Worcester’s empty shop fronts came to life for Same But Different

Image description: A woman stands inside a shop window looking out, she is wearing a pink wig that covers part of her face and wears a body suit entirely covered with inflated pink hand gloves. There is a vinyl on the window that says ‘SAME BUT DIFFERENT’ in black text.

Written by Arches Fests

5th August 2021

The Arches Worcester Festivals took empty shop fronts in Worcester’s city centre and brought them to life with playful and fun live performances in Same But Different. 

Image description: Setting is a high street - we can see a pedestrian walkway with various shops, signs and shop windows along side it. A group of people have gathered on one side looking up at the shop windows that are on the first floor of a building. Inside the windows we can see there are performers, one wearing a bright pink costume entirely made out of pink gloves. Some of the group are taking photographs as they watch the performance. In the background we can see a green tree, and a large green inflatable tentacle on the roof of a building.

Chapel Walk was host to international Hula Hoop performer Angie Mack, serving up the unexpected in the former Gourmet Burger Kitchen site. The high street took a surreal turn with 2Faced Dance’s Fox, Badger, Stag and Hare leaping and turning in the former Top Shop windows. Kitsch N Sync’s Lampshade Ladies and Udderly Jubbly surprised those looking up as they peered down from the first floor of the former DW Sports building. 

Image description: we are looking at a large glass window, which has a small sign on the left hand side that says 'look at me' in black text. Inside the window is a dancer dressed as a stag. He is wearing brown and dark green coloured clothes and is wearing a hat that has antlers attached to it. He stands looking out towards the street with his arms outstrecthed to the sides and his hands open. In the reflection we can see people watching and other shop on the high street.

The Pod at Crowngate became the stage for a digital adventure story, whilst Graduate Commission Matthew Rawcliffe blurred the lines between performance and reality as his work transformed an empty shop into “The Crisp Sandwich Café throughout the day. 

“Being awarded the shop front commission for Same But Different has helped me to build relationships and develop networks so that I can base myself in somewhere like Worcester, meaning that people don’t have to travel to bigger cities like London to experience great dance.”  Matthew Rawcliffe, Shop front Graduate Commission

Image description: A woman sits on the inside of a shop window, her hair is up and she is wearing a white T-shirt with a graphic on it. She sits at a desk that has numerous crisp packets on it. On the outside of the window a young girl is sitting on a chair in front of the glas facing the woman inside. The two are placing their hands on the same spot on the window so their hands line up, as though they are high fiving through the glass.

“It was great to animate empty spaces in Worcester, filling them with creativity and wonder. Worcester has already seen some lovely artwork vinyls in shop windows and what we wanted to do was bring those shop fronts to life with live performance that is playful and just a little bit surreal. We enjoy creating moments for people to happen upon that are unexpected like dancing animals in what was a clothing store!”David Edmunds, Festivals Director, Severn Arts

Image description: A woman is holding multiple yellow hoops, some in her hands, some on her legs and she appears to be moving. She is wearing a mic on her face and a red dress that has white stripes and polka dots across the middle section. In front of her is a family , with a couple of young children. They have shopping bags by their feet and one of them is holding a small purple octopus. The family are all smiling and laughing, and one of the young girls is reaching out her hand as if she wants to touch one the hoops the woman is holding. In the background we can see the inside of a shop with some more multi coloured hoops on the ground.

High Streets around the country were already changing pre-pandemic. Same But Different has given us a glimpse of how culture can be used to help transform Worcester’s high street and at the same time open it up to wider audiences alongside independent and national retailers, restaurants and coffee shops.Laura Worsfold, CEO, Severn Arts

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