Birmingham Weekly Arts Roundup, October 10-16


For five years, experimental theatre ensemble Stan’s Cafe have been based in Jewellery Quarter’s AE Harris factory complex, where they’ve put on an inspirational run of pioneering performances, installations and workshops.  This summer, it was announced that the factory’s parent company (a metal pressing outfit) are to take back a good deal of the performance space in order to increase their manufacturing capacity.

TwilightofthefreakingodsSo, for the final show before the venue downsizes, Stan’s Cafe present Twilightofthefreakingods (from Thursday October 10), an experimental, 255 minute-long work loosely based on Richard Wagner’s opera Götterdämmerung.  The cast, all of whom have performed at the venue before, will follow a list of instructions, unaware of what their fellow actors will do.

Back in July, AE Harris hosted 23 short performances by cutting-edge theatre companies from across Europe.  If you missed it, on Tuesday (October 15) the Rep will present The Best Of BE Festival, a one-night-only chance to catch the cream of the programme, including Danish tour de force Next Door and the French buffoonery of Al Cubo.

Indeed, it’s a distinctly continental flavour at the Rep – on Wednesday (October 16), the Studio auditorium presents Europa, a witheringly satirical collaboration featuring theatre companies from Dresden, Zagreb and Bydgoszcz.

Also at the Rep this week, renowned scenographer Peter Farley draws on the venue’s archives to present a talk on 100 Years Of Theatre Design (Saturday October 12).

Down in Coventry, the Herbert presents 100 from Tuesday (October 15), a pre-emptive commemoration of the centenary of the Great War, comprising a short film by Jay Langdell, an installation from textile artist Julia O’Connell and Powder, a new one-handed play from local outfit Theatre Absolute.

Elsewhere, Black History Month continues with The Drum’s hard-hitting series of monologues Sorry! No Coloureds, No Irish, No Dogs (Friday October 11), while there’s a more knockabout feel at the Old Joint Stock, with pop-culture pastiche Fourmidable (Saturday October 12).  The performance is part of the Birmingham Comedy Festival, which wraps up this week.

The Birmingham Literature Festival is also drawing to a close, but there’s plenty more good stuff to enjoy.  On Thursday (October 10), Jonathan Coe discusses his new book, the Cold War comedy Expo 58, while on Friday (October 11) there’s a premiere reading of Alan Bennett’s lost TV play Denmark Hill, followed by local writer Catherine O’Flynn discussing her latest work, Mr Lynch’s Holiday.  Finally, on Saturday (October 12), the Festival concludes with Stuart Maconie hosting an evening of poetic and lyrical talks and performances, featuring ex-Beautiful South man Paul Heaton.

In the visual arts this week, the Mac presents Closer from Saturday (October 12), the first solo exhibition of photographer Stuart Griffiths.  The show will feature Instamatic camera shots of his experiences in the Parachute Regiment in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, as well as poignant images of the lives of army veterans who’ve fallen on hard times.

Elsewhere, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s new show promises to be rather more comforting fare, as Love & Hope displays local artist Paul Horton’s charming pastels and other pieces from Saturday (October 12), while the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists exhibits Robert Perry’s powerful landscapes from Monday (October 14).






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