On Thursday 20 October in Luton, Revoluton Arts presented DUNDU, a 5-metre tall light puppet and Baby DUNDU that led an enthralled parade of local residents into the heart of the town centre bringing a sense of wonder, togetherness and joy. Baby DUNDU also visited Richmond Hill School East in the morning as a special treat for pupils.
Organised by Revoluton Arts with festival.org and Global Streets, residents made their own lanterns for the parade at free workshops during October, organised by the UK Centre for Carnival Arts.
The after-dark parade led by DUNDU began at Kenilworth Road with people carrying lanterns they made at the workshops. Along the way to the finale, DUNDU interacted with people in the parade, people in their houses peeking through their windows, greeting businesses and their staff and surprising some unsuspecting locals along the way.
The grand finale gathering at St George’s Square began with Dhol drummers Dhols Royce playing as DUNDU and the parade arrived. A series of young performers that Revoluton Arts has been working with over four years performed to the crowds compared by actor Tiarnan Doherty. These artists included Next Generation Youth Theatre, musician LDDEA, Sad Face the Poet, and visually impaired Country and Western singer, Will Murgatroyd.
DUNDU, which means You and You (or Du und Du), is a gentle, giant light puppet from German arts company DUNDU – The Giants of Light. Baby DUNDU, known as DUNDU’s little brother made a special appearance in the morning at special needs school Richmond Hill School East, interacting and engaging with the pupils.
David, a teacher at Richmond Hill School said: ‘Honestly, I can’t say thank you enough, that was the most beautiful and magical experience. I felt in terms of the sensory experience that our kids would get so much from it, but Baby DUNDU exceeded my expectations. I can’t begin to tell you how moved I felt knowing how hard it is for our children to engage and have new experiences. I’m so grateful to Revoluton Arts for having the foresight to think of bringing this to the children that I work with who don’t usually get these opportunities. This was a career highlight, since I’ve worked in special needs, I haven’t had a better experience than this. I’m so so grateful.’
Local people who came to see DUNDU and the performers expressed their thoughts about the event and seeing DUNDU and the performances.
Zahra age 6 from Luton said: ‘It was funny. I feel happy. I like the lights and the singing and dancing.’
Danyul Khan, aged 24 from his hometown Luton, said: ‘I think it was something creative. It brought a bit of hope to people. How it started from the very beginning, I think it gave a lot of kids that little ray of hope in life. You know, sometimes when you’re feeling down, there’s always something great to look up to. There are a lot of young people involved, it gives them a bit of motivation here to do something, be a bit more creative. This is something unique and something different. It’s not like your everyday sort of arts. I think Luton is about being creative again.’
Zena Ellis from Luton said: ‘The puppet’s really beautiful. It’s a lovely atmosphere and a lovely event. It makes me feel happy.’
Carl O’Brien from High Town, Luton said: ‘I thought it was fantastic. It was amazing to follow Dundu all the way through town and see it interact not only with people but also houses and businesses. Great to see after two years of lockdown pandemic. I found it very, very relaxing which is odd as it’s cold, it’s dark, but it was a lovely experience seeing people leave their houses, joining the crowd to follow it here to George’s Square. I hope many, many more things happen like this in town again. It was a joy, really great to see and inspiring as well.’
Lily, aged 13 from Stopsley, Luton said: ‘It was cool. It’s special being here, it’s everyone’s hometown. To see all the lights and everyone being together.’
Luke Dwyer from Wood Green, London said: ‘It was nice to see something going throughout the town engaging different people from all walks of life, with live music on a Thursday night. It’s a really nice event. It was nice to have everyone together, there was a sense of unity, especially in Bury Park which is like the beating heart of the town. I feel elated. Nothing normally happens like this, on this scale. To have something like this on a Thursday night, when it’s cold. Well there must be a 1000 or so people, which you don’t normally see. I’d like to see more things like this in Luton, maybe annually.’
Martina Hussein, aged 16 from Luton, said: ‘It’s nice. I like the diversity around here, the music and . . . people getting more involved, because most of the time people stay at home, mainly maybe because of the pandemic.’
Lindsey Pugh, CEO and Creative Director, Revoluton Arts, organisers of the event said: ‘Bringing DUNDU to Luton at this time was a joyous opportunity for our community to gather and be together in a harmonious celebration of our town and its people. At Revoluton Arts we love to create opportunities for local creatives and communities to thrive; DUNDU is a perfect example of this work. It was delightful to see so many people and families experiencing such joy and magic; seeing hundreds of children connecting with DUNDU at their bedroom windows was utterly heart-warming. As ever, Luton’s young talent throughout the parade was outstanding. We hope new friends and connections were made and the memories of this special togetherness and light show will be talked about for years to come.’