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Archive for the ‘Previews’ Category

Devoted & Disgruntled 11

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

D&D image

Are you Devoted to making and watching theatre type activities but often a bit Disgruntled that things could work better in this field? Well, if so then the ideal place for you to be between 9th and 11th January next year is The REP in Birmingham where the 11th Edition of the Devoted and Disgruntled Open Space event takes place.
Continue reading “Devoted & Disgruntled 11” »

So much to see (and hear)

Friday, September 25th, 2015

Now the autumn rush is upon us, suddenly there is much potentially exiting stuff to see (and hear) in and around Birmingham. Birmingham Weekender is this weekend. The Stan’s Cafe contribution is a subtle input into one of the most subtle events in festival. Michael Wolters has written a Requiem to be performed in a disused retail unit and we have been called in to consider the presentation of this piece. Continue reading “So much to see (and hear)” »

BCMG Family Concert

Monday, March 2nd, 2015


Over the last two evenings we have been in the amazing deco setting of the Barber Institute Concert Hall listening to the amazing players of Birmingham Contemporary Music Group work through early rehearsals for the pieces that they will be playing as part of their family concert on Sunday. It’s been a treat, like private concerts with the added bonus of the conductor Christopher Austin tweak their performance to the shape he wishes. It’s soothing listening to the music and soothing to have a rehearsal going on that you have no responsibility for.

Our job, as ever, is to add a bit of theatrical flare to the concert proceedings without distracting too much from the music. We have a few ideas up our sleeves including the idea of teaming up with Paul Gaffney, a fantastic photographer whose specialism is sets of photographs taken on extended walks. He has produced a great set of new images especially for this concert and is also kindly allowing us to use his acclaimed series We Make The Path By Walking and another as yet unreleased series shot by moonlight. Next Monday, after two schools concerts, Paul will be giving a talk about his work at Library of Birmingham (18:00 -19:30) who, along with GRAIN have co-commissioned this new set of images.

We have a break tomorrow, then on Wednesday we focus in on our plans quite intently. Thursday is set aside for a bit of technical prep and work from us. On Friday it’s music and theatre. Saturday evening is a dress rehearsal and Sunday we fix everything that will be wrong with the dress rehearsal and perform at 11:30 and 14:00 before having a little lie down.

Hello to Farewell

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

I excited to see Imitating the Dog coming to The REP this week with their new show A Farewell to Arms. The company specialize in bringing video projection together with live action in a beautiful and slick way. This facility combined with Hemingway’s plot should be a great combination. Continue reading “Hello to Farewell” »

Furious Folly

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014


There has been a lot of art sloshing around the centenary of the start of WW1, including our own collaboration with Nenad Prokic, Finger Trigger Bullet Gun, but there is nothing that I have wanted to see more urgently than Mark Anderson’s Furious Folly.

Mark is a brilliant artist and spot on person. He is bright and imaginative enough to draw inspiration from the Dadaist response to World War 1. He has the pyrotechnic skills to make you feel you are stood in the middle of World War 1 but the sensitivity and artistic craft to resist doling out shell shock to his audience.

In Northcroft Park, Newbury he is curating a team of artists to make something that is bound to be extraordinary. The real blow is that it is the same weekend (last weekend in August) that we’re engaged with The Commentators at Moseley Folk Festival. Which could become the dictionary definition of The Sublime and The Ridiculous.

Cultural Exchange #2

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014


One of the alluring elements of the BE Festival is the links that it brokers between the visiting artists and their host city. The festival introduces seventy young theatre makers to Birmingham and it introduces a local audience to theatre from eleven countries across Europe. The audience and artists supper together, but perhaps the most powerful engagement comes through the hosting of artists by local volunteers.

BE is able to operate on a shoestring by making it easy for people to give each other gifts. The artists are not paid and have to finance their own travel but get free food and board, volunteers host the artists and in exchange meet fascinating new people and receive tickets to see all the shows on the day their guests perform. It is a positive change and your chance to help make a great thing happen. If you are interested in hosting an artist or two email Helena Scott-Hardy at Helena@befestival.org.

BE Ready

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Today BE Festival launched it’s 2014 programme in a small event at The REP which even my ineptitude failed to totally wreck. The big news is that the festival which was born @ A E Harris has moved to The REP and a clever twist they are solving the riddle of being at The REP and retaining the factory feel by eschewing the venue’s plush foyer, bar and restaurant and reversing the venue. Audiences will enter through the back door. They will socialize in the venue’s workshop, eat on the main stage, visit an exhibition in the paint shop and see shows in The DOOR and The STUDIO, but here they will still enter from back stage. Continue reading “BE Ready” »

Scores and Scores

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014


I have had an interest in scores since 1997 when we made Simple Maths and found that a show that is all moves and no words is very difficult to notate into a conventionally written script. My solution was a spread sheet with numbered moves on the Y-axis and performers on the X-axis, the cell contains information as to what they are doing a column to the right was used for further notes. It turns out spread sheets are useful, variants have been used for District 12, The Cleansing of Constance Brown and The Cardinals. My memory is that the score for Make Like You Believe was more like a map.

The master spreadsheet for Twilightofthefreakingods, 258 rows marked of in minutes, columns A-P for players, instructions in each cell and colour coding red, blue and green could easily sneak into the exhibition that currently occupies the entrance gallery in the Library of Birmingham.

Score: Trace that Sound brings together an extraordinary collection of musical scores many of which resemble works of visual art more than musical notation. Those by Cornelius Cardew are pretty much the most conventional there (scroll down). The exhibition finishes on 5th April but the Frontiers Festival continues.

Cannon Hill Collective

Friday, March 28th, 2014


For a while now, and particularly this week, we – mostly Craig – have been lending some assistance to a group of young artists the Cannon Hill Collective at mac birmingham. They have been working on a mini festival. This weekend is the weekend when they do their thing. So we encourage everyone to drop in and see what they are up to. Their stimulus has been ‘art for social change’ so expect plenty of provocation and food for thought and maybe even ACTION.

Walk On

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

River Rea. Highgate 2013. HD Video Loop 7m 45s from David Rowan on Vimeo.

Yesterday I was over at mac birmingham offering a few shards of my ancient wisdom to the youth of the Cannon Hill Collective who are preparing a great four days of socially engaged arts activity at the venue 27th -30th March. It was another chance to dip into the great Walk On exhibition. Which, as the title suggests, collects art that springs from artists walking. Being a fan of maps, lists and walking I’m a sucker for all this stuff. I’m also a sucker for David Rowan’s set of beautiful video landscapes The Dark River, which also act as an outrider for this year’s Flatpack Festival

To be blunt, before its rebuild I can’t ever recall being particularly excited by mac’s exhibitions, they were constricted by their small exhibition spaces scattered through the building. Now, with a big gallery space in the centre of the building and more coherent public exhibition space down stairs it’s as if they’ve been let off the leash, I now actively look out to see what they’ve got coming in with the expectation it will be great.

So tomorrow you could treat yourself to a lovely evening at mac birmingham. Limber up with Walk On, dip into Untied Artist’s For Their Own Good and round things off with a delicious Purity Ale (other beers/exhibitions/art works are available, please drink/watch/contemplate responsibly – this blog post has not been paid for – I just like the work).

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