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Posts tagged with 'Magical Menagerie'

Post Date

17 July 2010

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Mad Songs and Crazy Hair

It’s been two days since The Magical Menagerie opened. We’ve had VIPs galore come for a ride on the carousel – Adrian Evans, the director of the Thames Festival; the great and the good of Milton Keynes, including the Mayor and Monica Ferguson, the director of IF: Milton Keynes International Festival; and even a delegation from Senart, the town who originally commissioned the Menagerie (then known as Le Manege Carre Senart).

But what we haven’t seen thus far is a pair of Spanish street performers with crazy hair, or an operatic duo singing their lungs out in the middle of a car park. As of tomorrow, though, all that will change as Osadia (pronounced ‘Os – ah – dee –ah’) and Operaplayhouse (no, it’s not a typo) descend on The Magical Menagerie.

The selection of these two companies for our Sky Sundays’ entertainment was the result of collaboration between IF: Milton Keynes International Festival and Artichoke’s director Helen Marriage. They wanted to invite companies who were, first and foremost, fun. Helen had seen Osadia in action and thought that they were marvelous and batty and very original. Bill Gee from IF brought Operaplayhouse to the table, adding a touch of comic culture to the proceedings.

We think that they will complement each other, and the Menagerie, really well, as if we’re holding a mini-Festival in the car park! A bit smaller than Lumiere, or IF, but hopefully perfectly formed.

Do you think you’ll come along for one of the Sky Sundays? It’s a 241 deal , so what with that and all the free entertainment going on, do you really need to think about that? And to those who have already had a ride on The Magical Menagerie; what did you make of it?

Post Date

16 July 2010

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Decisions, decisions

At midday yesterday, a button was pressed, and The Magical Menagerie sprung to life. Despite the torrential rain, curious souls gathered to see what was going on inside the large red tent and before long there were crowds of people of all ages waiting for their turn.

 

Me? I did my research before my first Menagerie experience. All of the crew had to ride every creature (it’s a hard job, this) in order to tell audience members how to operate them. I was in prime position to get some top tips from these veterans:

 

- The fish, seemingly the most popular ride, are fantastic. However, if you’re not good with heights, avoid at all costs.

- The larger mammals – bison and bulls – are good for large groups of friends. Each person operates a specific part of the creature, so you can work together to really make it live. If you’re able to, take a close look at these beasts before you go on, you might be surprised by some of the, erm, detail that’s gone into the anatomy.

- The wasps and winged insects at each corner will give you a great overview of the carousel; good for people wanting to take photos from high up. But don’t forget to flap the wings!

- Finally, the smaller insects around the edges. These are delightful little contraptions. Some come with a surprising number of levers – see if you can figure out what all of them do! I’m told that the praying mantis and the insect with very long antennae are particularly cool.

 

So, those are my insider’s tips. Which one would you ride?

Post Date

13 July 2010

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How many people…

How many people does it take to make a carousel?
 
The answer is; it takes over 50 people 15 days to construct it from its component parts. When it is originally being made, it takes a team of 70 over a year.

Over the last week our team and the engineers from French company La Machine have been erecting ‘The Magical Menagerie’. It is billed as the world’s only square carousel, but in reality it’s so much more than that. There are insects, fish and even a buffalo that you can ride on – and operate – yourself. Who needs pretty ponies, eh?
 
The only catch with an event of this kind is the mammoth amount of preparation it takes to make it happen. We started work on it back in December and despite the fact that ‘The Magical Menagerie’ may already have been built, it still takes two weeks to put everything together on site… if nothing goes wrong. If you’ve been following us on Twitter or Facebook, you’ll have seen the photos of the get in. Back in the office we’ve been getting constant updates by phone:
 
“The trucks haven’t arrived yet!”
 
“The roof is going up – wow, it’s huge…”
 
“Oh! I can see a beetle!”
 
It all sounds very exciting, but I can’t wait to see the Menagerie in person. No matter how much you’ve read about something in the press, or embellished it in your imagination, nothing quite prepares you for seeing the real deal. I still remember, a week into working for Artichoke, being dropped off by a taxi outside a huge, imposing warehouse in the suburbs of Liverpool and seeing La Princess for the first time. I had spent seven days telling people how much she weighed, what she was constructed from and how tall she was going to be, and yet all those facts and figures seemed irrelevant when confronted by this enormous personality that was anything but mechanical. The clever machinery and her operators somehow faded away, and she appeared as a benign, graceful and utterly real giant spider.
 
So despite the blow-by-blow accounts we’ve received from the team, despite the incredible images we’ve received from our photographer Matthew, I know that when I see the real thing at our preview on Thursday, I will still be blown away. If one giant spider could make me cry (and not in the bad way that spiders usually do so!), what will happen when I’m faced with so many beautiful creatures, colourful in both appearance and character?
 
And that’s why you should book your tickets now…

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