Birmingham Weekly Arts Roundup, October 23 – 29

The Amazing Snakeheads

The Birmingham leg of Afrovibes 2014 draws to a close this week, with some wonderful South African cultural treats still left to see.  On Friday (October 24), mac hosts a double bill of contemporary South African dance – Mana harks back to shaman traditions, while Dark Cell reflects on the political prisoners of Robben Island.  Meanwhile, at the Drum on Saturday (October 25), Rhetorical takes a satirical look back at the presidential reign of Thabo Mbeki.

The Rep gets in on the act too, on Friday (October 24) screening the UK premiere of Unogumbe, an effervescent modern-day take on Benjamin Britten’s opera Noye’s Fludde, while Monday (October 27) brings a special double bill – a performance by a cappella group The Soil followed by a rare screening of Come Back, Africa, a covertly-filmed documentary of apartheid made in 1960.

Down at the Warwick Arts Centre from Tuesday (October 28), Emerge is a special theatre season showcasing the work of graduates from the University of Warwick.  This week’s highlight comes on Wednesday (October 29) in the shape of Nothing, an innovative, unpredictable series of monologues exploring the very notions of something and nothing.

Speaking of innovative, this time last year Brum’s titans of experimental theatre Stan’s Cafe bade farewell to performance space @ AE Harris with the ludicrously ambitious Twilightofthefreakingods, an unrehearsed, no-budget, 255-minute version of Richard Wagner’s opera Götterdämmerung.  The performances were filmed and crafted into a hypnotic piece of video art – see it at the Patrick Centre on Thorp Street from Saturday (October 25).

Elsewhere, Friday (October 24) brings the opening of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein at the Blue Orange Theatre, and at the Old Joint Stock there’s a wry look at the minutiae of funerals in Is That It, Our Kylie?.  Meanwhile, there’s Spanish-language comedy at Artrix on Sunday (October 26), with Solfatara seeing a couple visited by an uninvited guest in the shape of their own worst fears, while on Wednesday (October 29) the Warwick Arts Centre hosts a rehearsed reading of That Night Follows Day, a piece from the wonderful Forced Entertainment company exploring the effect of adults’ words on children.

From Monday (October 27), the Electric Cinema has something rather special indeed – a screening of The Possibilities Are Endless, a documentary following singer Edwyn Collins’ recovery from his hugely debilitating stroke, followed by a Q&A and live acoustic set from the man himself.

The Barber Institute has two fine new exhibitions opening on Friday (October 24).  Rebel Visions brings together arresting images of World War I as etched and painted by the fascinating CRW Nevinson, while “Degenerate” Art documents the creeping influence of Nazi ideology on German Expressionism.

On Saturday (October 25), Longbridge town centre will be further transformed by all manner of awe-inspiring visuals in the inaugural Longbridge Light Festival – dazzling works from a wide range of local, national and international artists responding to the theme of “back to the future”, sustainable urban living viewed through the prism of science fiction.

THE INFLUENCE MACHINEOn a similar note, in Wolverhampton from Wednesday (October 29), The Influence Machine will see videos of talking heads projected onto smoke, trees and buildings outside the Wolverhampton Art Gallery, forming what is described as a confessional chorus of the mass-media age.

And finally, if you get a spare minute, do take part in the 24 Hour Culture Survey.  From midday on Friday (October 24), the West Midlands’ arts venues will aim to get a snapshot of the region’s cultural life during a single day, with the information helping them plan for the future.

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