Monthly Archives: October 2012

Created in Birmingham » Theatre: A few Halloween events

As you might expect this evening sees a few Halloween-themed events in Birmingham.

At the Town Hall there’s traditionally a silent film from the horror genre with live organ accompaniment by Nigel Ogden. This year it is Der Golem (1915), described as “a crucial work in the development of the horror movie”.

Classic 1973 horror The Wicker Man is screening at Stirchley pub The British Oak, part of the Stirchley Happenings.

For an alternative to horror films there’s a spoken-word event at Six Eight Kafé. ‘All Hallow’s Read’ from Pigeon Park Press is an evening of open-mic fiction and poetry.

All Hallows Read poster

For something completely unrelated to Halloween ‘The Best of BE Festival’ is a touring triple-bill of short theatre pieces, selected from the BE Festival which took place in Birmingham earlier this year. This evening it will be performed at The Public in West Bromwich.

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Robot Prototype

Today Simon, Craig and I spent a day at The Barbican planning out Robot Steps. It has been commissioned for the venue’s forthcoming Weekender. As the piece is only up for a weekend the budget is low. We are therefore trying to plan a mini-version of the idea. One day planning, one day’s graphic design, half a day cutting and a day installation. It is difficult keeping the ideas under reign, nevertheless we think we have a good plan.

The process is a back and forth method that varies only a small amount depending on the circumstances. Here the theme came first, given by the venue: our relationship with technology. We figured out a way of addressing this them and considered the possibilities it presented for incident and action. We reflected on the the most recent version of the show (Dragon Steps) and what we may learn from this. We discussed how we see the piece in terms of scale and balance of text to action to scenery. We explored the venue to see if it inspired any incident or detail (not really). We we considered an over-arching narrative that may hold the themes together. We explore the venue again, looking at routes and how these may relate to narrative incidents. We agreed colours for characters. We worked up rough versions of text and rough sketches of action. We worked up precise versions of text and then toured the venue again to get precise details of action and the vinyl required to deliver this – in so doing we also tweaked text again. Finally we all left with our lists, to mull it all over and Simon to his laptop and graphic design software.

Unfortunately we got home too late to see Reckless Sleepers @ A E Harris – hopefully tomorrow.

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Dragons and Juice

Family Y has just come back after a fun weekend in NewcastleGateshead exploring the excellent sticking work done by the Dragon Steps installation team. It is all looking very strong, aided by a beautiful bright sunny day. Also as part of the Juice Festival we managed to take in some graffiti art in progress up behind Sage Gateshead, a good exhibition at Baltic and a night of Hip Hop at Dance City where I’m not sure even a pair of trainers would have helped me blend in.

It was a hugely enjoyable evening. A series of acts from across Hip Hop culture were warmly embraced by an audience of friends and fans. The acts were mostly dance groups with varying degrees of experience and sophistication. Throughout there were great moves – a joy of the form is you can shout out mid-dance if you see something you like (I’m keen on trying this at the Ballet). DJ Rasp‘s turntabalism was so amazing that though I knew in theory what he was doing I had absolutely no idea without the aid of extreme slo-mo what he was ACTUALLY doing.

For me the principle interest was seeing how the groups were looking to deploy b-Girl / b-Boy moves to tell stories or to blend with ‘contemporary dance’. In this direction my favourite piece was an extract of Contains Spoilers by Trash Dollys, which was difficult to pin down and not consistently brilliant, but ambiguous enough to ultimately prove compelling.

mid * point: Vacancy at Pentabus Theatre

Pentabus Theatre
is seeking to appoint an experienced and motivated Executive Director
This is a significant opportunity for an ambitious individual to work as joint Chief Executive, with Artistic Director Elizabeth Freestone, in shaping the future of this ground-breaking company.
Pentabus is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation based in Shropshire. The company tours all over the UK and is known for its innovative approach to developing and programming new work. If you’re looking for a new challenge in a stimulating, creative environment then this might be the job for you. We’re looking for a strategic thinker with entrepreneurial flair, able to take responsibility for the company’s business processes and deliver the company’s exciting artistic vision.
Application details and further information can be downloaded from our website:
Salary: £28,636 – £34,549
Closing date for applications: noon on Monday 19th November 2012
Interviews: 4th December 2012 & 17th December 2012

mid * point: Making More of Outdoor Arts

Making More of Outdoor Arts* is a research, conversation and thinking project.  It has been commissioned by Arts Council England West Midlands and led by Helga Henry (of Creative Shift), and Orit Azaz (independent producer and creative consultant).  We’d like you to get involved in the project and this is our first invitation to you to do so.

The project aims to bring together, extend and develop the community of interest around outdoor arts in the West Midlands.  This community is broad and includes artists and artist groups; producers; venues; festivals; and existing and potential partners of outdoor events and performances. We have written to you because we feel that you are part of this community of interest.

Through conversations in several modes – one to one, questionnaire, small group meetings, large group gatherings – we will draw together recommendations for how ACE and its partners can best contribute to the continued development of outdoor arts activities in the region. The outcomes of Making More of Outdoor Arts will link with similar projects taking place in the South West and East Midlands and will feed into a conversation at national level.

The first large group gathering is scheduled and full details and an invitation will follow shortly. We’ll also have an online presence where you can follow our progress, share insights and look at the information and resources that we will share with you as we discover them.

In the meantime we’d love you to save the date for the group meeting as we know how busy diaries get in December.  The details are as follows:

Date:    Tuesday 11th December, 1300 – 1700
Venue:  Pinsent Mason room, Birmingham Hippodrome, Thorp Street, Birmingham B4 5TB (directions here - )

We will provide refreshments at this event, but not lunch (so please eat before you arrive).  The advocacy launch of IDFB (International Dance Festival Birmingham) is taking place afterwards at the same venue from 5pm, so feel free to stay for that too!

As we said, invitations will follow shortly but if you have any questions about this project or would like to know more before the invitations arrive please email and we will pick up your request.

With kind regards
Helga Henry and Orit Azaz

*Outdoor Arts?
ACE’s national task group are using the following definition of outdoor arts; we propose to use the same: 
‘Outdoor Arts Activity is accessible, time-limited performance and installation work that happens in outdoor locations. There are specific areas of work within the overarching definition of outdoor arts, including (but in no way limited to): street arts, tented circus, carnival, celebratory and participatory arts, spectacle, community arts and art in the public realm. The work is often free to the public and can be presented as part of a programme, festival or as a stand alone event, eg Carnival and Mela. The work uniquely links its audience to the landscape that cannot happen within buildings. The quality of the work, its aesthetics, and the nature of the participatory experience reflect the relationship with the environment in which the work is presented.’

mid * point: November Programme @ Warwick Arts Centre

A word from WAC’s Matt Burman:

I wouldn’t normally do this kind of mailout but we’ve got so much good theatre stuff on in November, I wouldn’t want you to miss any of it. I want you to tell all your friends and families and colleagues, and come to as much as you can. We’ve got low prices and great deals on buying tickets for lots of shows. Come and hang out with us for the month. You know it makes sense.

We’ve got the triumphal homecoming (well, almost!) of the Best of BE Festival (5 November 19:45), with companies from Belgium, Spain and Cataluña presenting fantastic, forward-looking and radically new ways of making theatre and performance. BE is one of the region’s most perfectly formed festivals and this is a great opportunity to get a flavour of their brilliance, to see this year’s prize winners and encounter work like you’ve never seen before.

We’ve got the fabulous Forced Entertainment, bringing The Coming Storm (6-7/11 19:30), one of their most blistering shows for a number of years; a dark and compelling mix of broken stories and unstable identities, a collision of wonky choreography and desperate music, a piece about death and ageing and the fractured, absurd, violent times in which we live. Having positively stunned audiences across Europe and at LIFT earlier this year, Forced Entertainment return to one of the only UK venues to have shown most of the company’s work over its nearly 30 years of making. In my somewhat partisan opinion, you can’t say you’re interested in theatre and not see this. There’s a challenge for you and perhaps the start of a post-show heated debate in the bar!

One of the most brilliant and supercool dancer/performer/choreographers of our times, Wendy Houstoun performs 50 Acts (8-9/11 19:45). This is truly one of the smartest, most committed and moving performances I’ve seen all year. She’ll make you laugh and cry and think and want to change things. If I were to say, see one thing, it would be this. Do it!

And that’s just 5 days at Warwick Arts Centre!

Across the month we’ve also got a trio of fresh-off-the-press Triggered@Warwick projects. The return of David Rosenberg and Glen Neath’s Ring (31/10-1/11 19:15), a daring mix of theatre and sound art which began its life at Warwick Arts Centre earlier this year and comes back to haunt and deliciously unnerve in its completed form. And don’t miss the chance to be amongst the very first people to see new works from two of the country’s most idiosyncratic and stylish performance and theatre makers, and have a voice in the process of developing these projects. Brizzle darlings of the lofi epic Action Hero (16-17/11 19:15) take on the classic US small-town teen sports movie, and playful iconoclasts Reckless Sleepers (30/11 18:30… with Pilot’s Birthday bash straight after) begin an exploration of the crumbling slowdeath of the Empires of Old Europe.

I’ve wittered on enough, and am probably losing you by now. So I’ll just say quickly, all this AND Vincent Dance TheatreMade in ChinaPaper CinemaPilot Nights Birthday Party and Headlong’s Medea. The best of UK dance and theatre and it’s all on your doorstep. Your dark autumn nights need this stuff to keep your brain warm. That’s an actual true fact.

If you want to book for some or all of these, remember our Performance Package offer gives you 15% off if you buy tickets for 3 shows, 20% for 4 shows and a whacking 25% off if you book for 5 or more performances. And there are £5 student tickets for them all.

mid * point: Performers Wanted for Paid Work

Bearded Kitten are holding auditions to recruit a wide range of talented performers of all shapes, sizes and ages (18+). We’re looking for everyone from magicians to beatboxers, jugglers to actors.

Audition categories include:
- Interactive actors
- Cabaret/circus performers
- Bubbly promo staff
- MC’s and comperes
You’ll be working in a range of settings including brand activations, festivals and corporate events. Pay will vary according to the job, usually between £80-£350 a day.
We are looking for creative characters who can show real imagination and are all about the FUN!
Take a look around our website to see the kind of work you might be doing:
Our audition dates are:
Birmingham – 30th October
Manchester – 31st October
Edinburgh – 2nd November
If you are interested in auditioning please email your CV, showreel or photograph, and a small cover note Make sure you specify which city you would like to audition in!
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Bearded Kitten

mid * point: £5 tickets for The Orphan of Zhao

Dark clouds are gathering over the Court of the Emperor of China.

Watch the trailer for The Orphan of Zhao

Under the spell of his malevolent Minister Tu’an Gu, the Emperor sinks into a haze of decadence, leaving his courtiers in despair and the people at the mercy of his every whim. Those who challenge them are swiftly punished.

But one small hope remains: the hidden child, the Orphan of Zhao.

From 30 October, RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran directs The Orphan of Zhao, a sweeping story of loss, courage and hope from ancient China, in the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon.

Special offer – £5 tickets available
A limited number of £5 tickets are available for performances of The Orphan of Zhao from 30 October to 7 November* – just book online using promo code 8990.

Buy tickets

Visit to see rehearsal photoscostume designs and an interview with director Gregory Doran.

*Terms and Conditions
This offer is subject to availability and does not apply to tickets already purchased.  It cannot be combined with any other discounts or offers and only applies to the dates listed above.  This offer is only available online.

mid * point: Dracula at The Blue Orange Theatre, 25th Oct – 3rd Nov

The Blue Orange Theatre presents…

A new adaptation by Eric Gracey
Directed by Simon Ravenhill

This is the classic story of gothic horror which has inspired so many others. On the coast of England a ship with only a dead man strapped to the wheel and dark sails flying from its mast crashes into the shore and a mysterious black dog leaps to land and disappears. Elsewhere in England, psychiatrist Dr Seward is confused by his patient Renfield’s obsession with life and the nearby property recently purchased by a foreign noble.

English lawyer Jonathan Harker has been missing for some time. He parted from his fiancee Mina and headed to Transylvania where he was commissioned by a Count Dracula to come to his native land and assist in the count’s purchase of property in London. And what is the mysterious fever afflicting Mina’s friend Lucy? Can Dr Seward, or his old mentor Dr Van Helsing, halt the slow drain of her blood….?
This tale is not for the faint-hearted.

Thursday 25th October – Preview, all tickets £7
Friday 26th October
Saturday 27th October
Tuesday 30th October – Pay What You Can Night
Wednesday 31st October
Thursday 1st November
Friday 2nd November
Saturday 3rd November – Matinee at 3.00pm
Saturday 3rd November

Tickets: £10, £8.50 Concessions
(Group discount available for 10 or more)

Show starts at 7.45pm, bar opens at 6.45pm.  To book tickets please call the Box Office on 0121 212 2643 or buy them online

The Blue Orange Theatre
118 Great Hampton Street
B18 6AD
0121 212 2643

mid * point: Writing & Walking Workshops

With Summer gone, and the dark nights drawing in, make the most of the sunlight and fresh air with the first of our New Season workshops. Join us, at the very beginning of new beginnings, in the breathtaking heathland of Cannock Chase.

This is all about getting into the ‘heart of the woodland’, testing both your physical and creative strengths.  Writers will be asked to draw on some myth and fairytale as well as landscape for inspiration, and small writing tasks will be set along the way.

Further writing will continue at an indoor venue, where warm food and refreshments will be available. Writers will be given the time and space to work on their writing without interruption, followed by group  discussion, and readings.

Writers working at any level and in any genre are welcome to attend. For those looking to get back into writing, this workshop will be particularly useful. As well as using what is familiar,  particularly in subject and style, writers will also be encouraged to take a fresh perspective in order to generate new material.

Autumn is the season of the primary harvest,  of ‘mellow fruitfulness’ – a reap of both ‘wheat and words’.  Let’s see what it has to offer…

Date: November 3rd

Time: 10:30am

Cost: £14 (concessions available)

Workshop Leader: Helen Calcutt

To book:, 07941 848 592