Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Official Birmingham Hippodrome Blog: Seriously scary Sweeney Todd facts!

As the nation celebrates Halloween here’s some seriously scary facts about Welsh National Opera’s brand new musical production of Sweeney Todd which you can see here from 19-21 November!  There are 6 types of stage blood used in each performance of Sweeney Todd, and they come in a variety of thicknesses – great for spurting […]

mid * point: Join us next Friday afternoon for more Many & Varied inspiration, making connections & mutual support

Many & Varied Salon #4

Join us for another afternoon of inspiration, making connections and mutual support.

Get your FREE tickets now at manyvaried.eventbrite.com
1-5pm, Friday 6th November 2015
The Bond, Fazeley Street, Digbeth, B5 5SE

Our November Salon is co-curated with Alexa Torlo from Birmingham City University’s Cross Innovation Team; a group who have experience in running interactive events and workshops that encourage multidisciplinary working, co-creation and co-design.

At this, the penultimate Salon in our current programme, they will provide us with a chance to think together about what Many & Varied could look like in the future. Mark Brill will lead a practical workshop exploring creative ways to solve the challenges facing our community now and into the future.

The afternoon consists of a mixture of hands on practical and discussion sessions and opportunities to chat with other attendees. All are welcome; whatever your background. We provide tea and cake to facilitate the process!

More details are available on the Eventbrite sign-up page.

Work in Progress; what are you working on?

A core part of the Salons is giving people a chance to talk about, demo and ask questions of the projects they’re working on at the moment. That means you! How can a room full of curious, intelligent people help you move forward?

Get in touch if you’d like to harness the power of a many and varied audience to feed into your work.

Once again, the link to book your place is: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/many-varied-salon-november-registration-17245875879

See you there!
Katie Day (The Other Way Works) and Nikki Pugh


Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Manual Crossfade

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So many things are possible now! In our earliest shows I directed and ran the lights and sound. The lighting was fun, choose which of twelve channels of light to have up at what level on the A Fader, then prep the next cue on the B Fader and when the moment came pull paired sliders down to cross-fade between the two, then reset the A Fader for Cue Number 3. To the side for the lighting desk two cassette players would sit one on top of the other with blobs of white insulation tape marking the play and stop buttons.

I enjoyed operating the shows and hated it. I was brilliant at it and terrible at it. It allowed me to feel I was on stage with the actors but I was supposed to be the director. I was brilliant because when I remembered to do the cues I did them with total artistic sympathy for the action and perfect timing, but I was terrible because I often didn’t remember, having been sucked into watching as a director not an operator.

To be honest it was a relief when we recruited Arvo to take care of operations and simultaneously Jon Ward enabled us to be early adopters of CD technology. Now A Translation of Shadows runs off a laptop. The computer splits, fades, plays and resizes the video, it runs lighting cues from the video’s time-code via a midi link to the venue’s desk, synchronises lighting and audio cues to the operator’s press of the space-bar and drops effects over the live microphone feed it processes.
So many tremendously complicated effects are possible now. Watching the beautifully slick and atmospheric Weaklings by the Chris Goode & Company the other week I found myself reflecting that the level of polish they had with video, lights and sound would previously have felt the exclusive preserve of a company with the resources of The Wooster Group or Robert Lepage.

Having been introduced to this technology in A Translation of Shadows Nina was keen to make use of it when reviving The Cleansing of Constance Brown. She asked if I had any problems with this. I said “no, of course not…” so she starts programming, “of course philosophically I don’t really approve of pre-set fade rates”.

Actors modulate their performances according to the unique circumstances of every performance, so there seems something wrong with the lights (and now sound) having a pre-determined and inflexible fade time. For one performance a 5 second fade may be perfect, but who is to say that the next evening 5.2 seconds may not be better? This caveat put Nina off her stride for a bit, but ultimately she came think Yarker’s welcome to his theorising but out in the real world no one will notice the difference. I don’t mind, back at home we have a 24 channel manual desk for the likes of me and we run The Cardinals from a single preset six channel lighting board and a portable twin cassette deck. Different shows need different solution but ultimately it seems almost anything is possible.

The Official Birmingham Hippodrome Blog: Help us raise money for our Heritage Project with the Big Give Christmas Challenge!

Our Development team have been very busy since we were accepted into this year’s Big Give Christmas Challenge, as we attempt to raise £12,000 in less than 2 days this December! The Big Give is supporting Hippodrome Heritage – this wonderful project will see us bring to life over 100 years of theatre history and […]

The Official Birmingham Hippodrome Blog: Help us raise money for our Heritage Project with the Big Give Christmas Challenge!

Our Development team have been very busy since we were accepted into this year’s Big Give Christmas Challenge, as we attempt to raise £12,000 in less than 2 days this December! The Big Give is supporting Hippodrome Heritage – this wonderful project will see us bring to life over 100 years of theatre history and […]

» Theatre: World Premiere: In The Motherhood, Outer Circle Arts

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In the Motherhood, produced by Birmingham-based Outer Circle Arts, premieres at Birmingham REP this November:

Nita and Bonnie run the PTA in their charming village with brutal efficiency. Their enterprising and sometimes shocking approach to fundraising exploits the deep frustrations and struggles of being a mum, with highly lucrative results.

Into this world of competitive parenting drops Jacs, a savvy city type who’s looking to make an impression. But this PTA doesn’t let just anyone in. You have to earn the right to join the committee.

In The Motherhood is the new play from Hayley Pepler whose script for The Shadow Of Ingestre Hall has recently been nominated for Best Drama at the Royal Television Society (Midlands) Awards.

3rd & 4th November, Book through The Box!

 

The Official Birmingham Hippodrome Blog: 6 ton chiller installed on roof of Hippodrome!

A big production took place off stage this weekend (25 Oct) when our operations team took charge of one of their biggest performances to date! A massive 300 ton crane was erected in Inge Street to help lift a new 6 ton chiller onto our roof which helps operate our air-conditioning system. If  a chiller […]

The Official Birmingham Hippodrome Blog: 6 ton chiller installed on roof of Hippodrome!

A big production took place off stage this weekend (25 Oct) when our operations team took charge of one of their biggest performances to date! A massive 300 ton crane was erected in Inge Street to help lift a new 6 ton chiller onto our roof which helps operate our air-conditioning system. If  a chiller […]

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Constance Re-creation

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Photo: Graeme Braidwood

What an aching nostalgia it is to be reunited with The Cleansing of Constance Brown. We have memories and photos and videos but to see it coming alive in front of me again is breathtaking, a crushing reminder how inadequate those other forms are. The euphoria of seeing this show reanimating is given extra piquancy by the thought that this may be the last time that we will all be together; for of course the emotion of the show isn’t exclusively about the show, it is also about these people on this shared mission, bound in our joint endeavour, fused by the history of this thing we do when we are together.

Some theatre theorists would have this, our corridor, as a ‘sacred space’, it’s not. When the three phase power floods it with light and the four channel amp batters it with sound and the smoke floods into it then it is the crucible where the reaction happens. This space is a reliquary piled high with charged symbolic artefacts each of which must have its place in its prescribed position if the ritual is to work its magic.

This act is something that can never be repeated; it can only be recreated. We are haunted by elusive ghosts of the old show, old notes, old props, costumes that have worn out or no longer fit. Nina’s laptop shows the corridor populated with courtroom figures, but above Harry is in the same space quietly sweeping, which is the ghost?

The official written record is merely a schematic embellished by different people’s memories and performers’ personal notes, softened to tissue by touch. There are sheets of A4 pinned to the back of the set that everyone refers to but no one quite trusts and the video record is no more reliable, a flawed and outdated deity still turned to for guidance in times of trouble, obscure and difficult to decipher, helpful but only to a point. From this point on the re-creation is in our hands, to make of it what we can, anything that we mis-remember or choose to alter will be part of the show’s evolutionary change.

I was proud of Yarker Junior the other day, she was talking about seeing The Translation of Shadows for the umpteenth time and she said “I like seeing a theatre show lots of times because it’s always different, films are always the same”. How right she is.