Arcadia’s pyrotechnics, robotics and entrancing music take centre stage as Glastonbury takes a fallow year…

Arcadia, best known for its monster reception at Glastonbury Festival, has been doing standalone events for a while now internationally but, with the Worthy Farm extravaganza taking a fallow year, the company wanted to build on the city centre Arcadia experience in London for its 10th anniversary.

“As perhaps the world’s greatest melting pot, London was the perfect place to both celebrate the 10 years with people who’d been on the journey with us from the start and to reach a whole new swathe of people – Londoners who may never go to a camping festival, and communities from the same countries we’d visited on our travels,” Dorian Cameron-Marlow, Arcadia’s technical production manager tells Access.

“At Arcadia we believe the entire event and its dynamics are important. The audience should constantly feel involved as the landscape and its energy flow are ever evolving. We find having creative input and control over the overall event dynamics allows us to play out a narrative much more clearly and keep audiences on their toes from start to finish.”

Teaming up with LWE, the company wanted to bring together all our performances and installations at one event.

“ Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park was fantastic – a real grassy oasis in the middle of East London, and London Legacy were supportive throughout. Having mid-city vibes with the grassy big blue sky and summer feeling of a festival mixed with extraordinarily good sound levels, made it the perfect choice to see in the summer,” adds Cameron-Marlow.

One highlight was the second performance in a century of an ancient Aboriginal ceremonial song – the Yallor Keeninyara. “We met the Whadjuk Noongar tribe in Perth and realised the synergies between their story of a Dreamtime Spider, who weaves a web of unity, and what our Spider seeks to do in its own cultural context.

“We began a hugely inspiring collaboration remixing the music to fuse ancient and modern while building on the rhythm of the song with technology, flames and a key moment where the audience were invited up onto the stage by the Whadjuk. It really felt like a part of history in the making.”

Add to that the launch of the brand new Reactor arena – a 360 degree indoor immersive space with lighting, lasers and performance, inspired by and mapped to, the geometry of the tent. “The Reactor gave us the opportunity to experiment with the possibilities of an indoor space, develop some pretty ambitious laser installations and test out some experimental performance pieces. This was an interesting concept as it allowed us to explore creatively a lot of the elements that don’t work on the spider, moving in different directions as Arcadia’s theatrical style keeps evolving.”

And, the Metamorphosis show – billed as the ultimate Arcadia experience – united all Arcadia’s most potent theatrical and technological elements into a story of transformation. “Before working closely with the headliners on key moments we could build tech sequences and SFX to really take the musical experience into a visceral 3-dimensional realm,” he adds.

“On the spider, the biggest challenge would be incorporating so many different technologies in such a tight space. Ensuring all different forms of technology are integrated and controlled, whilst creatively all effects are integrated harmoniously. Its a fine line keeping a technological beast bang on point , yet still feeling alive.”

“The Reactor was a brand new concept for us, technically the biggest challenge was which ideas to unleash and which to hold back for the future. Logistically the hardest part was managing to independent stages that had to work synchronically. Their were seven unique performances, 15 Trucks and over 80 technical crew between the two spaces.”

London can now add its name to the cities caught in Arcadia’s web.

The suppliers

Arcadia takes ownership over all elements of a production, designing and managing some completely in-house, some with external suppliers in the end delivery of an element and others are standard hires.

Lighting design and operation – MIRRAD

Video Content – Blinkin Lab

Projections  CPL

Pyrotechnics – Event FX

Snow – Snow Business

Audio – AF Live

Reactor Lighting Supply  – Colour Sound Experiment

Reactor Lasers – ER Lasers

All Flame Effects – Arcadia Inhouse/ Arcadia’s core tech crew