1. ITV Report

Magic on Cumbria's Derwentwater

A team of French street artists will use technical wizardry to transform Derwentwater in the Lake District into a magical fluid stage on Friday 10th and Saturday 11th August.

The cast of Ilotopie will literally walk on water during two free performances of Fous de Bassin (Water Fools) which will take place on the lake’s surface.

It will take a team of 20 people and a cargo ship full of equipment to create the amazing floating spectacle. The technical team have spent a week turning a corner of Derwentwater into a fantasy water wonderland.

A variety of weird and wonderful props including a car towing a caravan, a 12-foot tall floating bed complete with oars and a giant penny farthing will be unloaded onto the lake.

Fireworks, flames and a musical soundtrack will accompany the water-borne performances that start as darkness falls at 9.30pm.

The show is being brought to Keswick by Lakes Alive, Keswick Tourism Association, and Theatre by the Lake, in partnership with the National Trust and with additional support from Keswick Town Council.

Julie Tait, the director of Kendal Arts International which creates Lakes Alive, says:

“Ilotopie’s technical brilliance is unsurpassed and the risks and challenges they face to achieve such a dramatic feat is incredible. Audiences will not be able to believe their eyes - it promises to be a truly thrilling and unforgettable event.”

– Julie Tait
One of the performances Credit: Heerlen©Klaus Tummers

Led by artistic director Bruno Schnebelin, Ilotopie spent years in planning and design to solve the technical difficulties involved in staging a show on water. Since its launch, Fous de Bassin has made a huge splash around the world.

The team is made up of a stage manager, musical composers, lighting technicians, choreographers, technical constructers and performers.

Bruno says:

“We build everything ourselves. One of our principles is to do what we cannot do and that poses a lot of problems because performing on the water is not always simple.”

– Bruno Schnebelin

Most of the props including the car have electric motors attached to them to propel them through the water. Others, such as the three-metre high penny farthing, are operated manually by the performer walking in them.

Many of the constructions such as the tree and the bed arrive in parts and have to be rebuilt before being lowered into the water.

Laurent Ide, Ilotopie’s technical director, says:

“It is very difficult to create an artistic performance on the water. It is also very difficult with the weather conditions. There are always unanticipated and unforeseen problems to solve. But this is what makes this work intense and so attractive and fascinating for us.”

– Laurent Ide

Fous de Bassin has been greeted with critical acclaim around the world in cities including Sydney, Chicago and London. During the past two decades Ilotopie has become one of the world’s best loved street theatre companies.

The performances, which are free, will take place on Friday 10 & Saturday 11 August at Crow Park (just opposite Theatre by the Lake) at 9.30pm.