Hijinx Launches Unity Festival 2022

Pioneering Theatre, Dance, Comedy, Cabaret, Film & Street Theatre Pop-Ups

16 June - 2 July 2022
Cardiff – Bangor – Llanelli – Online

Hijinx’s Unity Festival is one of Europe’s largest inclusive and disability arts festivals and the only one of its kind in Wales. Its long-awaited return marks its 10th edition and to celebrate, a bumper programme is set to delight audiences across Wales and beyond! Unity Festival, brought to you by Hijinx, one of Europe’s leading inclusive theatre companies, presents a diverse programme that is jam-packed with over 100 events across 17 days that will span Cardiff (Wales Millennium Centre, Porters, Chapter and The Hayes) Bangor (Pontio) and Llanelli (Ffwrnes) from 16 June to 2 July 2022. Several performances will be available to enjoy livestreamed or on demand via a new digital platform called Hijinx Mobile, in partnership with Spain’s Escena Mobile, which will be accessible via the Hijinx website.

Hijinx’s Artistic Director and curator of the Unity Festival, Ben Pettitt-Wade said:

“We are thrilled to be re-launching the Unity Festival in Wales this year and after a five-year hiatus we are going to be back better than ever! Get ready for lots of exciting theatre, dance, comedy, film, street theatre pop-ups and a new hybrid production. It will be a spectacular showcase of outstanding art in all forms by performers who are learning disabled and/or autistic and will feature acts from Wales, UK, throughout Europe and beyond.” 

Hijinx’s Associate Artist, Richard Newnham said:

"I believe what works about the Unity Festival is that it showcases the magnificent talent that the general public might otherwise be unaware of. Where better to see a wide array of talented actors, comedians and dancers on such a diverse and international level."

Unity Festival will once again be bringing together some of the best inclusive and disability arts and theatre from around the world to showcase right here in Wales, including About Face, Avant Cymru with Ill-Abilities, Cheryl Beer, Compagnie DK-BEL, Danza Mobile, Drag Syndrome, House of Deviant, Kitsch & Sync, l'Oiseau-Mouche, Mind The Gap, Ramshacklicious, Solidarity of Hope Collective, Splatch Arts, Stop Gap, Taking Flight and tanzbar_bremen. Hijinx’s own productions; Rock Cliché, Grumpy Unicorns, The Astronauts will be making an appearance alongside some exciting new performances from the Hijinx Academy and PAWB groups. There will also be a second chance to see Hijinx’s brand-new hybrid theatre experience, the_crash.test, following its premiere in May, plus a mixture of free, ticketed and online events to engage with, ensuring people can participate in the fun in-person as well as from home, across the world.

Ben Pettitt-Wade explained:

“The digital platform will include a programme of recorded and live streamed content from our own Hijinx Unity Festival and the Escena Mobile Festival in Seville. But it will be more than a space to see the work of both festivals, it will also be a network which will enable audiences to leave comments and interact with one another and the artists involved. It is something completely new for our event and we are very excited to share a flavour of our festivals with new audiences and create an accessible option for those who may not be able to attend in person.” 

The festival kicks off in Cardiff 16 - 26 June before touring to Bangor’s Pontio 28 - 29 June, then Llanelli’s Ffwrnes 1-2 July, with a special programme of satellite events at each location.

Opening the festival in high spirits on 16 June will be a brand-new Comedy Night in Porters, Cardiff. Assembled by Hijinx’s Associate Artist Richard Newnham, the evening will feature Wales’ Dan Mitchell (“Absolutely brilliant” Ross Noble) plus Juliana Heng (Malaysia), Sha Rita (USA), Chiron Barron (Canada).

The festivities will then move to Cardiff’s Chapter Arts Centre for the Unity Festival’s inaugural Film Festival 20 - 21 June. Showcasing some of the best, recent, inclusive film work from Wales, the UK, and internationally, this festival-within-a-festival will mix features, shorts, premieres, panel discussions and more. Traveling versions of the Film Festival will also visit Bangor and Llanelli. The full schedule of films and events will be published later in May.

Between 22 - 26 June, the Wales Millennium Centre will be host to free events in the foyer, including a new production with Hijinx Academies and Kitsch & Sync collective which involves human hamsters and zorb balls! Ticketed events will take place in the Weston Studio including the hotly anticipated return of Danza Mobile, one of Europe’s most successful inclusive dance companies who present a playful look of what makes us, us, in El festín de los cuerpos.

There is also a haunting, topical, and political piece by Vero Cendoya Dance Company, whose compelling, dance-theatre epic BOGUMER (or Children of Lunacharsky) explores the dynamics of power, set in Moscow in 1919.

Hijinx’s newest work the_crash.test, is a thought-provoking, funny and visually immersive delight set not-too-far in the future. Incorporating motion capture puppetry, large scale projection and original composition, the_crash.test presents an inclusive cast of performers on stage and via video link, designed for audiences both in-person and online.

The finale of the Cardiff showcase coincides with the end of Mencap’s Learning Disability Week, so Hijinx are teaming up with Mencap Cymru to bring you Drag Syndrome (& friends); the ground-breaking, internationally acclaimed drag collective featuring highly addictive drag Queens and Kings with Down’s syndrome. Cardiff’s own House of Deviant will be supporting this performance.

On Saturday 25 June, there will be free street theatre pop-ups in the (hopefully!) glorious sunshine on The Hayes. Artists confirmed so far include Hijinx’s Rock Cliché, The Astronauts and Grumpy Unicorns; Mind the Gap, About Face, Avant Cymru, tanzbar_bremen, and Danza Mobile.

Disability Arts Cymru and Hijinx have also commissioned a new piece of disability art to be performed as part of the Unity Festival. After receiving several high-quality proposals, Hijinx are thrilled to announce Solidarity of Hope have been selected, and they can’t wait to see what they create. Led by Rachel Gadsden and Helen Roeten, the project will engage with 10 Wales based disabled artists to create an event which will be part of the Hijinx programme in Llanelli and online.

More acts and artists and the full schedule for all venues will be announced in the next few weeks.

For more information, please visit: www.hijinx.org.uk/unity2022
Social media: @hijinxtheatre #Unity10