform of human response to the coldness of this market economy era that dominates our lives. Yes, I think that the amount of genuine community work and positive vibrations you have spread around you showed up during those few days on the faces of the people I met there, young and old: sharing, being together, celebrating life and arts rather than wars, money, right wing politics and fanatical religious beliefs. A good society is a society where all people, small and big, young and old, dare going out again and share with one another the infinite possibilities that the street can offer, a fair society where young people are allowed to squat and provocate speculators, a society that take cares of all. Plus, we were so proud and happy to be invited to perform there and to receive such a true feedback from everyone. Bravo, thanks again, and please keep on the good work in cultural and social Bristol! Au revoir!

Daniel Rovai

A fantastic weekend was had by all, Daniel I couldn’t put it in such eloquent words but wholeheartedly agree, so glad I went for the full experience … old Vic an’ all …

Tina Banks

A good time was had by all. Been walking ’round with my “artist” wristband like a saddo all week.

Tall Paul

Back home safe & sound. Totally exhausted, lost voice, but all lovey’d up after an amazing w/e of Desperation in Bristol. Lovely to see all you lovely lovies – well done to all involved. Thanks for an unforgettable time.

Linda Carel

That was fab, I had so much fun. Thank you very much.

Imogen Pettitt

Bet you must be completely wiped out from all the shenanigans. But smiling with a stack of wonderful memories. What a great night and from the bits I saw, great weekend. Well done y’all.


Fantastic weekend thank you Desperates – the sheer number of artists and performers who wanted to join in, the 300 sparklers and exploding cake said it all. The shows were fantastic and the enthusiasm of so many to take part a testament to your artistic influence and inspiration. I will wear my Desperate Artist badge with pride.

Neil Butler, Director UZ Events

Thanks so much for the invitation to contribute to such an amazing event. I am sure this weekend will be remembered by many for a long, long time. Thanks for your inspiration and thoughtfulness in bringing it all together, and here’s to another 30 years!

Kyra Norman

ACTS OF DESPERATION (BRISTOL) – Young and emerging artists

Thank you so much for having our post van as part of the Festival of Desperation. We had such wonderful time. It was a really exciting and inspiring weekend and we are so appreciative of the support and encouragement that everyone gave. It was amazing to have the opportunity to develop our piece with an audience and talk to people about it and get feedback. Hopefully we can build on this. I loved seeing your exhibition and the footage of your work and the talk and performances on Sunday were brilliant! Quite a mix. I feel very lucky to have been part of it.

Alice Ellerby, Jilted Pig

Me and Denise wanted to thank you and the desperate men for a brilliant weekend and for helping us make a piece that we hope to use again in the future. Still on a high. It was really great. We had an amazing time with our toilet piece and have a piece of work we will use in future thanks to you guys. We thought the festival was brilliant!

Carly Etherington

Thanks so much for all your help with my shows, and for the opportunity to be involved! I had such a brilliant time at the festival, think it was an amazing event and I’m really glad to have been a part of it. Hope you all enjoyed the weekend. Please let me know if you need any help with future projects.

Eleanor Fogg

Thank you for selecting me to be involved with your festival of desperation, I very much enjoyed myself and generated lots of rich material.

Becky Hall

I’ve been banging on to everyone I meet about how good the cabaret was. It was the best event I’ve been to in a very long time. Can it happen every week please?

Kid Carpet

I had a great time volunteering on the Friday of the festival, I had a lot of fun! I just wanted to pass on the comments I had from people. I was stewarding on the Post De Resistance van. One of the students we coerced into the back of the van asked me afterwards if there was a petition she could sign! She said she thought it was a brilliant way of raising awareness about the post offices closures! I also had a guy come out saying it was the most amazing experience of his life and another say it was the most bizarre experience of his!! Needless to say everyone that went in a little bit unsure at what I was trying to get them to do came out having loved it! Shame I didn’t go in myself!! I did tell the girls at the time what comments I was getting but feel free to relay this message to them.

Rachel Groom, volunteer

On behalf of Bristol Old Vic, I just wanted to say that it was a pleasure to be a part of this event. There was a great feeling of warmth and generosity to it all, and I’m glad we were able to facilitate some of that. Great that it was so lively here. You must be moved by the gathering you made. And, quite frankly, knackered.

Kate Yedigaroff, Bristol Old Vic

Thanks for an excellent event last week. It seemed to be very well attended. Thanks also to all your team for being such a pleasure to work with.

Brendan Tate, CoExist/Hamilton House

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