Summer comes alive at our Midsummer Night’s Fête
By Owen Hopkins
Published 11 June 2014
Celebrate the Solstice with the RA. We’ve got blues, burlesque and barnstorming yarns for you at our very special late night event.
The Summer Solstice is always a mystical moment. The sun is at its highest point in the sky and as dusk stretches long into the night you can almost feel the magic in the air – and so it will be at the RA on the evening of 21 June, for our very first Midsummer Night’s Fête. We’re putting a contemporary spin on this British summer classic to create an unforgettable evening of events, activities and stunning performances, inspired by our Summer Exhibition and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Nostalgia maestros The Vintage Mafia are taking over our classical courtyard and transforming it into a village green from bygone eras. As you leave Piccadilly behind, you’ll be serenaded by the unique sounds of the The Candid Jug Orange Band who’ll transport you to somewhere between 1930s New York and bluesy New Orleans. Peyton & Byrne will be providing a range of sumptuous snacks and delicious drinks to keep you sustained over the evening. But for some poetic sustenance, you can head over to The Poetry Takeaway, where you can request your very own made-to-order poem and collect it – open or wrapped. The poetic theme continues with Mr Smith’s Letterpress, where you’ll be able to create placards emblazoned with verses from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Meanwhile, Vicky Butterfly will perform her own unique form of Burlesque – a bohemian fusion of classic glamour, dreams and kinetic glittering.
As you head inside, you’ll notice that our grand staircase has been transformed by a weaving of words and wool, created by pioneering graffiti knitter Whodunnknit. Pass this yarnstorming(!) sight and ascend the stairs towards the Summer Exhibition to hear the sounds of The Gabby Young Trio who’ll be playing a special set immersed within the multitude of works in the Summer Exhibition. Wandering the galleries, you may also encounter a quartet of performances artists roaming the exhibition over the evening. Their quirky take on art will ensure you never quite see the Summer Exhibition in the same way again.
From the buzz of the Main Galleries, descend into to our Victorian vaults where, amid the shadows, a Silent Disco gives you the chance to experience the surreal juxtaposition of ‘70s soul disco and ‘90s pop. Leave your dancing shoes behind and you’ll find the RA Schools Life Drawing Room. Here, surrounded by the eerie plaster casts, Art Macabre present Death Drawing – a fantastical life drawing salon complete with dark woodland creatures, fearsome faerie queens and transformed beings inspired by moments from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
There is of course much, much more: from artist bingo and fortune-telling to a stunning large-scale flower installation. But we hope this taster has whetted your appetite for an evening of revels you won’t forget in a while.
A Midsummer Night’s Fête is on 21 June 2014. Booking is essential.
Tickets are £25, including access to all activities, one free drink from premium mixer drinks company Fever-Tree and entry to the Summer Exhibition (proudly sponsored by Insight Investment).
Owen Hopkins is the Manager of the RA Architecture Programme.