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A breath of fresh air as Picnic by the Lake kicks off Feast!

This weekend's Feast! Picnic by the Lake in Manchester looks set to kick the festival season off nicely. The three-day event in Platt Fields Park has exciting new work from both the Ballet Boyz and Punchdrunk, who are fast becoming known for their innovative site-specific theatre pieces. Commissioned by Without Walls as part of the X.Trax showcase, which develops emerging street arts, both companies are premiering new work specifically meant to be performed outdoors.

"We wanted to encourage some of the most new and exciting companies working in theatre and dance venues to develop pieces for audiences outside where a far bigger number of people can see them," explains Maggie Clarke, director of X.Trax. "We're showing that there can be high quality works outdoors, not like Covent Garden busking, but as a platform for artistically credible companies."

Punchdrunk will build a house out of straw bales for a quirky dance piece, and Ballet Boyz, who have never performed outside before, will present an urban quartet on a basketball court. Elsewhere, the Cockney Awkestra will teach audiences how to be better cockneys through a series of surreal sketches.

www.streetsahead.org.uk; www.xtrax.org.uk