Monthly Archives: May 2014

mid * point: Birmingham Comedy Festival – call out for all-dayer

Birmingham Comedy Festival 2014
* Call out to comedians, sketch groups, theatre troupes, poets, musicians and performers
* Slots available as part of all-day city centre event
As part of the Birmingham Comedy Festival (3-12 Oct 2014), we’re running an ‘all-day’ event in Birmingham City Centre on Sunday 5 October at two venues on John Bright Street. The venues hold around 60 each.
Hour long, ‘Edinburgh’ style slots will be available from lunchtime onwards in both venues.
To initially apply we need from you:
*     Details of the act and show being put forward.
*  Roughly what time of day you’d like to perform. Slots are available from 1pm to 9:45pm.
* Whether there are technical requirements for the show.
* Whether you will sell tickets to your show OR run it as Free in, bucket donations on the way out. Either way you will keep 100% of the door/bucket money (less the on-line sales booking fee).
We’ll then get back to you with a time/venue. If you are allocated a slot – there is a £40 show registration fee.  This covers:
- entry into the Birmingham Comedy Festival brochure, website and other marketing materials (as appropriate)
- free use of the venue for the allocated time
- a ‘show manager’ who will ensure the smooth running of the venue, do the door, sound cues etc.
- administration of on-line ticket sales, if you chose to sell tickets
Deadline: FRIDAY 20 JUNE 2014, noon (if full payment is not received by this time, your slot will be allocated to someone else). Please note that space are limited.
If you are interested – please reply with the information requested above.
* * Drop us an email via:
[ NOTE: The next deadline for submission of longer shows or confirmed activities at other venues is 11 July 2014, noon. ]
Birmingham Comedy Festival is an independent multi-discipline city-wide arts festival which has been running successfully since 2001, and mixies big names with emerging talent from Birmingham and the UK.
For more information on Birmingham Comedy Festival, see:

mid * point: Audition call out – The Hundred Years’ War

Audition call for West Midlands based performers for the upcoming national tour of The Hundred Years’ War – modern war poetry in performance
Following on from the highly acclaimed poetry in performance production Being Human, Midlands Creative Projects in association with Bloodaxe Books and the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry present their latest production, The Hundred Years’ War. Drawing on forty extraordinary war poems written between 1914 and 2013, this brand new production fuses poetry and theatre to create a distinctive and deeply moving portrayal of life under fire.
Midland Creative Projects are now inviting applications from West Midlands based performers to audition for this brand new production, featuring contemporary poetry drawn from the Bloodaxe Books anthology of the same name. This production will open at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry in October 2014 and embark on a two phase UK tour from November 2014 until Summer 2015. Development meetings and rehearsals will take place between August and October 2014 in Birmingham and Coventry. Further details can be found in the attached document or by following this link
Applications should be emailed to Antonia Beck (Producer), and the deadline is 5pm on Thursday 5th June.


mid * point: Pentabus seeks BBC Fellow

As part of the BBC Performing Arts Fellowship, we are looking for someone who has shown dedication and passion towards a career in theatre and who demonstrates potential but who needs support and guidance to take the next steps. We are offering an exclusive opportunity to one theatre maker (director, producer, writer etc) to work with Pentabus Theatre Company on a tailor-made opportunity to fit best our Fellow. The Fellow will be awarded up to £10,000 as well as support, guidance and mentoring from Pentabus Theatre Company. It is expected that the fellowship will take place between January and December 2015 through an agreed flexible programme.


Please note that the fellowship is subject to funding and that it is a competitive nationwide field. As part of the fellowship application we must interview at least three potential Fellows and put forward one as part of our funding application. The fellowship is not a salary but provides funding to cover time and resources needed to develop a talented individual.


If you are interested in this opportunity, please contact Crayg Ward at  with a short covering letter detailing why the opportunity appeals and how you imagine that you might benefit from it (2 sides of A4 Maximum) plus your CV.  All applicants are also asked to complete the equal opportunities form below.  If you have any queries please contact us on 01584 856564


Deadline for applications: 5pm Friday 11th July 2014.

If selected, you must be available for a meeting on Mon 28th July 2014.


Please note that, as laid out in the BBC’s guidelines, if you have previously worked for Pentabus Theatre Company in any paid capacity, you are not eligible to apply.


For more information on the Fellowship:


For more details on Pentabus:

mid * point: The Magic Flute By WA Mozart

Tuesday 1st to Saturday 5th July 2014 in the Main House at 7.15pm
Director/Producer: Sarah Helsby-Hughes | Musicians of Queen’s Park Sinfonia play from a bespoke score reduction by Musical Director/Conductor, James Longstaffe

0121 444 6842.
Tues 1st, Weds 2nd & Thurs 3rd July: £14
Fri 4th and Sat 5th July: £16.
Students: £6 on all nights.


Colourful, characterful and whimsical, Midland Opera’s ‘The Magic Flute’ sizzles with vocal fireworks including the ‘Queen of the Night’ aria. Whilst dream-filled musical storylines inspire the imagination and leave you wanting more.
Into a world of mystery and magic stumbles Tamino, a young man seeking the meaning of life, the universe and everything.
On his travels he picks up a strange bird-like companion and meets a heartbroken queen, longing for the return of her kidnapped daughter. During a quest to rescue the princess, Tamino begins to mature and discover that – in a man’s world – it can be hard to know who’s fooling who.
Can Tamino save Princess Pamina? And which dark soul has taken this beautiful girl away from her loving family?
Midland Opera have a policy of providing opportunities for all singers, including those at the start of a career in opera.  The cast this year reflects this enthusiasm, showcasing talented young singers alongside experienced Midland Opera soloists.
TAMINO – Mitesh Khatri
PAMINA – Lorraine Payne 
PAPAGENO – Themba Mvula & Samuel Lom
SARASTRO – Clive Thursfield
1ST LADY – Eleanor Hodkinson
2ND LADY – Alison Nicholls
3RD LADY – Katherine Cooper
1ST SPIRIT – Antonia Gentile
2ND SPIRIT – Claire Hollocks
3RD SPIRIT – Judith LeBreuilly
PAPAGENA – Fran Handley
SPEAKER – Ian McFarlane
2ND ARMED MAN – David Mellor
1ST PRIEST – Ryan Shore
2ND PRIEST – Andrew Cooley


Midland Opera
A great little opera company in Birmingham UK
Performing grand opera in English


mid * point: Alphabet Avenue at the Blue Orange Theatre


Saturday 19th July at 11am

Saturday 19th July at 3pm

Sunday 20th July at 11am

Wednesday 23rd July at 11am

Thursday 24th July at 11am

Saturday 26th July at 11am

Saturday 26th July at 3pm

Sunday 27th July at 11am


Alphabet Avenue

Join Zip, Zap and their friends Quirky and Chirpy as they explore numbers, music and language in the colourful world of Alphabet Avenue!


Alphabet Avenue is an interactive performance that explores children’s responses to their first experience of theatre. The part improvised, sensory performance is aimed at children aged between 0-6 years old and their grown-ups. The performance will offer a shared experience for both parent and child in a range of visual, auditory and sensory stimuli.


This exciting play especially created for the Blue Orange Theatre takes the audience on a delightful journey where the Narrator and his friends meet a variety of animals from different letters of the alphabet. Come with us as we explore letters, numbers, colours, sound, movement, and textures, helping Quirky and Chirpy to find the right answers, all with lots of enthusiasm, instrument playing, songs and even bubbles!


This fun filled performance along with the post-performance playing activities are an exciting, creative and stimulating way of learning which can be enjoyed by the whole family, from its youngest to its oldest members.

Alphabet Avenue has been funded by Birmingham City Council through their ‘Next Generation’ Arts Commissioning scheme. As part of the project we will also be performing Alphabet Avenue at Acorns Children’s Hospice and Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

mid * point: Birmingham Fest is back this July!

11th-27th July 2014

Last summer saw the launch of Birmingham’s newest theatre festival, Birmingham Fest. Designed as the first ever Fringe festival for the second city, four venues, including the Old Joint Stock Theatre, take part. From 11th-27th July, the festival is back and offers a programme of events packed full with new writing, dance, music, comedy and much more!

Here at the Old Joint Stock Theatre, we are pleased to announce our 2014 line-up…

Kicking off our line-up is Far From The Sea, a new play by our friends at the multi-award winning Theatre Absolute, Coventry. Told through the eyes of a contemporary Polish woman, an affluent early 90′s family, and a bombastic Alderman of a 1950′s local authority, Far From The Sea is a witty and darkly humorous play about power, place, and the industry of war.

Born and bred Black Country comedienne, Gemma Layton, brings her one-woman show, Mercedes Benson: The Pleasure is Yours, to Birmingham. Gemma has been a semi-finalist in several comedy competitions, including Laughing Horse and Funny Woman, and is one third of the sketch group Fun Bags.

Dedicated to creating vibrant, honest theatre and finding comedy in the unexpected and beauty in the mundane, Headless Doctor present their latest show. In Love Is a Cat Skin Rug, two girls ponder the timeworn question…what is love? The show is currently on tour and will appear at Boom Town Fair Festival and as part of Edinburgh Fringe’s Free Fringe in August.

South African based a’capella group Simply Soweto Encha will also be performing as part of their UK tour. Simply Soweto Encha showcase a unique blend of sound and rhythm where R’n’B, doo-wop, gospel, pop, and jazz meet on one stage. The show is an amalgamation of original material, cover songs as well as traditional African music from Zulu, Tswana and Xhosa cultures.

Birmingham’s Big Script writers group will be returning for a second year, with their new show Under The Sun, directed by Birmingham based director Graeme Braidwood. In a miscellany of new short plays, the contemporary, the bizarre, the serious, the absurd and the just plain funny will be explored to challenge audiences and to push the boundaries in new writing.

Manchester based sketch group, Thespianage, make their Birmingham debut with their show Sketch Appeal. With one Edinburgh show now successfully under their belts, as well as having performed with Phill Jupitus and Seann Walsh, this is an experienced and talented group perform for one night only before heading to Edinburgh.

Threnody for the Sky Childrenis a surreal modern fable that draws inspiration from Ovid’s epic poem Metamorphoses, and fuses mythology and music with a hint of zombie apocalypse. In a town in the middle of nowhere, a man convinced he was born with wings flees from the chaos outside and picks through his confused past.

A tale of two women held against their will, and the mind games they to keep one another alive. Locked in a room and chained apart, language is their only currency, and comes to mean everything when a single word becomes the hanging point between life and death. Nineis a harrowing, funny and tender account of the psychological price of survival. Cataclysm Theatre is a Midlands based company aiming to bring intimate and shocking theatre to audiences.

Theatre Exchange is a rolling, strolling, informal showcase of some of the best work-in-progress theatre in the region. This July, The Best of Theatre Exchange brings exciting new work to an intimate space as three thirty minute staged readings of the best work from their recent visits to Birmingham Rep, Coventry’s Theatre Absolute and the Old Joint Stock itself are presented.

An incident has occurred. The authorities are outraged. The actors are upset. Someone in the audience knows something…Letter’s to Eric Theatre Company present Mark Ravenhill’s Yesterday an Incident Occurred, questioning the behaviour of the society we live in by asking Are we happy to accept widespread surveillance as a price for safety? What lengths are we prepared to go to, to uncover perpetrators of violent crime?

As well as all the performances, we also have two special one off workshops as part of Birmingham Fest, led by experienced local director Tracey Street ( Czech National Theatre, Belgrade Theatre, National Youth Theatre).  Intro to Acting offers anybody and everybody to try their hand at acting for the first time in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. Tracey’s second workshop, Auditioning for Drama Schools, will teach you about good audition techniques, choice of audition speeches, helping develop those pieces into performance. Both are taster workshops ahead of the full courses starting at the OJS in September.

Tickets are now on sale for all performances and workshops.

For more details about our Birmingham Fest line-up, please visit

Old Joint Stock Pub & Theatre


Tel: 0121 200 0946




Bringing Theatre to the Heart of Birmingham




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The Official Birmingham Hippodrome Blog: Bringing a touch of theatre into your workplace…

Creative Shift’s Helga Henry is our guest blogger this week.  She writes about what businesses can learn from One Man, Two Guvnors currently running at the Hippodrome until Saturday… The second UK tour of the National Theatre’s One Man, Two Guvnors hit the stage this week. The show is a joyous few hours of theatre […]

The Official Birmingham Hippodrome Blog: Birmingham gets with The Craze…

Press & PR Assistant, Ben Wooldridge (@benwooldridge) writes… Yesterday, Swingin’ 60’s on-stage band The Craze from the National Theatre’s hit production of One Man, Two Guvnors treated the streets of Birmingham outside the theatre to a busking session full of songs from the show and plenty of 1960′s style. Donned in swanky 1960’s gear, The Craze played their one and […]

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Gentrification


As he handed over the change he confided in me “this is the last Saturday we’ll be open”. Damn, damn, damn, damn, DAMN! I love this cafe, I love everything about it and it’s been squeezed out because of US!

I love caffs. I don’t really like coffee houses. There’s a clue in the company name. I like moulded plastic seats, Formica tables, high-fat low-cost all-day breakfasts, sitting with builders and pensioners, being called “love”, “pet” and “mate” by the staff. The Warstone Cafe has been my favourite for some time but now it’s gone.

The Jewellery Quarter has been gentrifying. Construction has re-started on the next tsunami of luxury apartments. With the apartments have come the cafés (note the accent). It has been progressively possible to pay more and more for less and less. The Golden Square is under construction, creating an informal public meeting place where there was once a pockmarked car park. Warstone Cafe will look out over the square (currently they look out on its building site) for the privilege their rent has gone up and they have had to go.

Theatre companies moving into an area is a sure sign that regeneration is just a few years off, as we first walked in the cafe staff must have known we signaled the beginning of the end, but despite this they were always friendly and polite. I asked what the plan was. There didn’t seem to be much of a plan, a mobile catering business perhaps. I left a tip, enough to buy all the staff a pint or glass of wine – conscience salving cash. There are only so many fry-ups one man and his family can eat. I’m sorry it wasn’t enough. I wish the staff well, but doubt we’ll be seeing them in whatever coffee house springs up in its place.

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Kindness to Ulfah

366 Days Of Kindness from Bernadette Russell on Vimeo.

Stan’s Cafe associate artist Bernadette Russell has her children’s book out. Do Nice, Be Kind, Spread Happy is a spin off from her much discussed 366 Days of Kindness project. Primarily social activism, secondarily very entertaining theatre show, tertiarilly (is that a word) a DIY manual for children and their adults, this is the undertaking that keeps on giving – literally. It’s a lovely volume.

The week’s second DIY manual is DIY, edited by Robert Jude Daniels of Chichester University and Bootworks. It is a diverting compendium of ‘how to make theatre’ essays from a host of UK companies, including lots of refreshingly fresh faces. Predictably Stan’s Cafe grasped the stick at totally the wrong end and contributed an essay about audiences doing it themselves. It’s an unashamedly niche read, but often very nicely designed and a good introduction to lots of companies whose work you’d have to go well out of your way to encounter live and in the flesh.

Moving more mainstream, friend of Stan Luke Brown has just had is first novel published. My Biggest Lie was launched at Ikon last month. The book is currently resident on the other bedside table, I look forward to reading it when it crosses over – the promise is that it’s both clever and funny.

On my side One Hell of A Gamble is currently being cross referenced with One Minute To Midnight for Any Fool Can Start A War but frankly after to day’s excellent showing at Billesley Primary School I don’t know why I’m bothering, they’re perfectly capable of generating a show’s worth of excellent material on their own. Their brainstormed contributions to Operation Mongoose scheming to assasinate Fidel Castro are hilarious and spot on.

Given the urgency of my Cuban missile swotting I shouldn’t be reading Russell Hoban’s The Bat Tattoo, but it had been on my shelf unread way too long and there was that moment when I was waiting for the others to be ready to leave the house and I was only going to read the first couple of pages… I love Russell Hoban. Reviews of his novels seem to always classify his work as strange but I don’t think of it that way at all. I just find them massively comforting. The Bat Tattoo is no exception.

More challening is Karima Bennoune’s Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here. It’s a stark reminder that whilst here we may whinge about a lack of money or difficulties finding venues or audience there are artists elsewhere in the world risking their lives in order present their art to a public. A humbling read.

And lest we grow complacent let’s not ignore the plight of Birmingham’s own Ulfah Arts whose HQ was destroyed by arsonists last week. Sometimes it takes guts to make art way beyond the petty aesthetic anxieties Stan’s Cafe suffer – respect is due.