Glastonbury 2004: There's more to Glasto than the music! 26 September 2004
Glastonbury Festival is a unique experience and it is it's emphasis on performance art and comedy, as well as the music, that really sets it apart from the more commercial festivals.
VF go exploring
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You could spend the entire weekend in the Theatreand Circus fields and still not see all the comedians, circus acts, dancers and just plain eccentrics that perform there. The obligatory jugglers and drummers are in abundance around the fields, along with all manner of street performers. Meanwhile in the Big Tops, African dancers, poets, trapeze artists and famous comedians all add to the eclectic nature of this festival. Dramatic shows with music, fireworks, extravagant costumes and incredible props round off the programming each night.
VF donned their fairy wings and took a stroll around the sheer spectacle and insanity of these fields. The Glebelands Theatre Field is once again crowned by Anne Harris' stunning inflatables, a dragon, a wizard and many colourful cones which are lit up after dark. The Theatre Marquee hosts a variety of shows with everything from a Zimbabwean dance troop, to amazing feats of acrobatics, to improvisational comedy. Even actor Dudley Sutton gets in on the act, reading his poetry and entertaining the audience with stories about his life as an actor. Around the field there are endless street performers continuously playing out their strange and fascinating acts. Here you can learn to juggle, join in a huge drumming workshop or wander among strange inflatable creatures. A druid leads his group of standing stones slowly across the field, followed by a sinister black horse. Four kangaroos lounge on the grass taking a break, before bouncing away, the females with babies in their pouches and the males with bizarre furry testicles! Big Rory, a 10ft Scottish stiltwalker in kilt, strolls across the grounds with his equally tall wife and enormous pram, complete with baby. There is a 'confessional' for those who may need to repent of their sins and several times a day Creature Features Gorillas are let out into their enclosure with a keeper, to be poked and prodded by endless inquisitive children.
The Dance/ Fire Stage at the other corner of the field offers an impressive, diverse range of dance shows, including a 24ft Praying Mantis who as part of show Helios - The Saga of a Thousand Suns, opens a ballet of fabulous stilt dancers. Spectacular fire shows crown the performances each night.
East Holts Theatre Field is the place to go for a good laugh. The Cabaret Marquee offers a huge range of comedians and poets. Well known acts like Jeff Green, Phil Kay and Jerry Sadowitz mix with newer names, while Glasto favourite Woody Bop Muddy closes the events with his 'Record Graveyard'. We caught Attila the Stockbroker, at one of his many performances around the festival this weekend, performing some of his hilarious poems and comical songs. The marquees provide a welcome (and dry) place to sit and relax and enjoy some of the wackier aspects of the festival.
The Circus Field provide us with even more dramatic acrobatics, death defying feats, clowning and ridiculous installations, both in the Big Top and across the field. The sheer extravagance and skill of these shows just seems to develop each year and now they are breathtaking, something that most of us would never normally experience. The ever popular Miniscule of Sound is still providing festival goers with the chance to experience the smallest nightclub in the world. The performance stage plays host to the half naked chef, who takes the piss out of the many famous TV chefs and also manages to humiliate several audience members. Around East Holts ground an enormous factory installation is in operation in the afternoons, melting down empty beer cans. Accidents, strikes and general destruction are an obligatory part of this piece of insane performance art by The Madagascan Institute. The Big Wheel offers a stunning view across the whole site from the corner of this field.
The Kidz Field is a brightly painted and decorated area, with facilities and activities for all ages.It really emphasises how Glastonbury is a family festival, with somthing for everyone regardless of age. Performers, storytellers, puppeters and clowns keep the small ones amused and give parents a welcome rest. Tiny tots have their own special area with a huge sandpit, playground and library. Craft workshops using recycled materials and face painting are also offered in this area, while rides and extravagant climbing frames give children a chance to burn off some energy.
These fields seem a world away from the Pyramid and Other stages. The whole experience here is more laid back, colourful and just plain weird and is an unmissable part of the Glastonbury experience.