Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Official Birmingham Hippodrome Blog: First ever Family Sleepover at Birmingham Hippodrome inspired by War Horse

On Friday 25 October our Creative Learning team welcomed families to our very first Family Sleepover inspired by the National Theatre’s War Horse. Commemorating World War 1 our studio theatre was transported to the trenches of France 100 years ago.  Free of technology the evening featured a series of activities reminiscent of 1914 England including crafts, games,  storytelling and ‘Trench Art’.     […]

The Official Birmingham Hippodrome Blog: Illuminating Poetry…

This weekend Illuminate will light up the areas surrounding Birmingham Hippodrome with a mix of light sculpture, dance, projection, live performance and more. Sipho Eric Dube is a volunteer and young ambassador working on Illuminate – he is also a poet and spoken word artist. Sipho has written a piece especially for the festival which […]

Capital Theatre Festival: Spotlight: UGLY DUCK

Capital started life in late 2010 as a week of rehearsed readings at the Old Joint Stock Pub & Theatre. We showcased a number of plays at an early draft stage, to test out the work in front of an audience and to gauge responses which would inform the future development of the plays.

One of the pieces selected was UGLY DUCK, by Stoke-based playwright Deborah McAndrew. Rooted firmly in the Potteries, the play grew out of the sense of community created by the unique structure of the region. Stoke-on-Trent, I discovered, is made up of six towns: Stoke, Burslem, Hanley, Tunstall, Longton and Fenton, each with their own identity. The fractured nature of the area is mirrored by the devastation of the job losses from the closure of the Wedgwood factory in 2009.

The play follows the story of Dennis, a life-long Port Vale fan who is rapidly declining in middle age and slowly sinking into the ranks of the long term unemployed. A Burslem boy through and through, he struggles to come to terms with the changes that life has thrown at him. In desperation, he answers an advert in the local paper for an artist’s life model, and soon finds himself exposed in more ways than one…

We are very pleased to be able to present the play as part of the Festival this year, and to complete the journey that was started three years ago. The production also marks Deborah McAndrew’s first project as a writer-producer, and we’re delighted to support her as she embarks on this new chapter in her career. She writes:

Capital Theatre Festival first picked up UGLY DUCK to develop back in 2010, and the work done then was invaluable in finding the play we’re finally presenting in 2013.
In bringing a full professional production of UGLY DUCK to Capital Theatre Festival 2013, we’re completing a virtuous creative circle that began in 2010 with a workshop and rehearsed reading. That’s what Capital is all about and it’s very satisfying to demonstrate how far an initial idea can go, if you have a supportive and creative forum through which to develop.
Here is a short video taken during the initial workshop in November 2010 (please note – the dates at the end refer to 2010).

UGLY DUCK will be presented as part of Capital Theatre Festival from 21-23 November at mac. Tickets are £10 (£8 concession). Box office 0121 446 3232.

You can find out more about the play, and Deborah’s new company, by visiting claybodytheatre

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Hammer and Tickle

I’ve just finished reading Ben Lewis’ book Hammer and Tickle: The History of Communism Told Through Communist Jokes. It’s an engaging read and, as you would hope, contains lots of jokes, some of them funny and most of them sad.

Late in the book Lewis meets three characters who interested me for different reasons. The first is Jerzy Urban, a Polish satirist who got hired by the Polish State as one of its spokespeople and used humour to defend the state. His blog/website makes me wish I could read Polish.

The second interesting character is the Romanian civil servant, Calin Bogdan Stefanescu, who kept a log of all the Communist jokes he heard between August 1979 and December 1989. His log included the joke, where and when he heard it as well as his estimation of the age and social background of the tell her. The results qualify him as a ‘statistician of jokes’. If you can read Romanian then the he has written a book on the results of his research. His project reminds me of the less politically perilous Sneeze Count.

Finally, my favourite character from the book, the East German prankster/activits Major Waldemar Fydrych who avoided National Service by turning up to the interview dressed as an army major and talked so enthusiastically about joining the army that the army deemed him mentally unfit to join. As Lewis describes it “this strategy, of taking the logic of the state line to its extreme, would underpin his later activities.” which included painting graffiti of orange dwarf figures on the white paint that the state had used to paint over pro-Solidarity graffiti. The orange dwarf became his symbol and became The Orange Alternative.

Don’t worry, there’s no show about communism on the Stan’s Cafe production line, sometimes I do read just for pleasure.


mid * point: FOUNDRY NIGHT

New stories, new voices and new visions of the world. As The REP moves into the next phase in its remarkable history we are offering a new, yearlong development programme, REP Foundry, for emerging directors, writers, theatre makers and companies from across the West Midlands.

The selected artists will present their work in progress at REP Foundry Nights. These scratch performance nights will provide a unique insight into how new theatre is formed and staged. Be the first to see work from REP Foundry artists throughout 2013.

REP Foundry Nights take place on the last Thursday of the month at 8.00pm

Thursday 26th October

Tickets: £3-£5

Book yours!

mid * point: MESS by Caroline Horton

Josephine is putting on a play – Boris and Sistahl help. It’s about anorexia. But don’t let that put you off. Unflinchingly they confront big issues (and extremely tiny ones). Today they will tackle a particularly thin elephant in the room. Obsession, addiction and not wanting to get out of bed: a play with songs from You’re Not Like The Other Girls Chrissy creator Caroline Horton.

2012 Stage Award Winner for Best Ensemble.

Comes perilously close to genius and announces Horton as a major major talent

MESS is on at Birmingham Rep 1 – 2 November.

Tickets: £9 – £12

Book yours!

mid * point: BEDLAM FESTIVAL

The BEDLAM Festival of Mad Ideas takes place at The REP from 1st – 9th November and includes theatre performances, comedy performances, writing and drama workshops, poetry readings, a film event and a Symposium.  It is presented in partnership with Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust. Further information is available here  Many events are FREE.  PDF programme attached.


The 31st October is not only Halloween, but also the first night of The Blue Orange Theatre’s production of JEKYLL AND HYDE. The ideal play for the spooky celebration and the dark nights ahead.


Based on the classic tale by Robert Louis Stevenson the play’s adapter, Eric Gracey, has set it in the Jazz  age of the 1930s and includes a mix of popular tunes of the day which in turn comment on the action.


Actor, Oliver Hume who plays Jekyll, has given Jekyll’s alter-ego  a human side struggling to come to terms with the violence within the character. Whilst Jekyll’s friends and acquaintances try to understand the doctor’s mood swings. The production has several moments of genuine suspense – guaranteed to thrill.


So, if you are not too frightened to go out after dark, why not book a ticket at the Blue Orange for this new production and join Jekyll’s friend Utterson in finding out hte truth about a certain Mr Edward Hyde


JEKYLL AND HYDE runs from Thursday 31st October to Saturday 9th November at  Blue Orange theatre. For more information or to book tickets please visit the website

mid * point: Theatre Exchange

Get involved with the new venture

Firstly a HUGE thank you to everyone who has supported Theatre Exchange so far. We’re entering a new phase from November 2013 which means a few changes.   Our focus, as always, is to support and facilitate the growth of theatre in our region. We will showcase new writing extracts performed by professional actors, provide a platform to plug your upcoming shows and have a guest speaker at each event. The difference being that will be operate on a quarterly basis and will be visiting other venues as well as The Old Joint Stock culminating in a Best of Theatre Exchange showcase.

We will hold four events:

November 2013: The Old Joint Stock , Birmingham

January 2014: Theatre Absolute, Coventry

April 2014:  Birmingham REP, Birmingham

Summer 2014: SHOWCASE. At a venue tbc we will have a producers showcase with 30 minute extracts of new writing; one chosen piece from each of the three events.

So a little healthy competition and the opportunity to take the pieces further. We’re very excited about this new venture and hope you will be too!

Submissions for the November event are now open and we have opportunities for writers, actors and directors.

mid * point: Be Haunted by Foghorn Improv this Halloween

It’s time for a meeting with death… come hear the knocking from a door that hasn’t been there for hundreds of years. Speak to your dead great-great-great-grandfather using only sequential letters of the alphabet. And meet our world famous pychic who has a message from a well-known person from beyond the grave…

Prepare to be terrified out of your laughter… Waah haa haaa haaa haaa

Most Haunted by Foghorn Improv
When: 31st October 2013, 8pm
Cost: £7.50
Where: Old Joint Stock, Birmingham