Carnival Collectors and The Memory Machine, 2013

On the 26th and 27th of March 2013 The Carnival Archive Project teamed up with exciting new theatre company Fit To Burst to create a show all about carnivals and the power of memory for Northampton school children. The show featured 3 scientists trying to capture carnival memories and the carnival spirit in their specially designed Memory Machine. In order to do this the audience had to shout out curious noises but this overloaded the machine and the memories escaped! Traditional carnival characters from both English and Caribbean carnivals, including Jack In The Green, The Midnight Robber, Sailors, a Carnival Queen and Pierrot Grenade; emerged to tell their stories and set the record straight about what carnival really is.  Many of the characters were based directly on memories and stories gathered by the Carnival Archive Project.

The play also looked at the ancient roots of carnival, including the Dionysus Festival and the celebrations for the Roman goddess Flora. In addition it showed how Carnival was used by immigrants from the Caribbean to combat the racism and prejudice they faced upon arriving in England in the 1940s and 50s.

Workshops were held before the performance where school children got to make parts of the costumes of their favourite characters.

The show was a real success and helped to bring to life the concept of an archive to school children. Many of the carnival characters are not very well known but are an important part of our history so this was a great way to share them with the children. At the end of the final performance all the school children were up on their feet dancing and waving their costumes in the air.

Actors in photographs: Emile J Clarke, Nadia Nadif and Edward Day.

Directed by: Rebecca Tortora.

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