The Official Birmingham Hippodrome Blog: Breathing life into ice…

Deep in the heart of Birmingham’s Southside district, hidden in an old warehouse behind a public house something extraordinary is taking place… Every day teams of volunteers arrive at the warehouse to assist in the creation of a poignant spectacle set to take to the steps of Birmingham’s Chamberlain Square on 2 August presented by […]

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Animal Set Up

100&1000s

Whilst Craig and Jack researched human statistics for Of All The People In All The World in St. Martin’s Church, Worcester – which opens on Monday. I saw to various jobs around the office and beyond before zipping over to the University of Warwick to complete the installation of statistics for Of All The Creatures Across The Globe. After eleven years dealing exclusively with white rice it is a great joy to be parlaying with pepper corns and pumpkin seeds, black sesame and almonds, chick peas and mung beans, red lentils and sago.

It was Shady Brady weather but a supply of cool water kept coming and a gang of assistants helped speed things along. The boxes are looking good in the meanders and responses from bystanders seemed very strong, so hopefully a lot of people will get to enjoy the piece and hopefully we will get some more life from what has been a logistics heavy project.

Graeme Rose's Blog: Kickstarting the KILN in Edinburgh

KILN are taking a trilogy of epic shows to Edinburgh this year, but need a little helping fuelling the fire. Can you help? Take a look at these demonstration videos which give tantalising glimpses into the technology behind the work.

1. Olivia does Makey Makey

2. Olivia und der blaukopf

3. Sam introduces the instruments

and here is the Kickstarter page for KILN ensemble’s ‘Made In Birmingham’ campaign; https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1853305446/made-in-birmingham-performed-at-edinburgh-fringe-2

KILN ensemble will be performing all three shows, A Journey Round My Skull, Lady Gogo Goch and The Furies at the Summerhall Venue, Edinburgh.


Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Diamond Scales

measuring

The notion of doing an animal version of Of All The People In All The World has been an intriguing idea floating around for a few years. A few months ago Professor Baz Kershaw approached us with an opportunity to deploy the idea. He planned to create three ‘Meadow Meanders’ for a big international theatre conference at Warwick University and invited us to contribute animal statistics to his walks. The opportunity seemed too fun to turn down.

The premise is identical to Of All The People In All The World one of something represents one of something else. 1 grain of white rice still = 1 human but now 1 pepper corn = 1 mountain gorilla and 1 red lentil = locust Etc.

In 2003 trying to establish the average weight of a grain of rice armed only with a set of kitchen scales and a bag or rice was a pain and not a pain I was prepared to go through with 20 different food stuffs. Now, however, we are based in the Jewellery Quarter borrowing a set of diamond scales is as easy as knocking on your neighbour’s door. Our neighbours were embarrassed that their most precises scales were unavailable but with those 10 times less accurate our man Phil ‘Precision’ Holyman was able to compare the weights of individual brown mustard seeds (Wildebeests). His greatest revelation was that 100s and 1000s (one for each known species in the world’s oceans) may be so called because of the great variation in their weights (for those thinking the obvious question – no, there appears to be no correlation between colour and weight of the 100 or 1000).

Today we attempted to set up all our beautiful boxes on site but were thwarted by a lack of the posts we had been promised, so we did everything we could to prepare and some time tomorrow I’m going to have to return to add all the foodstuffs. Thereafter Of All The Creatures Across The Globe is open to the public until 1st August.

Fierce Festival: 100 Swimmers in Moseley! Were you there?

 Fierce aren’t the only organisation to be using the baths as a site of inspiration!

We have had Laura Delaney and Lisa Stewart, two Australian artists on a residency in Moseley using the area and the Edwardian baths for the last week.

Then this event happened on Sunday…

An event organised by Some Cities-a city-wide social project inviting photographers of all abilities to share their images of Birmingham with the world.

See below for information from their press release:

100 SWIMMERS TAKE PART IN ONE-OFF CITY PHOTO EVENT
Over 100 swimmers from across the UK took part in a one-off photo event earlier today (Sunday 20 July), aimed at highlighting the plight of one of the Birmingham’s most important community buildings.

The 100 Swimmers, a project by photographer Attilio Fiumarella, saw the empty Gala Pool at Moseley Road Baths in Balsall Heath filled with swimmers, photography fans, city heritage enthusiasts and community supporters; a reaction to the news that Birmingham City Council intends to close the historic building permanently in 2015.

A final powerful and thought-provoking image emulating the famous Terracotta Army sculpture of Ancient China was captured, also completing a community photographic project entitled The Swimmers on show at the Old Print Works in Birmingham until Wednesday 23 July 2014.

Attilio Fiumarella is a recipient of the first Some Cities bursary scheme. He has been working to document the under-threat Grade-II Moseley Road Baths building over the past few months.

 

Fierce Festival: SOUNDkitchen Series 2014 #02

We’re excited about this coming up on Friday!

Check it out:

SOUNDkitchen Series 2014 #02

SOUNDkitchen’s 2014 series contnues on

Friday 25 July at Vivid Projects, Birmingham

DATE AND TIMES

Friday 25 July, 2014

Doors open 7.30pm, Performance 8.00pm

Vivid Projects, 16 Minerva Works, 158 Fazeley Street, Birmingham B5 5RS

Bringing audiences an eclectic line up of composers, sound artists and performers. For the second of SOUNDkitchen’s ‘New Collaborations’, composers Monty Adkins and Martin Clarke join forces to bring us a unique performance combining abstract spaces and environmental sound.

SOUNDkitchen are showcasing emerging artists from the Midlands throughout the series and are delighted to be presenting digital media artist Alan Brooker. Also on the bill is Australian sound artist Robert Curgenven and Greek composer Kostis Kilymis. This series is presented with support from the Sound and Music Composer-Curator programme.

Tickets £5 available from hXp://bit.ly/1qnExzY\

PERFORMANCES

MONTY ADKINS & MARTIN CLARKE

For the second in our New Collaborations project we bring together composers Monty Adkins and Martin Clarke. Adkins’ work is characterised by slow shi`ing organic instrumental and concrete soundscapes. His work focuses on encouraging a deeper immersive listening experience and his new works draw together elements from ambient, minimal electronica, acousmatic and experimental electronic music. Clarke is a sound artist, recordist and filmmaker. His work makes extensive use of environmental sound and video material to create layered, abstract, formal spaces which are o`en representational in appearance. For this collaboration, Clarke will be performing with environmental sound and Adkins will be performing a set of abstract and ambient materials.

ROBERT CURGENVEN

Robert Curgenven is a composer/sound artist drawing on the physicality of sound – not just the physical impact on the body but the way in which the auditory can shape our percep<on of space and the flow of time, from architectural to open space. His works span pipe organ through to feedback, immersive resonances via turntables and custom-made vinyl, as well as carefully detailed field recordings from remote areas in Australia where he lived for many years. The Wire surmises that “behind the music—to these ears at any rate—lurk such [disparate] presences as Alvin Lucier, King Tubby, Murray Schafer and Eliane Radigue.”

KOSTIS KILYMIS

Kilymis works on audio feedback systems and re-presentation. His practice touches upon music, performance, installation work and video – developed using a mixture of electronic and acoustic approaches. He has collaborated with musicians such as Lucio Capece, Nikos Veliotis, Leif Elggren, Phil Julian, Sarah Hughes and Patrick Farmer. He also runs the Organized Music from Thessaloniki music label.

For his performance at SOUNDkitchen he will be performing a set using field-recordings, electronics and live feedback manipulations.

ALAN BROOKER

Alan is a digital media artist with a background in Vjing, glitch aesthetics and creative coding. His work investigates live sounds and visuals gleaned from unusual sources both digital and physical, from the sonification of computer source code, electrical magnetic interference and use of forgotten technology. With Birmingham based Audio/Visual collective FreeCode, Alan has performed at the Fierce, Superbyte and Network Music Festivals.

During his performance at SOUNDkitchen, Alan will create a collage of mangled cassette tape ambience, pulsating tones controlled by water purity sensors and live coded bleeps and beeps.

The Official Birmingham Hippodrome Blog: In rehearsal with SHREK The Musical…

A host of fairytale characters are coming to life in a secret rehearsal room not so far, far away… The big, bright and beautiful UK tour of Shrek – the Musical opens tomorrow night in Leeds, and we thought we would bring you a sneaky few shots from the rehearsal room ahead of opening night… […]

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Peace In Our Time

kennedy
JFK and the Cuban Exiles. Photo credit: Graeme Braidwood

It takes a bit to get me on my feet at the end of a theatre show but Year 6 deserved their standing ovation last night. If the progress they have made in the last two months is remarkable their improvement in the last week has been astonishing. The confidence flowing from Wednesday’s first successful performance powered them through Thursday’s matinee and further confidence from that performance fueled by fatigue and ice-cream helped them improve another huge leap in the evening performance.

Our ambition was to make a show which ‘neutrals’ would enjoy. This was the challenge we locked ourselves into by determining that all three performances should be open to a paying public. I know I would have enjoyed the show if I had had nothing to do with it but knowing cast added a powerful extra dimension as I saw the cast flourish and knew that for some just to stand in the light, in front of that crowd and make themselves heard with lines they had learned was a huge thing. For teachers who had known them far longer and more closely this impact was more profound still.

Craig did an amazing job directing the show, his patience and persistence, sensitivity, imaginative flare and wit are all over it. I waltzed in and out but he pushed this show up the hill. All hail him.

And whilst we’re all at it let’s save a little hail for Kay who today admitted she was a bit anxious about kitting out this vast cast in costumes in such quick time. Hail goes to Johnny for guiding the cast and teachers in the construction of many of the show’s props – the U2s and the submarines were my favourites. No less hail to goes to newbie Luke Deane for working with the cast to compose the show’s songs and Christine Cornwell with whom he conjured the essential incidental music. Should hail remain it goes to Reel Access for working with the cast on the beautiful short video that opens the show. Respect is also due to Mick and Jim who together put in numerous good old shifts to get the lights, microphones and video all up and running amid the chaos of rehearsals. Double respect goes to the Year 6 teachers with whom we would have been sunk. What a massive team effort – in some why if feels as if school shows are the essence of what theatre can and should be, but I do enjoy them much more when they are about the Cold War.

As people have been asking. What next?

Who knows. Until then a first batch of images for this show are now on the website here.

mid * point: Islands (or how to play dirty and get away with it…) sharing and support

The Bush Theatre and Caroline Horton and Co with China Plate present
Islands (or how to play dirty and get away with it…)
Commissioned by Warwick Arts Centre
Hello Everyone,

If you’ve been keeping a close eye on the China Plate Facebook and Twitter feeds then I’m sure you’ve already heard about Caroline Horton’s Kickstarter campaign for her new play Islands (Or how to play dirty and get away with it).

Islands will push beyond the headlines, exploring the world of tax havens, off-shore finance and global greed to really uncover the hidden impact of this murky world.

This is a subject we really care about and are passionate about raising awareness and making change happen through this show.

At the moment, we’re having a little difficulty getting word of our campaign out beyond the traditional channels and theatre networks. If you can support, or help by sharing the campaign online, via Facebook and Twitter then we’ll hopefully be able to engage the widest network possible.

Caroline’s previous show You’re Not Like The Other Girls Chrissy was nominated for a 2013 Olivier Award and won the Best Solo Performer at The Stage Awards (2010) and Mess won Best Ensemble at the Stage Awards (2012).

“Comes perilously close to genius and announces Horton as a major, major talent”
Time Out on Caroline Horton’s Mess

Click below to see a bit more about Mess.

Fuelled by a fantastic creative team including Director Omar Elerian (Bush Associate Director) and Designer Oliver Townsend and incredible co-producers including Warwick Arts Centre and the Bush Theatre we all have huge ambitions for this show.

We’re aiming to raise an additional £5000 to support the final stages of development and to enable us to book a tour for the piece after it premieres at The Bush next February. We want to give as many audiences as possible the opportunity to engage with Islands nationally and internationally.

We’re still a little way from our goal with the campaign ending in 7 days so we really do need your help. Visit the Kickstarter Campaign page to find out more about the piece, check out what rewards are on offer for your pledges and be part of making change happen.

If you could share the campaign as far and wide as possible we’d really appreciate it!

Thank you for all of your support so far.

The China Plate team


The Other Way Works: R&D Retreat

Afterlife
R&D Retreat
Monnington House, Herefordshire February 2014
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Watch the film documenting the week here

In February 2014 we brought together a small group of artists to develop ideas for a new project ‘Afterlife’ during a residential R&D week in rural Herefordshire.
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‘Afterlife’ will be a 3 night residential retreat for 12 participants, where they are supported to select ONE memory from their life so far that would like to live in for eternity, and to receive artistic interpretations of the memory to take home that will act as memory triggers.
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Our aim for the R&D week was to creatively interrogate the idea, and explore ways in which we could create this kind of experience for our participant­audience.
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The artists all kept a journal during the week to note reflections and insights. Extracts from these are quoted below to help tell the story of the week.
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SUNDAY: ARRIVAL
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We arrived at night, so none of us had a real sense of where we were, the look of the land nearby, if there were any houses, animals, etc… All this was unveiled the next morning. Having a secret location where participants arrive by cabs at night, might help with the sense of being retreated or in another dimension.

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MONDAY : INTRODUCTORY EXERCISE: MAKING & WALKING A LABYRINTH
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Every Monday should be labyrinth day! This was our first activity and one that I’ll keep in my mind forever.

The Labyrinth for me was a very apt introduction to what we are exploring. The group got together pretty fast and devised a way to make the shape of the Labyrinth collectively. The way these group dynamics worked contributed, I found, to the overall experience. The participation of everyone in the making of a common “game” with specific rules, and then the experience of walking the Labyrinth, helped me enter the right state of mind for thinking about the memories I would visit, and for sharing the space with the rest of the group.

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TUESDAY & WEDNESDAY: CREATIVE EXERCISES TO SURFACE & REFINE MEMORIES
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We tried out a variety of creative techniques to find ways to unlock our memories, using smells, music, meditation, writing exercises, and visual prompt cards.
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I like the more tangential sessions, approaching memory less directly: so, meditation and images are good and fruitful, the ‘think of a happy memory’ questions less so.

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One writing exercise was based on our five senses: smell, taste, touch, sound and sight. What I found surprising was that every single sense brought completely different memories to the ones I had over the week. Five brand new memories.

Next we experimented with ways to get inside the memory and flesh it out, using drawing and writing exercises, and describing the environment of the memory to camera, then watching the films back.
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Feelings and emotions are a key to this retreat. As a participant I was asked to delve into my past memories and pick one. This process, apart from bringing back these memories as images, brought up feelings and emotions. In some cases more intense than others.

THURSDAY: CREATION OF IMMERSIVE MEMORY EXPERIENCES & CREATIVE MEMORY TRIGGERS
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We created immersive re­-enactments of two artists’ selected memories, and sought theirs and each others’ feedback on these.
Members of the team also created artistic interpretations of the two memories that would act as memory triggers: a haiku, a short piece of prose, a design for a trinket, a short film, an audio clip. ­­­

What worked for me was the interaction with other people’s memories.

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The act of making the memory is a form of myth­making. This has the power to make the participants feel like they really are the heroes of their stories ­ if only momentarily.

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We learned that the immersive experience is a powerful thing and valuable. It creates a new memory, linked to the original one.

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Seeing her reaction [to the immersive re­enactment of her memory] made me a little emotional, but in a very positive way as I felt we’d nailed her memory recall experience. I felt proud of our work as a team and could imagine the sense of achievement we’d get from helping other people to re­live their memories and experiences.

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Presentation to each other of artistic interpretations of our memories: micro films, creative writing, and designs for trinkets.
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Creating something symbolic/impressionistic is more effective than something realistic. Also fragments are more successful as they allow room for the imagination. A sequence of fragments works well.

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The team produced some beautiful things and experiences: films, immersive sensory experiences, poems, creative prose, designs for bespoke objects (drawings), tastes etc.
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We found that the ‘metaphor’ of the memory is really helpful for creating the artistic memory triggers.
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FRIDAY: A FINAL WALK & DEPARTURE
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The difference with the sort of performance approach we have is that it puts the audience at the centre of the performance experience. The participants become directors of their own memories.

Artists:
Katie Day | Mark Day | Chris Keenan | Jorge Lizalde | Katherine Maxwell­Cook | Xristina Penna | Louise Platt

Producer: Thomas Wildish

Director: Katie Day

Supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England