Monthly Archives: August 2015

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Edinburgh 2015


The Edinburgh Festival / Fringe is an amazing brand. I can describe any number of impressive contracts Stan’s Cafe may have secured and people are generally unimpressed but mention you’re off to Edinburgh for the Fringe and their eyes light up. It doesn’t seem to matter that the only skill you need to be ‘on The Fringe’ is the ability to make a few phone calls and write a couple of cheques, as far as they are concerned you are going to participate in something they have actually heard of, that they know is big and which holds an excitement and romance for them.

Intellectually I subscribe to the romance: the celebration of theatre, the chaotic mix of so many people from different places with different agendas gathering to watch and perform so many different shows with so many different aesthetics. Emotionally I struggle.

Edinburgh always comes as an agoraphobic jolt. After two years of grafting away in relative isolation, to be faced with the hundreds of pages of fringe brochure packed with show listings, a city bristling with venues, plastered with posters and carpeted by fliers is too much and the notion of adding another show to the melee seems absurd. In the hyperbolic hysteria of superlatives and blizzard of stars awarded by who knows who for who knows what, I find my confidence start to crumble.

We are among those groups that treat Edinburgh like a trade fair. It is a fantastic opportunity to meet people and see what other people are up to but to take a show up there is a major investment and we have to gamble on getting get enough key people through the door to make it worthwhile. We need someone, hopefully someones to see it and like it enough to book it – with luck the financial gamble pays back in cash at some point.

Being part of the British Council Showcase loads the dice in your favour because more than a hundred international promoters have your show endorsed in a special brochure, on a mobile friendly website backed up with free tickets and advocacy. We have benefited enormously from this help in the past but have not been selected for the last three showcases (they happen in odd numbered years). Two years ago, confident that The Cardinals would appeal to promoters we gambled on taking the show up for just three performances. We struggled to get promoters in, but a few did come and we were fortunate ended up with the great tour of North America and Australia which happened earlier this year.

Edinburgh 2015 feels like more of a gamble. It’s now six years since we were last in the showcase so momentum and contacts with promoters have attenuated further, A Translation of Shadows is a less obvious candidate for international success than The Cardinals was, but we feel we need to have a presence in Edinburgh and to offer an opportunity people to see what we are up to now.

I haven’t been dealing very well with the stress of this gamble, which of course formed the ideal excuse to visit one of my favourite haunts, Mum’s Great Comfort Food, which I have mentioned on these pages before.

Ultimately reverting to being an audience member helped me more even than Mums. Seeking to entertain a 10 year old helped me re-engage with the romance of Edinburgh. We saw En Avant Marche in my favourite Edinburgh venue Kings Theatre as part of the international festival. We saw the entertaining romp Edmund the Learned Pig and a touch of engaging improvisation from You Me and Monkey.

We won’t know for some time if there is a financial payback from this year’s Edinburgh gamble but some people have come and many have said nice things. Who knows, I’ve fled to Bonn where everything seems a lot more normal.

The Official Birmingham Hippodrome Blog: We hear from dance company Jigsaw Collective ahead of their performance at Colour of Hip Hop this Sunday

Among the dance acts performing at Sunday’s Colour of Hip Hop event at Summer in Southside is Jigsaw Collective, whose young performers are aged between 12 and 18. Having formed the company with a very different line-up for last year’s Breakin’ Convention, director Nathan Lafayette spoke to our Hippodrome Ambassadors Heather and Sipho about how […]


Arts All Over The Place presents  ‘ONE IN FOUR’
A multi-arts festival that promotes positive mental health
awareness starting Monday 5th October ( V.I.P evening
preview). Key events are National Poetry Day  (8th) and
World Mental Health Day (10th),  culminating in The Mad
Hatter’s Sunday Tea Ball and Auction on Sunday 11th
October, 2 p.m– 4 p.m. The week will also showcase and
launch Community Safety and Stress in the Workplace
initiatives with local companies. All of this will be held at
The Bond, 180-182 Fazeley Street, Digbeth, Birmingham
 B5 5SE. This is within the Eastside regeneration area of
Birmingham City Centre.
Please look out for our forthcoming festival

By working with you, we can tackle the stigma surrounding
mental health issues. We will achieve this by bringing
people together to experience and enjoy a meaningful and
exciting interactive arts exhibition, pop-up events and
workshops. There will be opportunities to share our best
practice together and to continue to show the impact that
creativity has on all of our mental well-being. By doing
this we can put positive mental health awareness further on
the map in the West Midlands.

If you are an individual who has experienced mental health
issues, or an artist or community group or a
company/specialist who works in the mental health sector
with service users, then we would really love to hear from
you. There are a number ways in which you can be
Visual Arts and Poetry

Would you like the free opportunity to have any framed
visual art work and sculpture or poetry included in the
gallery exhibition? Please send us some images or files of
your work with a covering email to
However, please note that you or someone else on your behalf
must be able to drop off your work at The Bond on
Sunday  4th October  between  4p.m.  and
6p.m. and collect on the 11th October between 2p.m. and
4p.m. We aim to include at least one piece of art from every
applicant. Nearer the time, we will also be looking for
exhibition volunteers and service users to act as stewards
and stall holders for our World Mental Health Day

Why not pop along and find out more at one of our Mad
Hatter’s Charity Evening warm-up events at The Sun at the
Station, 7 High Street, King’s Heath, Birmingham B14 7BB.
The shows run from 7pm till late. Entrance £2 donation
to  A.A.O.T.P.

Thursday 10th September – Mad Hatter’s Musicology
(Featuring local
bands and artists)Thursday
24th September – Mad Hatter’s Wonderland of Laughter
Poetry and Comedy (a tribute to Lewis Carroll).
For any further information, please contact Rachel Green F.R.S.A
(Project Manager) on 07789893203

mid * point: Box of Frogs

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Improv Beginners’ evening classes
– don’t miss the Early Bird!
No experience required.

Just 2 weeks left to book your Early Bird place on Box of Frogs eight-week improv beginners’ course.  Starting at the Blue Orange Theatre onThursday 8th October 2015.  Learn the core skills of improvised comedy.  Discover the joy, freedom and challenge of Improv.  Learn to be more creative and more playful.  Low-pressure, high-enjoyment classes in a fun, friendly,  supportive and stress-free environment.

Complete beginners are welcome. You don’t need any drama, acting, comedy or improv experience whatsoever.  You don’t have to be clever, fast or funny either!   Also good for writers, actors and comedians looking to widen their  skills and boost their confidence.

Improv is not the same as stand-up; you’re not alone on stage and it’s not about telling jokes or being really quick and witty.  It’s about  working together as a team with other improvisers to spontaneously create group stories, scenes & sketches.

Over a course of 8 weekly workshops you’ll progress as a team while learning core improvisation skills like Spontaneity, Listening, YesAnd, Character, Scenes, Story and having fun with improvisation.

Led by Jon Trevor, founder and leader of Box of Frogs

Dates – Thursday nights from October 8th to November 26th 2015
Times – 7.30pm – 9.30pm
Cost – just £75 for the whole course – buy before September 8th for Early Bird price of just £60.  What a great Xmas gift!

Blue Orange Theatre
118 Great Hampton Street
B18 6AD

Book your place now on the Blue Orange Website  Places allocated on first come/first served basis.

Please forward this email to anyone you think might be interested.

Jon Trevor
Chief Frog
0121 684 1053

Our mailing address is:

Box of Frogs Impro


Birmingham, W Mids B13

United Kingdom

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Birmingham Repertory Theatre is to create a professional training programme for local actors. The new initiative will form part of the company’s successful REP Foundry artist development programme with the new Foundry actors’ group offering 10 West Midlands based actors, aged 18-30, weekly training sessions over six months.

REP Foundry was launched in 2013 by The REP’s artistic director, Roxana Silbert, as a way of discovering and supporting local writers, directors and theatre makers at the beginning of their careers. Now, REP Foundry will offer local actors the same opportunity. It will be funded by a number of sources including trusts, foundations and local philanthropists meaning actors will not have to pay any fees.

The decision to start a REP Foundry strand specifically for actors was to fill what Roxana Silbert believes as a gap in the industry. As she explains:

“The Foundry actors’ group above all is an opportunity aimed at West Midlands based actors who may not have been to drama school or for whom drama school wasn’t or isn’t an affordable option.  It aims to fill what we perceive to be a gap in the industry – that is, free professional support, training and learning with real hands on experience at a leading regional producing theatre.

“We have a remarkable history of supporting and nurturing theatre artists that goes back to our visionary founder Sir Barry Jackson and I’m thrilled that we are able to continue his legacy by forming a new REP Foundry section for emerging actors.”

As well as the weekly sessions there will be several intensive week-long programmes. The focus of the training will be devised and physical theatre, multi-disciplinary work and new writing alongside key skills such as movement and voice as well as casting and industry orientation. The aspiration is to form a group that will showcase the region’s talent and also create links with the existing REP Foundry writers, directors and theatres makers with the aim of them extending their own individual skills whilst developing new work together.
The REP has a long legacy of encouraging new writers and theatre directors, and REP Foundry has rapidly established itself as a springboard for emerging talent.  In its first two years, and having supported 36 artists, there have been a number of successes.  This year four former Foundry artists will have premiered their plays at The REP – Stephanie Ridings, Hannah Graham, Selina Thompson and Paul O’Donnell.  Spoken-word artist Amerah Saleh has been made an Associate Artist of The REP, 2013 Foundry artist Jo Newman is now Resident Assistant Director as part of the Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme at Salisbury Playhouse, playwright Joe White is now the Channel 4 Playwright in residence at Shropshire-based Pentabus Theatre and writer / performer Francesca Millican-Slater has premiered and toured her one-woman show, The Forensics of a Flat.

The REP Foundry actors’ group will begin in October 2015 and will run for 6 months ending with a showcase in April to be held in both Birmingham and London. The course will be run by The REP’s Associate Director, Alexander Zeldin and Assistant Director, Daniel Bailey.

A series of workshops will be held across Birmingham in September and early October for those interested in applying to be part of this new wing of the REP Foundry. Anyone wishing to apply must be based in the West Midlands, 18-30 years of age and not have received a full time drama school education. To find out more .


For further information please call Clare Jepson-Homer on Tel: 0121 245 2072 / 07807 132041

The Official Birmingham Hippodrome Blog: Brum duo Transits chat to us ahead of their set at Summer in Southside afterparty MIX UP

Having formed just a few months ago at the start of the year, Birmingham duo Transits are already attracting more attention than either of them could have anticipated. Comprised of guitarist Elizabeth “Zeddie” Lawal and poet and vocalist Louisa Robbin, the up-and-coming band will be performing at MIX UP, Saturday night’s Summer in Southside after […]

mid * point: Many & Varied Salon – 4th September – featuring The McGuires’s new Theatre Book: Macbeth

The Many & Varied Salon has a theatre flavour in September, and is co-curated with Sarah Ellis from the RSC.
It takes place at The Bond in Digbeth, 1-5pm, Friday 4th September.
The event is aimed at artists, theatre makers, technologists and more.
Many & Varied is run by Katie Day (The Other Way Works) & Nikki Pugh.

Only 10 places left – book now!
Book your free place here –

Our speakers are Davy & Kristin McGuire, who will be talking about their practice, with a focus on their ‘Theatre Book – Macbeth’ – a battery powered cinematic pop-up book.

The McGuires head an award winning creative studio that design unique visual experiences through art installations and theatrical projects. As well as creating bespoke projects for cultural institutions and brands, they produce and sell their own works through international galleries.
Davy and Kristin‘s hybrid art works are delicate, filigree fantasies built with fragile materials that are momentarily brought to life through digital projections and silent storytelling.

Sarah Ellis is an award winning producer currently working as Head of Digital Development for the Royal Shakespeare Company to explore new artistic initiatives and partnerships.

Sharing their work-in-progress will be Sophie Bullock and Anna Horton who make up artist duo, One Five West. For Many & Varied they will displaying elements of their work, ‘Code and Carpentry’, ahead of a residency at Birmingham Open Media and exhibition at Fierce Festival.
They are interested in how they can utilise technology to encourage physical interaction and movement. This currently exists in the form of DIY theramins, contact mics, sensors and more. They will be testing out these digital elements at the salon, and would like to discuss how the work is progressing, and listen to any suggestions to the works development.
One Five West is currently supported by Arts Council England.

More information and booking here –

The Official Birmingham Hippodrome Blog: Hear from MIXUP act Alisha Kadir ahead of her acoustic set at Summer in Southside afterparty

With just three days left till Summer in Southside, our Hippodrome Ambassadors Heather and Sipho caught up with some of the artists set to perform at the festival to find out more about their work. They chatted to singer-songwriter Alisha Kadir, one of four acoustic acts opening Saturday night’s MIX UP event in the Stageside […]