Monthly Archives: April 2016


8 short plays over 2 nights FREE at The REP

Tuesday May 3rd & Wednesday May 4th at 8pm


BOLDtext are delighted to announce that Jade Samuels (‘Tinned Goods’, BBC Doctors), Jenny Stokes (‘Tinned Goods’, ‘Dolly Grip’) and Rich Stokes (‘A Passion For Birmingham’, ‘Yesterday An Incident Occurred) will be joining BOLDtext for two nights of entertaining new writing inspired by some of the hottest issues at the heart of the EU debate.


EUROTRASHED, directed by Bob Eaton (Former Artistic Director of The Coventry Belgrade, The London Bubble and The Liverpool Everyman), will also feature a specially commissioned soundscape from Birmingham based sound artist Duncan Grimley.


Book your FREE tickets NOW (then pay what you can on the night) via or call the box office 0121 236 4455

EUROTRASHED! NIGHT ONE: Tuesday May 3rd at 8pm


‘Borderlines’ by Nicola Jones

‘Windows’ by Helen Kelly

‘The Nutter’s House’ by Tim Stimpson

‘Lie of the Land’ by Julia Wright


EUROTRASHED! NIGHT TWO: Wednesday May 4th at 8pm


‘Flagship’ by Stephen Jackson

‘Cogs & Co’ by Liz John

‘Illusions of Democracy’ by Sayan Kent

‘Glastonbury’ by Vanessa Oakes


The DOOR, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Broad St, Birmingham, West Midlands B1 2EP.


TWO nights of great new writing from BOLDtext Playwrights!


“BoldText is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with in West Midlands theatre”


mid * point: Making History Theatre: Acting Opportunity

Making History Theatre

We are looking for two actors – one M, one F, playing age 16 -30 – for a new play

In the Land of Glass and Saucepans

by Jefny Ashcroft

to be performed in Mary Stevens Park, Stourbridge

Rehearsals (in Stourbridge) June 8th, 9th, 13th, 14th, 15th

Performances for schools 16th, 17th June (3 per day) and for public 18th, 19th June (3 per day)

Performances will take place outdoors in secluded garden (there will be no passing public).

Audition 3rd May (to be confirmed)

Fee for whole project £500.

Contact Jonathan Collings (director) with CV and photograph at

mid * point: Birmingham Cabaret Festival

Birmingham Cabaret Festival at the Old Joint Stock





Nestled away in the grade II listed grandeur of the Old Joint Stock you will find our wonderfully intimate theatre!


Bask in the secluded decadence of the elegant venue for an exclusive evening of the most delectable femme fatales, quirky comedy & extraordinary performances to surprise and delight you, up close & personal.


After the success of our first Birmingham Cabaret Festival back in May 2015, we’ve decided to do it all again!




The cream of the UK’s cabaret scene has been selected by our team with the sole purpose of discovering performers to set pulses racing and tongues wagging. With a stellar line-up of acts, get your tickets now for the shows that are set to be the talk of the town!














Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Happy Anniversary

Compress Ma Pantalon – WebsterWest Ink from Stans Cafe on Vimeo.

Shakespeare’s 400 years gone (23 April), the Queen is 90 years alive (21 April), Roisin is 1 year with us (20 April) and Nina West…

Looking to promote Made Up The REP asked if this was our first all female cast, the reply was simple – “no but it is our first in 20 years”. That show was Ocean of Storms and Ocean of Storms as Nina West reminded me recently, was the first Stan show for which she created the music, so Happy Anniversary to her.

The story of how Nina joined Stan’s Cafe is a neat one. For the previous five shows we had collaborated with the composer Richard Chew, an old friend of Graeme’s and an amazing classically trained talent. The time for a shake up had come and I was on the hunt for a new sound for a new show set in space.

I began buying likely / unlikely sounding records in the hope they would help, including Detonator by a band called Moonloonies I’d heard on John Peel’s show (welsh psychedelic space rock as it turns out), nothing seemed right. Then I was at a party in Manchester when a track started playing that was very peculiar, but very wonderful. It was hypnotic and playful, full of absurd vocal effects and somehow very spacious. I was sure whoever wrote this could write Ocean of Storms – if they could be found and persuaded. I asked who this weird record was by and was shocked when the answer came back “my friends Nina and Jane”.

The go-betweening was done, I made a phone call and then drove to Stockport and met Nina and her partner Jane and they wrote the soundtrack to Ocean of Storms, it was wonderful, deep and still and strange. Sarah, Amanda, Paul and I were continually shocked on that tour that audiences didn’t rave about the soundtrack. Of course they didn’t mention it because the soundtrack was so perfect they didn’t hear it, it didn’t draw attention to itself, it was indistinguishable from the show.

The next show we worked with Jon Ward but shortly after that we made It’s Your Film for very nearly no money. We couldn’t afford an especially composed soundtrack so we cheekily asked Nina if we could give her £20 and use 270 seconds of the Ocean of Storms soundtrack. She said yes and we used it more than 2000 times over the next 10 years.

We knew we wanted to work with Nina again when the time was right and in 2001 the time was right. Lurid and Insane required a band and Nina was drafted in to play guitar, help write the songs and even do a bit of acting. Her love of performance came to the fore.

In 2004 we asked Nina to create the soundtrack for Be Proud of Me. She did a great job and demonstrated her ability to think laterally, wrong footing by suggesting the show contain a song. It’s always a good idea to try implausible ideas, we did and it works. Around this time I asked Nina how she composed for our shows, she described a process of watching a scene in rehearsal then in her studio using an abstract element of that scene and respond from that. A couple of years later she wrote and essay about her approach for our website.

In 2007 Nina composed what is probably her masterpiece. In previous shows Nina had been trammeled by having to work around or beneath text. In The Cleansing of Constance Brown the whole audio field was handed over to her, a show with no words, just visuals and music. With this in mind we purchased four big speakers and a hefty four channel amplifier. So the audience could be surrounded by Nina’s stomach churning, ear tingling noises.

The soundtrack to Constance Brown is extraordinary, Nina is the only member of cast or crew to have been present at every performance of this show and she has been honing the soundtrack throughout this time, ever more detailed changes. The cast have grown so familiar with the soundtrack that they can modulate their performances to the soundtrack like dancers.
Intriguingly things didn’t start smoothly for this soundtrack. Nina, excited to have such a free reign on such a big scale, was desperate to do a great job but her early sketches weren’t working and we both knew it. Independently and secretly we both started to get worried. Then I remembered our conversation around Be Proud of Me. I recalled her process for that piece and compared it with how she was working on Constance Brown, for which she was using a camcorder to video rehearsals and compose to those images. I banned the camcorder. Working from her imagination Nina delivered the goods.

Nina’s talent is partly this imagination and partly her complete lack of ego, she instinctively knows how theatre scores need work they shouldn’t be boring or bland, but they should also not draw attention to themselves too much. This lack of ego was evident in The Anatomy of Melancholy. Nina was asked to make a soundtrack for the show but after working on the show for a while she concluded the show didn’t need a soundtrack so she suggested she stop working on it. She was right.
Fortunately later that year we were able to give her a huge challenge as compensation, a soundtrack for another show without words but this time 4 hours 15 minutes worth of show with no rehearsals just a timetable. As if to crank the pressure up further Nina got the gig because we were kicking Wagner off the gig. The show was our adaptation of Gotterdammerung, Twilightofthefreakingods. Her extraordinary tour-de-force carried the show and remains supercharged on the cinematic version of the show which we are still trying to find a way to disseminate.

When not composing for Stan’s Cafe Nina flexes her muscles re-soundtracking classic silent films, including, most memorably Nosforatu. We used this experience in 2015 when Nina put music to the film at the heart of A Translation of Shadows.
Nina currently is hard at work with Craig creating a fake radio channel for Made Up.

Although she is steeped in contemporary popular music I nevertheless regard Nina’s as outsider art. Outsider Art is a term that describes artists whose practice is pursued without commission, is untrained and not influenced by an existing tradition or school. The first and only musical qualification Nina has is her certificate for completing a course in studio engineering. It was a compilation of recordings from that course was playing when I attended that party in Manchester, Compress Ma Pantalon. I find it extraordinary / outrageous that she doesn’t do more work for performing arts companies – though secretly I am also really pleased that we have almost exclusive access to her talent as a signature of the companies work.

Women and Theatre: We’re running the Birmingham 10k!

Janice, Jess and Beth are running the Birmingham 10k on Sunday 7 May, to raise money for our new monologue project, Starting Out, which will look at the experiences of and prospects for young women entering the world of work now.  If you are able to donate, please visit our fundraising page at and do turn up on the day to help cheer us along!

Black Country Touring: The Inspiration for Tongue Tied & Twisted

Tongue Tied & Twisted is a new production from Black Country Touring and Peter Chand, supported by Heritage Lottery Fund and Creative Black Country. The show has been inspired by local Asian Elder groups whose members gave up their time … Continued

The post The Inspiration for Tongue Tied & Twisted appeared first on Black Country Touring.

Little Earthquake: Remembering Noël

In March 2016, we collaborated with the University of Birmingham on a production of The Good Sisters, Noël Greig’s version of Michel Tremblay’s Les Belles-soeurs. Sadly, Noël passed away in 2009. Here, Philip along with writers Therese Collins and Carl Miller, reflect on Noël’s work with young people.

The image above is of Noël in Gay Sweatshop’s production of The Dear Love Of Comrades (1979).

Philip Holyman:

I took part in Birmingham REP’s Transmissions young writers’ programme for three successive years between 2002 and 2004. Noël, Therese and Carl led the programme in each of those years and their work went far beyond simply teaching playwriting — they were the first people who took me seriously as someone who wanted to write plays, and they were responsible for giving me my very first experiences as a professional playwright in a professional theatre environment. As far as I’m concerned, they are the reason I have the career in theatre that I now love so much.

Back then, influenced by half-absorbed books on in-yer-face theatre, I was writing what I now call my “sex plays”, with ludicrous unfathomable titles, operatic stage directions, and lots of what I probably thought were really confrontational sexual politics. I’ve been sorting boxes of archived papers in my parents’ loft recently and looked through some of these old scripts, cringing at a lot of what I wrote back then. I suspect it was as cringey for Noël, Therese and Carl at the time, but they never said so. They always made me feel as though I was on a continual journey of refinement and improvement, making good plays better, and making me a better writer along the way.

A copy of Noël’s own typewritten manuscript was emailed over… the wheel felt like it had come full circle.

I’d struggle to remember the specific exercises we did as part of our fortnightly classes, but the deeper lessons they taught me about theatre have never left me: about “being up for the creative carnage” of the redrafting process (a phrase on one of Carl’s feedback emails to me); about the importance of what actually happens onstage (as opposed to the invisible things which the writer decides are going on psychologically in characters’ heads or structurally in the play as a whole); and about giving actors something they can actually play.

They also broadened my knowledge of other writers’ work. It was Noël who first introduced me to the work of Michel Tremblay. He knew Tremblay and his work very well, and would often use him as an example to illustrate his points. When we were looking for a version of The Good Sisters to work with for this production, something made me think of Noël all those years ago. We contacted the agent who represents Noël’s estate, and they were delighted that anyone even remembered his version existed. A copy of Noël’s own typewritten manuscript was promptly scanned and emailed over, and in that moment, the wheel felt like it had come full circle. It has been a massive pleasure to work with his warm, joyous, boisterous adaptation of Tremblay’s play, and to share it with the company of actors and with our audiences. I like to think that the sight and sound of so many students devouring every twist and turn of his script would have made Noël very proud indeed.

Therese Collins:

Noël is still in my phone contacts.

He seemed to make you feel that he had been waiting his whole life to hear what you were saying.

I first met him doing the Birmingham REP Transmissions project and he soon became a very important part of my work. In fact, he soon became a very important part of our family, often staying at our house and investing lots of time and encouragement in our daughters who were then only at primary school. That’s when I noticed what impressed me about him. Unlike most people, he never gave you the impression he was waiting to speak — quite the opposite. He seemed to make you feel that he had been waiting his whole life to hear what you were saying, a rare and extremely generous quality. Quite simply, he managed to transfer that quality into encouraging young people (and not so young people) to write stories about the importance of humanity, so that not only he but also an audience could listen. As a result of this, a lot of people went on to be better writers, and a lot of people went on to just be better. Alongside all this was his own powerful writing and the difference he made in fighting for what was right. My daughters are now grown up and have been to university but still, without fail on important occasions, one of us always says, “I miss Noël”. And I would imagine many others do the same. There are some people it is impossible to let go of.

Carl Miller:

You can learn from Noël Greig’s books that he had an unequalled fund of techniques and exercises to get people working creatively. But they can’t really express how his personality drew out the potential in those with whom he worked. He had the same enthusiasm and high expectations for a fragmentary work by someone who had hardly written a scene before as he did as a professional commenting on colleagues’ plays. He genuinely believed that other people’s stories always had power and were worth telling.

He genuinely believed that other people’s stories always had power and were worth telling.

Noël’s early days in weekly rep came in very handy for the Transmissions Festival, directing a dozen short plays, from pet-shop comedies to gothic murders, in a frantic fortnight. He could draw on examples from Shakespeare or Chekhov, but he was also a veteran of experimental theatre dating back to Brighton’s pioneering Combination in the 1960s.

Watching him work, you could feel his deep faith in the power of theatre as an ancient art form, combined with a conviction that it was worth nothing if it could not communicate passionately here and now.

I’m sure Noël would be delighted to know that Phil Holyman, whom Therese Collins, Noël and I first met as a young writer on Transmissions, continues to put those hopes and dreams into practice with this production of Noël’s version of Les Belles-soeurs.

The post Remembering Noël appeared first on Little Earthquake.