Monthly Archives: March 2016

Theatre: PILOT Nights at Stirchley Baths

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Open to theatre makers from across the UK, PILOT Nights take place in venues across the West Midlands. Each event is programmed and managed by a Co-Pilot, in conjunction with the core PILOT Nights team. Co-Pilots are practising artists with an interest in producing/curating.  Having a different Co-Pilot for each event ensures the programme remains diverse and exciting, and places artists at the heart of PILOT Nights.

PILOT Nights encourages applications from diverse sections of the theatre-making community and welcomes applications from disabled artists. Please contact PILOT Nights if you would like the application form in alternative formats, or have any alternative access needs.

The Co-Pilot:

Birmingham based arts collective, Play More, create subversive, playful and humorous experiences in non-theatre spaces to encourage people to get involved and play more. They have delivered work in factories, pubs, city squares and music festivals with previous partners including the mac, Birmingham Hippodrome and Birmingham University. They like immersive and exploratory performance, working in unusual spaces and exploring the space between performance, spectacle and game

The Venue:
Stirchley Baths is a newly opened community hub in restored Edwardian Swimming baths. Please bear in mind that due to the restrictions of the venue there will be basic technical support and there will be no blackout in the space. There will be a main stage space created but there is also a balcony space that can be used for performance if an interest is expressed in that area. You can also view images here and learn more about the space by visiting the website here.

Art SOAK:
Art SOAK festival is produced by Arts Forum Selly Oak & aims to give local residents an opportunity to immerse themselves in the local arts scene with performances, workshops & creative walks throughout the Selly Oak district.. 2016 will be the 5th Art SOAK.

If you have any questions or concerns please emailpilotnights@gmail.com.  We want you to apply and we want to know what you can do.

Performance date: Thursday 12th May 2016 Stirchley Baths, 2-4 Bournville Lane, Birmingham B30 2JT

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Enjoy your evening.

cpr

Man down! Check you’re not going to slip on pools of vomit or urine. Approach, slap and shout. No response. Call for help “get an ambulance”. Ear to mouth and nose, look at hand on sternum, ten secs max, no breath. Hand on head and chin, hyper extend neck open mouth, look all around inside, all clear. Where the ribs meet, three fingers up, heal of hand, fingers interlocked, thirty compressions, two each second, one third body depth down, down, go! If you break their ribs so what, they’re about to die. Keep the hyper extension, squeeze nostrils closed, seal your mouth over theirs and blow deep and hard one second, once more, then back for another thirty compressions and on and on. If they vomit turn their head to the side, scoop it out. “Your job is to keep them alive for nine minutes”.

Attending a show @ A E Harris? Don’t worry you’re in safe hands, we’ve had the training. Enjoy your evening.

Black Country Touring: The return of ‘Al Bowly’s Croon Manifesto’

Al Bowly’s Croon Manifesto makes a welcome return to the Black Country, come along and enjoy an evening of theatre, music and dancing created by Untied Artists. The performance centres around the life of popular jazz crooner and band leader Al Bowly, who … Continued

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Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: If I stay there will be trouble, if I go…

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So the CBI guy, speaking in a personal capacity said “out” and had was kicked out.

The Bank of England guy said “out” could cause trouble and that caused him trouble.

The Queen is being interpreted as saying “out” but that was years ago before anyone was asking so she can’t have been answering and now she’d say nothing.

So where does Stan stand?

Well, we have a risk register and we are going to enter Britain leaving the European Union as a risk for Stan’s Cafe but where do we place it on the likelihood / severity matrix? At this point, damp finger in the air, people around the world with a taste for ‘change’, with media massed in the ‘out’ camp reporting on the refugee camps, maybe we go ‘quite’ on the likely. The impact axis is even more tricky to evaluate.

If leaving the EU spooks the markets because of its uncertain implications for trade then the value of sterling could drop we become cheap for international promoters and get more bookings. Of course if the markets react the other way then we become more expensive and overseas bookings could drop.

Then there are questions about visas. When we are booked to perform in the United States our hosts have to build a big dossier setting out why our actors have to travel to perform the show rather than us using US actors. This is a time consuming and expensive business that culminates in us having to send all our actors down to the embassy in London for an early morning visa interview appointment that requires an overnight stay; if we were required to do the same thing prior to a gig in Germany that would be an utter nightmare.

It should be crazy to happen even on exit but there have to be benefits to being in the EU club, if none of these benefits are withdrawn when you leave what would the point of being a member of the club, what would stop everyone else leaving? There must be some penalties on exit because if there were only upside surely everyone would go.

Then there are reciprocal tax agreements for the company that mean that in theory we don’t have to pay tax on our shows in the country where we perform them (this isn’t a Facebook kind of thing I promise). If rules change this could become a problem. It’s proved tricky in Canada for us in the past, but to be honest it has also proved tricky more recently in EU member Poland.

We can only speculate. Everyone is saying the thing they think will persuade others to join their prejudice. I am prejudiced. I love being European. I love being connected to all those other member countries. Given that I often don’t vote for the domestic government I get I don’t mind this government being in tension with European government I voted for but don’t control. I think of it as a balance of powers.

So how do we mitigate this risk? Maybe Stan’s Cafe should lobby for ‘in’.

Little Earthquake: Film Introduction: Rashomon

In October 2015, we presented Even The Ghost Is Lying, a Japanese medieval murder mystery played out on the travelators and balconies of the Library of Birmingham.

Commissioned by the Birmingham Literature Festival, the piece was inspired by a short story which gave rise to Akira Kurosawa’s Oscar-winning film, Rashomon, which was screened alongside the performances. Philip was invited to introduce the screening, and you can read a transcript of his introduction below.

Japanese silent films were never really silent. In the early days, a benshi would stand at the side of the screen just like I’m doing now, to introduce, narrate and comment on the film. When sound came in, the benshi struggled to compete with the voices coming from the screen, and by the mid-1930s, they had almost entirely been phased out.

But in 1950, a film was released whose unconventional style and structure is said to have worried some cinema managers so much that they desperately dragged some aged benshi out of retirement so they could explain what was going on to the confused audience members.

That film was Rashomon. It was adapted by screenwriter Shinobu Hashimoto and director Akira Kurosawa from two short stories by the modernist author Ryunosuke Akutagawa: Rashomon and Yabu No Naka (In A Grove.) The former only really contributes the title and the framing device; it’s the latter which provides the body of the film (no pun intended).

We are transported back to the forest around 12th-century Kyoto (where the film crew were plagued by leeches dropping onto them from the trees), for a medieval murder mystery which teases and tantalises us about how that body came to be lying there in the first place. Everyone seems desperate to admit responsibility. Some of the details match up. But the differences between each account are massive.

More so than the film it inspired, In A Grove sticks to its guns and makes it impossible, and in fact pointless, to try and sort this all out. The need to solve the case, to come away with a definitive answer, may be very important for us but not for Akutagawa.

The studio was expecting a fairly cheap swords-and-samurai period romp. They didn’t get one. Kurosawa and Hashimoto’s script irons out some of the contradictions, but still offers us not one unreliable narrator, but five. So… Is the film exploring the nature of truth? The subjectivity of memory? Perceptions of reality? What is it about?

Masaichi Nagata, the head of the studio, had no idea. He walked out of the first screening, took his name off the credits and demoted the executives who had given it the green light. It turned out to be a surprise domestic hit, though, and went on to win the Golden Lion, the top prize at the 1951 Venice Film Festival. In an echo of the film’s own conflicting perspectives, Nagata suddenly started giving TV interviews taking full credit for the film. He even kept the lion statuette for himself.

If you find yourself inexplicably thinking of Torvill and Dean during the screening, you aren’t going mad – Kurosawa was obsessed with Ravel’s Bolero, then almost unknown in Japan, and encouraged his composer to absorb bits of it into the score.

65 years later, the influence of Akutagawa’s subversive story and Kurosawa’s studio-panicking film still run deep. There’s a very sweet moment in an episode of The Simpsons where the family end up going on a surprise trip to Tokyo. Sitting on the plane as it takes off, Marge tries to get her husband excited about the holiday. “Come on, Homer,” she says. “Japan’ll be fun! You liked Rashomon.” Homer huffs, looks out the window and snaps, “That’s not how I remember it.”

Much more so than Homer did, I hope you enjoy the film. Thankyou for listening.

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Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: CETT Puppets

cylinderheadsCETT

What greater privilege can there be that helping to teach the teachers?

On Wednesday I teamed up with Jim “Art Games” Morris for our final engagement with this year’s cohort of trainees from Central England Teacher Training. Their course started back in early September with A City Adventure and we met up again in November to put some creative thinking in around their placements in school.

Their course is unusual for the emphasis it places on creative teaching and the arts, which is why were were called in along side a number of other arts organisations around Birmingham. Yesterday I took Jim in because I thought the students would be inspired not just by the puppets he makes but by the way he works with the pupils to make them.

We started with a Year 2 class at Victoria Park Academy and Jim making bird puppets with them and the trainees watching. For the second lesson Jim taught the trainees made their own ‘cylinder head’ puppets. After this we discussed his approach, the strategies behind it and how it works. After lunch we worked with the trainees as they used both sets of puppets to create brief puppet shows. These shows took the same stating points as we used earlier in the year with Tiverton Academy, where we will be creating a much bigger puppet show in the summer. Our emphasis here was on how the puppets allow students to talk about sophisticated issues around emigration and immigration.

It was great fun working with the trainees and seeing their puppet shows develop. To be honest it was also lovely to be giving a bit of directorial advice again. It feels so long since we were in a rehearsal room. All that changes next week!

mid * point: The Importance of Being Earnest

PERFORMANCE DATES –

Thursday 28th April at 7.45pm Wednesday 4th May at 7.45pm
Friday 29th April at 7.45pm Thursday 5th May at 7.45pm
Saturday 30th April at 2.30pm Friday 6th May at 7.45pm
Saturday 30th April at 7.45pm Saturday 7th May at 2.30pm
Tuesday 3rd May at 7.45pm Saturday 7th May at 7.45pm

 

The Importance of Being Earnest

The dependable Jack Worthing, a pillar of the community, is profoundly in love with Gwendolyn Fairfax, daughter to the imposing Lady Bracknell.

 

Jack’s closest friend, the dashing aristocratic playboy Algernon Moncrieff, is besotted with Jack’s ward, the beautiful (and extremely wealthy) Cecily Cardew.

 

Sadly for both suitors, however, Gwendolyn and Cecily are in love with someone else. Someone called Ernest . . .

 

All is not lost, however, as it seems that Ernest bears a striking resemblance to Jack – and, strangely, also to Algy. Hardly surprising, given that Ernest is an imaginary “brother” invented by Jack allowing him to woo Gwendolyn in disguise – and also an alter ego that Algy assumes to pay court to Cecily under Jack’s very nose.

 

But when a series of revelations concerning handbags, nannies, novels, prams, lost babies and Victoria Station threaten to unravel Jack and Algy’s web of deception, the men are forced to reveal their true identities – or are they . . ?

 

The Blue Orange Theatre presents Oscar Wilde’s comedy of manners for serious people featuring one of British Theatre’s famous battle-axes and the perfect play for a Spring evening.


mid * point: Open Door 18th April

Open Door at The REP gives local playwrights space to test out new work. In ‘Doubled Up’ two of the region’s leading writers present rehearsed excerpts from their latest plays.

We are presenting two new plays exploring historical world events that continue to resonate with our concerns today. Their effects reach out from the past via terrorism, globalisation, human exodus and even on the radioactive dust covered wings of our migrating birds.

Three Wheels On The Wagon by Tim Stimpson
Adapted from the memoir by Tony Fisher. Music by Jonathan Girling.

Three young lads from Birmingham set out to travel to the Middle East – not to fight, but to see Jerusalem. Set in 1966, this true story paints an idiosyncratic and affectionate picture of a time when the Iron Curtain still divided Europe, when Arab nationalism trumped religious fundamentalism and only a few months before the Six Day War changed our world forever.

All Is Well by Vanessa Oakes

Thirty years ago on April 26th 1986 an accident happened at Chernobyl. ‘All Is Well’ is a response to the human cost of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and asks, ‘is it possible for any of us to trust one another again?’

aleks told me that you can smell fear… people sweat it out bit by bit and then other people smell the fear and they start to sweat… and so the fear spreads… person to person…’

 

Tickets are FREE to book #NOMONEYNOPROBLEM then if you like what you see PAY WHAT YOU CAN on the night. Tickets are available NOW via www.birmingham-rep.co.uk/opendoor2016 or call the box office 0121 236 4455

 


mid * point: The Old Woman, the Buffalo and the Lion of Manding

Adverse Camber presents

The Old Woman, the Buffalo and the Lion of Manding

at the Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton

Thursday 10 March, 7.30pm

Created and performed by

Jan Blake, storyteller

Kouame Sereba, guitar, dodo bow, djembe, flutes

Raymond Sereba, guitar, dodo bow, djembe, flutes, kalimba

Be swept away by the majesty, passion and music of West Africa in this epic tale of love, courage and strength that has been told in Mali for centuries.

The Birth of Sundiata Keita, visionary leader of the great Malian empire, is told across West Africa as a history of kingship and battle.  Jan Blake, one of the world’s leading and best-loved storytellers, together with two exceptional West African born musicians, Kouame Sereba and Raymond Sereba, share a rarely told perspective on the story story of the extraordinary circumstances of this legendary leader’s birth.

This tale reaches across the centuries, from its origins in 13th century Africa to the recent conflicts of our own time when its telling was forbidden.  Enjoy a powerful and uplifting performance filled with majesty, passion and music.

Book tickets on 01902 321321 or book online here


mid * point: Shoot Festival

SHOOT FESTIVAL RETURNS TO THE
SHOP FRONT THEATRE
TOMORROW!
THE MASTERCLASSES
FRIDAY 11th MARCH
SNEHA SINGH
BOLLYWOOD DANCING 
2pm-4pm Belgrade Theatre
SUBSCRIBE HERE
(FREE)

VANESSA OAKES
‘WRITING YOUR CITY’

5:30pm-7pm Belgrade Theatre

(FREE)

THE TRIPLE BILL
FRIDAY 11th MARCH (7:30pm)
Tickets £5
Shop Front Theatre

Check out our FABULOUS Triple Bill of artists tomorrow night at the Shop Front Theatre. For just a fiver you can see Ska played on the sitar, a brand new physical theatre piece and a touching solo performance set in Berlin.

There will also be complimentary Samosa’s and Bhaji’s made by Shanaz Akbarserved in the break. And trust me… they’re delicious!

BUY NOW (TRIPLE BILL) £5
SHOOT FESTIVAL
SATURDAY 12th MARCH (12pm – 7:30pm)
FREE
Shop Front Theatre

Nine emerging artists from Coventry and Warwickshire present their original work at the Shop Front Theatre.

From dance to spoken word, family shows to storytelling there’s something for everyone at this year’s Shoot Festival. We’ll also be holding industry talks fromJustine Themen (Associate Director, Belgrade Theatre) and Laura McMillan (Bid Coordinator, Coventry City of Culture Trust).

      

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE ARTISTS INVOLVED
We hope you are able to join us on 11th-12th March.

To find out more about Shoot Festival please take a look at our website:
www.coventryshootfestival.com