Remembering the 2012 Battle for the Winds
In 2012 a theatrical event, called the Battle for the Winds, was created to mark the opening celebrations of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Sailing events. This was its website.
Content is from the site's archived pages as well as from other outside sources.
Enjoy the look back to this extraordinary event.
A unique theatrical event to mark the opening celebrations of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Sailing events (July 26th-28th). Unprecedented in scale, it tells the story of an heroic quest to free the winds for the sailing contests. Aeolus, Father of the Winds, calls for all the winds of the South West to be brought to Weymouth to help the Olympic sailors. In response to his call, seven teams of Wind Gatherers from each region of the South West have begun gathering the winds, telling tales as they go. Their only fear is that stone-hewn Doldrum will stand in their way...
Thousands of professional and community artists from across the seven counties of the South-West and beyond will help to tell the tale, which starts in April 2012 in Lyme Regis, travels throughout the South West and culminates in an unforgettable three-day outdoor performance in Weymouth and Portland. Will the heroic Wind Gatherers succeed in their battle to unshackle the winds and release them in time for the Olympic sailors to harness them?
Footage from the Battle for the Winds and Fire Torch Waders on Weymouth Beach, July 28th 2012.
The Barnardo’s Revolutions project will be delivered with the Battle for the Winds creative team and locally in partnership with Celebrating Somerset, Cirque Bijou, Bridgwater Education Trust, Behavioral Improvement Programme, Bridgwater Arts Centre, and Thrive. The Mayor of Bridgwater has chosen the project as his annual charity.
The project is for 10 young people working with two experienced project leaders and artists. The young people will also be able to gain a Silver Arts Award working on the project. The project is about practical skills and imagination and is particularly apt for Bridgwater with its tradition of illuminated carnival combining technical skill and visual creativity. Skills learnt will include design, welding, cycle technology, sustainable technology, lighting planning.
The project will run from Jan to July 2012. The project will centre on the creation of cycle-powered and human powered devices for a sequence of three events during that year, a finale show in Bridgwater Marina on March 24th, a parade and performance as part of the Olympic Torch event in Taunton on May 21st, the Battle for the Winds 26th to 28th July in Weymouth and Portland.
The project is designed to give young people an opportunity to learn transferable skills, to open up new career opportunities in the arts, and to gain additional accreditation through the Arts Award scheme, to be delivered by Bridgwater Arts Centre.
This project will build on the existing model that Barnardo’s has been successfully developing through Revolutions, an innovative mobile teaching and design and build space working in the South West. It will replace the mechanics module with set, costume and prop design, delivered by local artists in Somerset.
The Battle for the Winds show is being created from an original concept developed in 2007 by Desperate Men and Cirque Bijou as a response to the Legacy Trust call for commissions to create a region wide project for the Cultural Olympiad.
The project is rooted in universal stories like the Odyssey and Arthurian legends. It is about challenge and trial, the challenges that we face as individuals and communities in order to meet our aspirations. This reflects the challenge inherent in the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games – the challenge and trial that athletes engage with in seeking to become the best in the world. By sharing the challenges that matter to us we also reflect on and celebrate our culture.
In essence we are using the connections between the Olympic sailing events, the need for wind, and classical Greek myths and legends as our starting point. In the Odyssey adverse winds are restrained within a leather bag and part of the story relates how they were unwittingly released with dire consequences for Odysseus and his crew. From this we are bridging ideas to connect to stories of the South West using the themes of wind, breath, air and voice as the common threads.
2022 Observations and Rememberances
I have just returned from England and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant. It was magnificent. My father's family live in in the UK. I have traveled back and forth from the US with my father ever since I was little. But because of his age and other health issues. plus the new Covid variant, he regretfully decided that he would not come this year with me. It was very disappointing for all of us. But I was there taking loads of video and pics to share when I returned.
The past three years has been quite stressful for a number of reason. Covid 19 ravaging across the world. In the US we are revisiting the 2020 insurrection via the Jan 6 Hearings. Our country is more politically estranged than ever. The more one learns about Trump's and his GOP operatives plan to remain in power after he lost the election, the more depressing it becomes. I also had to deal with my father's increasing use of alcohol. Fortunately I was able to find what turns out to be an effective treatment via the LifeBAC program using medication to stop drinking by addressing the urge to drink. Instead of labeling my father an alcohol and deeming alcoholism a disease, that assumes certain people are innately prone to it and thus have no control over it other than complete abstinence, LifeBAC empowers the person by offering them two options to quell their cravings for alcohol. By allowing a person to set their own goals and to move forward at their own pace while offering unlimited access to LifeBACs vast array of tools, online support group, and LifeBac guides to help shape the journey, I believe the result is that those who choose the program are much more motivated for it to be successful. My father started out on a medication called Baclofen that is not only a popular, but also successful treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) in France and Australia. He started at a low dose which was slowly increase until the optimum dosage was achieved. His craving to drink diminished to the point that he sometimes did not drink all day. Now when he has a beer, a glass of wine at dinner, or a cocktail, it doesn't lead to more and more.
Although he did not travel to England with me, we face timed during the Jubilee Pageant so he could experience the celebratory scene. That evening in my hotel room in London and he at home in NYC raised our champagne flutes to toast Queen Elizabeth's 70 years on the throne. We then got to reminiscing about other spectacular shows put on by Cirque Bijou. And sure enough, The Battle for the Winds came up. We learned about the event while on a month long holiday in the UK during 2012. My father insisted that we go. I will never forget that unforgettable three-day outdoor performance in Weymouth and Portland. It probably was a defining moment for me and why I have pursued a career in the theater.
Find out about the companies, organisations and projects that are coming together as part of Battle for the Winds, and the story behind the project.
Cirque Bijou is one of the UK’s most experienced creators of outdoor spectacle, circus and street theatre for the commercial and public sectors. The Company, set up in 1999, is led by its founding artistic directors, Billy Alwen and Julian Bracey. The artistic directors are backed up by a core team of admin and production staff and supported by regular freelance production managers, choreographers, designers, aerial riggers, stage managers and technicians. This flexible structure allows the company to deal with a number of large projects at any one time, and to work quickly to tight deadlines, on budget and for a wide range of clients, public and commercial.
It is unique in the UK of being able to switch effortlessly between delivery of artistic creations for international rock concerts, national and international events for commercial producers, and theatre shows, arts festivals and community projects - a breadth of experience that gives the company its unique edge.
In recent years the artistic directors and their teams have created experiential marketing touring and site specific shows for clients like BP, Samsung, Jack Morton Worldwide, Renault and Saab, combining multidisciplinary arts forms and working to tight deadlines and complicated briefs.
The Company also creates work that brings together large communities to celebrate local culture and history like the Brunel 200 project in Swindon. Community based projects also include work with carnival artists to create new Notting Hill style carnival processions, and with large numbers of young people through Arts Council England funded projects like Step UP and Project3Sixty.
Desperate Men is one of the UK’s most experienced artist-led outdoor arts companies, with a 30 year track record of creating original, challenging, and accessible street theatre. Desperate Men also work as creative producers, integrating ideas and concepts with practical development for arts projects across the UK. The work encompasses large scale outdoor and mid-scale street shows and indoor theatre, as well as educational and health initiatives, intercultural explorations, neighbourhood events and special projects. Recent work saw the company in Portugal, Hong Kong and Shanghai with a piece celebrating Darwin’s bicentenary.
Risk-taking and innovative, the company enjoys wide respect from peers and promoters for combining contemporary themes and topical content with a provocative, passionate yet convivial style. Through theatrical interventions and comic interaction Desperate Men connect with all sorts of people - ordinary and extraordinary - in all sorts of places.
'Breathe' is a breathtaking outdoor performance of circus, dance and cabaret where people who cannot walk will fly, wheelchairs will float, those without voices will speak and all will soar high above Weymouth. A local and international cast of disabled and non disabled performers will perform the most diverse outdoor performance the South West has ever seen.
Created by four leading disabled artists: Jamie Beddard, Alex Bulmer, Dave Toole and Mat Fraser, this unparalleled and inspirational event will explore the workings of, and assumptions around unique bodies. Local theatre groups The Remix and Double Act will join together with two Brazilian companies APAE Floripa and Estacao Duncar, Florianopolis, Brazil to create this spectacle before an audience of15,000 on Weymouth beach. The performance will tell the story of the Olympian god of wind, Aeolis, the stealing of the wind by Doldrum, it’s recapture and the releasing of the wind back to Weymouth to allow the sailing events to begin.
Organisations involved include: Cirque Bijou, Activate Performing Arts, Desperate Men, State of Emergency (dance), Diverse City, Double Act (Disability Theatre Co.), The Remix (Integrated Youth Performance Company), JAM (event production) and APAE (integrated youth dance company in Florianopolis, Brazil).
Breathe has been commissioned for Unlimited, a project celebrating disability, arts, culture and sport on an unprecedented scale as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.
The wind gatherers are a group of South West based artists who specialise in creating work for the outdoors and have been brought together by the Desperate Men and Cirque Bijou to help them create a unique large scale outdoor theatre project for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. The wind gatherers include a lead creative team and artistic collaborators in each county in the region, who are gathering artists, stories, music and sounds to animate processional vessels which will be arriving in Weymouth and Portland, in July 2012.
Since joining Desperate Men in 1995 Richard's performance work includes Darwin and the Dodo, An Oak Tree (Tim Crouch), The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Lighthouse, Sequins and Sawdust (Cirque Bijou) and Rick, Dick and Vic. He has created many outdoor shows including Dancing Bear Cheese, The Eco Pirates and Kippered In.
He also provided creative leadership for The Severn Project (2006-09), coordinated the 'What If' training project, toured with 'The Fat Cat Floorshow' cabaret, community touring at The Wyvern Theatre (Swindon), pantomime at The Wilde Theatre (Bracknell), and devised shows for The Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood.
Billy co-founded Cirque Bijou in 1999 and has performed in, produced and devised numerous commercial, private and public shows. This includes four circus and street theatre collaborations with the Desperate Men, Sequins and Sawdust 1 & 2, Seven, and the recent Harbour Festival Pirate show. He has also been responsible for creating launch shows for some of the largest retail developments in the UK (Leicester Highcross, Liverpool One, Victoria Square Belfast, Eldon Square Newcastle and Cardiff St Davids2), and working with his co-director Julian Bracey on rock and roll shows for Mika and Muse.
He has also developed two CPD programmes for young people working outdoors (Step Up and Revolutions), both of which are supporting the development of work for Battle for the Winds.
Co-founded Cirque Bijou in 1999. Has a degree in 3 dimensional design, toured a successful international one man street show, taught acrobalance at Circomedia circus school and drama in Horfield prison. Has a fascination in pyrotechnics and video design. Has produced, performed in, set fire to numerous shows in the public, commercial and private sector.
Recently he has been experimenting with video mapping, break dancers, free runners, and lunatics on mountain bikes
Co-founder of Desperate Men in 1980. Actor, Director, Musician. Learnt his trade in street theatre, improvisation and outdoor events with jazz musicians, dancers and companies including Footsbarn, Friends Roadshow and Mummerandada all over Europe and beyond. Worked as director and actor in Portugal, and Chapito (Lisbon), and has directed, written and performed in all DM shows since 1980. He was instrumental in founding NASA (National Association of Street Artists) and played piano for Vivian Stanshall's very last tour. He believes that street theatre can change the world – or at least, that it’s worth a try….
Sarah Dicks is a MA Costume Student and is interested in all aspects of design for theatre and performance including costume, set and puppetry. She recently graduated from the Arts University College Bournemouth at the top of her class with a BA (Hons) in Costume with Performance Design. She also recently designed costumes for the show "Under the Concrete, Waiting" which premiered at the Arts Educational Schools London in July 2011.
The costume design work is in progress, with lead designer Sarah Dicks, a current masters student at Arts University College Bournemouth, heading up a team of design students from AUCB.
Sarah has been travelling across the region talking to core artists and the artistic directors, to start creating the 39 costume designs for the main show, which include designs for Doldrum, Aeolus, Lips and the seven wind gatherers.
She has also been collaborating with each of the seven areas of the South West to create unique costumes for their individual episodes that will work together as an ensemble. Sarah loves designing for performances that destroy the idea of the fourth wall, including site-specific and interactive theatre. She is interested in all aspects of design for theatre and performance including costume, set and puppetry. She is currently studying for an Master of Arts Degree in Costume in Performance Design and recently graduated from the Arts University College Bournemouth at the top of her class in BA (Hons) Costume with Performance Design.
There will also be a total of 77 students from the Arts University College Bournemouth will be helping to make the costumes.
Michael has designed the sets and costumes for over 160 theatre and opera productions both in the UK and abroad including those he has directed.
Companies he has worked with include: The Royal Shakespeare Company; The National Theatre; The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; English National Opera; Glyndebourne Festival Opera; Opera North; English Touring Opera: De Vlaamse Opera, Antwerp; Los Angeles Opera; New Zealand International Art's Festival; Galaxy Theatre, Tokyo; Warsaw Globe Theatre Company; Munich Biennalle: Lyric Hammersmith; Almeida Theatre; Manchester Royal Exchange; West Yorkshire Playhouse; Sheffield Crucible; Liverpool Playhouse; Nottingham Playhouse; Bristol Old Vic; Plymouth Theatre Royal; Edinburgh Royal Lyceum; Bolton Octagon; Oldham Coliseum; Manchester Library Theatre; Salisbury Playhouse; Colchester Mercury Theatre; The Royal Festival Hall; The Queen Elizabeth Hall; English Touring Theatre; Battersea Arts Centre; Told By An Idiot and Kneehigh Theatre Company.
His work has been nominated for two Olivier Awards; a Charrington Fringe First Award; an Irish Times Theatre Award and a Manchester Evening News Theatre Award.
The stage design for Battle for the Winds is being lead by Michael Vale and early ideas involve eight mini stage representing the eight point of the compass and the eight winds we are gathering to bring to Weymouth and Portland.
Poet and creator of Wind Words
Alice Oswald trained as a classicist and lives in Devon. Her first collection of poetry - The Thing in the Gap-Stone Stile (1996) - won a Forward Poetry Prize (Best First Collection) in 1996, and was Alice Oswald trained as a classicist and lives in Devon. Her first collection of poetry - The Thing in the Gap-Stone Stile (1996) - won a Forward Poetry Prize (Best First Collection) in 1996, and was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize in 1997.
Her second collection is Dart (2002), telling the story of the River Dart, won the T. S. Eliot Prize in 2002. In 2004, Alice Oswald was named as one of the Poetry Book Society's 'Next Generation' poets. Her collection, Woods etc. (2005) was shortlisted for the Forward Poetry Prize (Best Poetry Collection of the Year) and the T. S. Eliot Prize. In 2007, her poem 'Dunt' won the Forward Poetry Prize (Best Single Poem). Her latest books are Weeds and Wild Flowers (2009), illustrated by Jessica Greenman, and A Sleepwalk on the Severn (2009), a poem for several voices.
Peter Oswald is a well-known English playwright. He is married to the poet Alice Oswald, with whom he has three children. They live in Devon, South West England.
He was writer-in-residence at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre (London) for whom he wrote three new plays. He is currently Playwright-in-Residence at the Finborough Theatre (London).
Tim currently works with the Galway based theatre co Macnas and has been musical director for shows by Welfare State International, Liverpool Lantern Co, Desperate Men and many more. He runs the street band Tongues of Fire and co-leads Rag and Bone a company pioneering a number of approaches to outdoor performance - building processional devices and great beasts from recycled materials, creating music for landscapes and urban spaces, and devising sonic playgrounds and giant musical instruments. He also plays with the Mellstock band, appearing in many film, television and radio productions including the recent BBC Tess of the D’urbeyvilles and the classic Pride and Prejudice.
Director - Breathe
Image not found: /web/20120423212124im_/http://battleforthewinds.com/images/made/uploads/people_images/Jamie_Beddard_120_72_70.jpg Fatal error: Stage width or height is too small to show the gallery. Traced measures: width:700px, height: 28px. Jamie has worked as a professional actor for twenty years he combines this with a freelance portfolio that includes – directing, writing, training and governance. He has been Associate Director of Graeae Theatre Company, and editor of ‘Disability Arts in London’ magazine. TV/film acting credits include Skalligrigg, Quills, All the King’s Men, Wonderful You, Common As Muck and The Egg, theatre credits include Waiting For Godot, Ubu, Volpone, The Fly and Carrie’s War.
Writer - Breathe
Alex has been working as an artist, voice coach and playwright for fifteen years. Canadian born, she is founder and artistic director of SNIFF, one of Canada’s leading companies artistically led by disabled people. Alex has written for stage, radio and television and earned nominations of excellence for both playwriting and radio production. (Her play Smudge was selected as critic's choice by Time Out magazine). Alex most recently co wrote Cast offs for Channel 4.
Choreographer - Breathe
After training at the Laban Centre, Dave began touring both nationally and internationally as a dancer with companies such as DV8 and CandoCo to much acclaim. Dave also works as an actor appearing in theatre including ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ (Graeae), Sarah Kane’s ‘Blasted’ in the West End and most recently as a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company in ‘I’ll Be The Devil’ at The Tricycle. His film credits include ‘The Tango Lesson’ (Sally Potter) and ‘Amazing Grace’ (Michael Apted) and he appeared in the HBO TV series ‘Rome’.
Actor and Cabaret Lead - Breathe
Mat is an award winning disabled film television and stage actor, comedian, writer, composer, singer, sideshow artist, performance artist, drummer. Mat recently appeared in Channel 4's groundbreaking show about disability 'Cast Off's'.;
Artistic Director - Breathe
Image not found: /web/20120509054923im_/http://battleforthewinds.com/images/made/uploads/people_images/Claire_Hodgson_67_100_70.jpg Fatal error: Stage width or height is too small to show the gallery. Traced measures: width:700px, height: 28px. Claire lives in Dorset and is Chief Executive of Diverse City, a social enterprise in the Performing Arts. Claire is also the Artistic Director of The Remix, an inclusive performance company for young people. She was previously Head of Performing Arts at London Metropolitan University and Course Leader in Performing Arts, Coleg Harlech, University of Wales.
Producer - 'The Search for Doldrum's Lair'
Lorna is a Producer for Activate Performing Arts. Lorna grew up in Dorset but left to train at the Central School of Speech and Drama. She’s worked in theatres all over London (including The Royal Court, Greenwich Theatre and The National) often as the Education & Community Manager. She moved home to Dorset in 2006 and ever since she’s been working for Activate whose core aim is to make more high quality theatre, dance and outdoor events happen in Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole. Lorna is also co-artistic director of Gobbledegook Theatre who create work with and for children
The Wind Gathering Vessels
Vessels to gather the winds from across the South West are being designed and built by a fantastic array of artists and makers.
Makers include Will Datson from the West of England, Marc Parrett working in Dorset, Mike Patison in Devon, Stoud College in Gloucestershire, and Dave Young and Tarn Aitken working in Somerset
The vessels will be collecting winds, stories, iconic objects, and sounds particular to each part of the region in April and May 2012.
The vessels will then gather in Weymouth and Portland on the 26th July, sailed by their ensemble of wind gatherers, and bringing the winds to Weymouth beach to help launch the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games sailing events.
Wiltshire - Jacob Hirsch-Holland
The search for Swindon's soul
We will create a spectacular outdoor performance that seeks to capture the wind/soul of Swindon, through stories and memories which are captured in a magnificent machine. The machine will be revealed as the Finale for the Big Arts Day 2012 in a unique urban circus styled show. It will be launched on its journey to join the other south west winds in Weymouth for the opening of the Olympic sailing events.
The Gathering & Ceremony of the Winds - 26th July 2012
Throughout the day, the wind gatherers and their vessels, impossibly tasked with netting the breezes of the southwest, arrive in Weymouth and Portland to present their winds to Aeolus.
The Search for Doldrums Lair - 27th July 2012
Doldrum's lair can be found at the atmospheric High Angle Battery on the Isle of Portland. Around 35 young dancers from Portland will be part of a rolling performance, every half hour on July 27th. They cannot speak as Doldrum has stolen their voices. The Battery will reverberate with local stories, and tales of Doldrum himself and how he has stolen the wind….
The beautiful Cretaceous Silver Studded Blue butterfly is unique to Portland. To celebrate the extraordinary butterfly we are going to make 2,692 individual silver studded blue butterflies with the local community, each butterfly will represent every young person 18 and under living on Portland. The High Angle Battery, and quarries around the Island are havens for blue butterflies which, if you’re lucky, rise up in a spectacular blue ‘cloud’ as you walk through the Battery. Our own handmade butterflies are pinned to the ground, their winds stolen by the evil Doldrum....
The Final Battle - 28th July 2012
The story reaches a dramatic climax which is played out on Weymouth beach and at sea, as hundreds of artists converge on the sea front to battle Doldrum. The finale will include the spectacular 'Breathe' show on the main stage and in the air.
26-28 July will be a very busy time in Weymouth as the town gears up to take its place on the world stage, as hosts of the Olympic Sailing. It will be an exciting time to visit but we'd recommend a bit of forward planning if you are travelling to see any of our performances (for a full roundup of these, with timings and locations, visitBattles).
Access Information provided by Diverse City.
Travel and Transport
Driving in Weymouth is NOT recommended. There will be road closures in place and very few car parks available in town compared to the numbers of visitors expected. If you do need to drive, it is recommended you use the Park and Ride services provided. More info here (for visits on 26 and 27 July) and here (for visits on 28 July). Please try and car share wherever possible!
Weymouth Railway Station is a short walk from the beach (for the Final Battle show) and the street theatre and parade locations. If you are coming by train, do remember to check your return service time.
The Final Battle show will finish around 10.15pm and will be followed by the Fire Torch Wade, where 2012 people will wade into the sea with lit torches, which we think is not to be missed.
There are also bus services and extra bicycle racks for cycle parking.
www.traveldorset.org is very useful for local travel.
There is still accommodation left available in Weymouth just before the Sailing starts. www.visit-dorset.com is helpful.
Weymouth Beach Live Site
Weymouth Beach, nestled at the heart of Dorset and East Devon’s magnificent Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site hosts the Live Site, which is where the Sailing events will be screened from 29th July, and the Battle for the Winds Final Battle takes place on 28th July.
Free to enter, the Live Site overlooks the spectacular bay where the Great Britain Sailing Team will compete against the world’s top sailors for Olympic honours, and backs onto the picturesque Georgian Seafront, bustling town centre and 17th Century harbour.
The site has the capacity to entertain up to 15,000 visitors at any one time, and is standing, and completely uncovered - so please dress appropriately, bringing waterproofs and sun protection!
Isle of Portland
Doldrum's Lair takes place at the High Angle Battery, Fortuneswell, Portland, on 27 July - and you need to reserve your free tickets. The performance is family-friendly, accessible by wheelchair and completely outdoors so please dress appropriately and make sure you know what time your performance is taking place. The High Angle Battery is an atmospheric, derelict fort and offers another view on this fascinating region as well as another angle on the Battle for the Winds story.
Other Events in Weymouth and Portland
Battle for the Winds is part of London 2012 Festival and Maritime Mix, the Cultural Olympiad by the Sea, which is hosting over 80 fantastic events in the Weymouth and Dorset area this summer. Go to the Maritime Mix website to find out more and make sure you don't miss anything while you are in the area.
If your questions are not answered by the information above, please contact us!