A tour like no other – review of STEAM Local Line

Ideas Test Intern celebrates STEAM: Local Line, which took place at the beginning of June on the Isle of Sheppey.

With a packed out performance schedule spanning across an entire weekend, STEAM Local Line was a tour like no other.

Arriving bright and early to Barton’s Point Coastal Park, The Urban Playground Team waste no time in getting warmed up. All morning enthusiastic energy bounces around Barton’s Point and its serene, secluded fields. The incredibly generous team working the Sheppey Miniature Railway are on hand to help with any finishing touches, as is Mandy who manages Barton’s Point. UPG excel at fully integrating with each host area they visit, by inviting local students to perform a short segment. Pupils from Sheppey’s Oasis Academy and local participants are Swale’s local youth representatives, gaining invaluable professional performance experience and seeming to have great fun doing so.. This investment in local talent draws quite a crowd, who eagerly await the first performance. When the show starts, with a rousing introduction by Alister of the Urban Playground Team, the crowd are instantly enthralled.

Steam-LocalLineReview by jade

Parkour is a performance style that demands attention. It’s impossible not to be inspired. While the dance moves may be fast-paced, the unfolding of the audience’s journey with STEAM is significantly more measured. Words cannot capture the seamless transitions that UPG travel through, weaving a succession of characters into their performance pieces. The dynamic often switches between comedic and emotive elements, targeting themes such as the Wild West, James Bond and World War One. The participants provide an energetic interlude in every showing, performing with remarkable confidence having had just a week to polish their parkour routines.

The parkour workshops which follow each performance garner a multitude of enthusiastic participants. This isn’t surprising given how quick some of the younger audience members are to try and copy UPG during every show. It’s unfortunate some southeasterly showers put hold to Sunday’s workshops, but given that parkour involves such physicality means safety has to come first.

Draping the canvas back over the structure to signify the end of every show, STEAM Local Line always ends with rousing, thoroughly deserved applause. As they take a bow arm in arm with the participants, each audience is finally able to absorb the ingenuity of what they’ve just witnessed. On hand to capture and channel that immediate feedback is Daisy Farris, the Project Manager of Steam, who’s worked closely with all involved to put on an incredibly innovative and well-received event. Handfuls of audience evaluation cards are distributed during every performance and Ideas Test very gratefully receive a substantial amount of donations across the weekend, a job newly recruited Ideas Test volunteer Nathan seems to be a natural at.

If verbal feedback from the day is to be believed, then there’s nothing but positivity being shared around. Numerous comments can be heard praising UPG, all of which are completely deserving.

Read more about STEAM from Producer Daisy Farris