Skip to content
Oct 4 13

What’s on in October

by Catherine Edwards

A short and sweet overview of the month ahead. Apologies if I’ve missed anything major – feel free to add suggestions in the comments.

Birmingham Rep is really getting into its stride with its new season, offering a great balance of traditional and contemporary theatre. Don’t miss the new Pilot Night on Friday 18th October, the artists for which were announced a couple of weeks ago.

They’ve also relaunched Speakeasy, a networking forum for West Midlands based theatre practitioners, which is taking place on 9th October.

The Best of BE Festival comes to the Rep on 15th October, showcasing the best of European Theatre from the annual summer festival.

Stan’s Cafe presents twighlightofthefreakingods on 10th & 12th October, a large scale theatrical experiment celebrating 5 years at AE Harris.  It will be the last performance at the venue before it ‘downsizes’ and they are planning to say goodbye in spectacular fashion.

Elsewhere in the Midlands, Pentabus Theatre are hosting a new show, 12 Miles from Nowhere, on Friday 18th October. The following day, Artistic Director Elizabeth Freestone will be running a playwriting workshop - a day of exercises, guest tutors, writing and advice, plus a chance to read and discuss your work.

Further afield, Theatre 503 are enjoying stonking reviews for Land of our Fathers, a new play by 503five writer Chris Urch. Nominated for five Off-West End awards, it runs until 12th October.

Sep 13 13

What’s On in September

by Catherine Edwards
A Ploughed Heart

Nearly half way through the month, and there’s still loads to see and do in terms of workshops, readings and performances.

Next week in particular looks like it’s filling up fast. First up is Theatre Exchange, Birmingham’s monthly scratch night for new plays. Taking place at the Old Joint Stock on Monday 16th September, it brings together writers, actors and directors for a night of try-outs, networking and socialising. Free to attend, although donations very welcome.

Towards the middle of the week, there is a chance to get involved in a new project, Beneath the Surface, which is a workshop with dramatised extracts inspired by contemporary British Asian gay lives. A tour of workshop performances comes to the Midlands on Wednesday 18th (Smethwick Library) and Thursday 19th September (mac).

On Thursday 26th September, there is a performed reading of A Ploughed Hearta new play about George Eliot by Coventry playwright Vanessa Oakes, with a post show talk chaired by Tessa Walker, Associate Director at Birmingham Rep. Last reports were that there were only 20 seats remaining. Tickets are free, with a complimentary drink thrown in. To book, T: 024 7688 7496  or   

The big news this month is that The Rep is now up and running again. Alan Bennett’s swipe at the National Trust, People, is on until 21 September, while the brand new Studio space hosts Soweto Kinch and The Legend of Mike SmithThere’s also a chance to catch Hopelessly Devoted by Kate Tempest in The Door.

Elsewhere, I would recommend catching Grounded at The Gate Theatre, which has extended its run until 5 October. Coming straight from the Traverse and the Edinburgh Fringe, it’s a deceptively simple one-hour, one-woman show wading into the ethical mud of remote warfare.

Stoke-based playwright Deborah McAndrew’s new adaptation The Grand Gesture for Northern Broadsides opened at Harrogate Theatre last week, before embarking on a national tour. More news to come very soon on Deborah’s newest play, Ugly, Duck!…

Aug 9 13

Opportunities – August

by Catherine Edwards

I’ve set up a page on the website entitled “Where Can I Send My Script?”, to offer an overview of current playwriting opportunities in the region. This will hopefully be expanded in the next couple of weeks to include national avenues for new work. But in the meantime, here are a few initiatives available for both writers and theatre-makers:

Pilot Nights

The Rep writes:

Since 2002, PILOT Nights have been giving theatre-makers a platform to show untested extracts of new work in front of a lively, supportive crowd for the very first time. We’ve teamed up with PILOT Nights to offer a special evening of work-in progress to be shown in The DOOR, on the 18 October 2013.

We would like to invite artists to submit a devised, performance idea of up to twenty minutes in duration for this unique performance opportunity. Submissions are by open application and we will select up to five artists or companies who will each be offered a fee of £500 towards development of the work along with rehearsal space, creative support and other benefits.

Please download the application form and submission guidance and read it in full before sending your application to The closing date for applications is Monday 9 September, 5pm

If you would like to discuss your proposal before submitting an application, or if you have difficulties applying, please contact Nisha Modhwadia, Associate Producer at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre on 0121 245 2000, or by email on

Escalator Plays

Opportunity for emerging playwrights to join HighTide’s Escalator Programme and have their work performed at HighTide Festival 2014.

Applications are open NOW for emerging writers to join HighTide’s prestigious Escalator Programme 2013/14 offering the chance to have your work performed at the HighTide Festival 2014.

Escalator Plays is part of a wider Escalator Talent Development initiative that is supported by Arts Council England East. This particular strand is designed to support early career playwrights from the East of England, and those wanting to work in the region to develop their writing and showcase their plays at partner organisations, such as Eastern Angles, New Wolsey Ipswich, and Mercury Theatre Colchester.

For more details and to apply to join the Escalator programme please visit the HighTide Festival Theatre website

Deadline: August 31st 2013.

Call out for Creative Writers with Project Operation Skills

Coney are looking to expand their network of creative writers for digital communications and management of their core creative projects.

They are seeking a writer/ project manager for their flagship learning project “A Cat Escapes”

The deadline for applications is Thursday 22 August, 6pm

Aug 3 13

Opportunity: Views From the ‘Bridge

by Catherine Edwards

One for Cambridgeshire-based theatre makers and performers:

Views from The ‘Bridge
Do you live in Cambridgeshire? Are you making theatre, dance, comedy, live art, spoken word, circus or something in between? Got a project on the go? Want to perform at Cambridge Junction?

Views from The ‘Bridge is a brand new night of Cambridge-based contemporary performance made by you. We want to see what you’re making, what you’re doing. We’re looking for short works, extracts and works-in-progress of between 10 and 20 minutes that you want to try out in front of an audience. Got an idea? Get applying!

To apply:
Please email Daniel Pitt, Producer: Arts on the following information (no more than one A4 page) by end of Friday 27th September:

Who are you?
What’s your address?
What’s your background?
What’s the title of the performance?
How do you describe what you’re making?
How far along the creation process is it?
How long is the performance you will be ready to present?
You can include web links, videos or photos if you have them.

Cambridge Junction will pay an inclusive fee of £100 per performance.

Line-up announced in October.

Date of performance: Wednesday 6th November, 7.30pm

Aug 2 13

Edinburgh Preview

by Catherine Edwards

It’s not so much a preview any more given that the Festival officially starts today, but it’s probably still worth jotting down a few tips. Created in Birmingham have drawn up a comprehensive list of West Midlands shows and companies heading to the Fringe, including:

  • The Cardinals (Stan’s Cafe) 19-21, 23 August, 12:00, Greyfriars Kirk
  • Pint Dreams (Tin Box) 22-25 August, 14:30/16:30/18:30, Pleasance at the Antiquary
  • Our Fathers (Babakas) 2-25 August (not 7, 13, 20), 12:30, Summerhall
  • For Their Own Good (Untied Artists) 19-24 August, 16:30, Summerhall
  • Tea at Five (The Old Joint Stock) 5-24 August, 10.05 (11-17 Aug); 11.05 (19-24 Aug), the Space @ Surgeon’s Hall (further details in comments below).

For good measure, I’ll add in Specie, from Warwickshire-based Fat Git Theatre (31 July-26 August, 12:10, Pleasance Dome), the writer of which (Joe White) is currently on The Rep’s Foundry programme.

For my part, here’s a brief rundown of what’s on my radar, based on a mixture of word of mouth, inside knowledge and gut instinct:

Gardening: For the Unfulfilled and Alienated
A short (30 min) site-specific piece from Brad Birch, who is one of the current crop of writers in the 503Five at Theatre 503. Might be seeing more from him later this year.

All Roads Lead to Rome
I missed this as a visiting production to the Hotbed Festival a couple of weeks ago, but hoping to catch it here. It’s part of the Escalator East to Edinburgh scheme, which provides developmental and financial support to artists taking shows to the Fringe. A separate strand, focused on playwrights and run by HighTide Festival, is currently open for applications (deadline 31st August).

The Smallest Light
A devised show about political protest from The Gramophones, an East Midlands-based emerging theatre company, whose previous show End to End I raved about recently. I like the energy and the straight-forwardness of this group, so looking forward to seeing their new piece.

From Where I’m Standing
Bit more of a punt this one, going mainly by company reputation and the mix of physical theatre and new writing. Hopefully a decent combination.

Cape Wrath
A bus journey from the Midlands to the far North West of Scotland, from the outstanding Third Angel. A meditative reflection on life and travels. Selling out fast.

Again, going on external recommendations for this one, but there’s enough buzz about it to catch the attention.

Captain Amazing
The travails of being a superhero – how to compete with Superman and avoid birds while in flight. The trailer for this solo show makes it look quite fun:

Others worth a mention are:

The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning – not least for the topicality
Black T-Shirt Collection - eclectic mix of new writing and spoken word
A Conversation With My Father – politics, protest, and the relationship between a protester and her policeman father.
XY - line-up of emerging writers given a brief to create plays with genderless characters. 16 plays in rotation. Could be good; could be gimmicky.
Long Distance Affair (make possible an impossible trip) - 40 minute exploration of theatre and technology
I Could’ve Been Better - developed through Bristol Old Vic Ferment. Actor/Producer Susie Riddell was based in Brum for a number of years, so a tenuous local connection there.

I’ll be heading up during the week of the 19th August, joining other #WMinEd13 folk. Any other recommendations or suggestions for shows, just let me know on the comments below or email

Jul 26 13


by Catherine Edwards

20130726-102155.jpg This week has mostly comprised of a whirlwind tour of regional festivals in the sunshine, finding out which theatres have air conditioning. (Mercury Arts Centre – yes, Bristol Old Vic – no). Also, which giant animals happen to be lurking in the foyer (Mercury Arts Centre – giraffe, Bristol Old Vic – Gromit)

The plan is to start building up an overview of Festivals that are happening across the UK, to see how they work with artists and look at the different ways of presenting work. At the moment, I’m also being nosey and wondering what sort of audiences they get – whether it’s a young, hip, industry crowd, or a more general mix of traditional theatre-goers (whatever that might be). Logistically, I’m also looking at the timings and structures of the events – what work gets programmed during the day/ early evening as well as the “normal” 7.30-8pm theatre slot. So basically cribbing ideas and thinking about what could work for Capital in November.

First up this week was Colchester for the Hotbed Festival. I’d never been to Colchester before, so this was a new experience. Same for Hotbed – this was the first time they’d ventured beyond The Junction in Cambridge, embarking on a mini tour of East England venues. They’ve ended up at Soho Theatre this week, if you happen to be around this evening to catch something. The day included readings of new plays by Amanda Whittington and Fraser Grace (convenor of Birmingham University’s MRES in Playwriting), together with two short (20 minute) commissions and two full productions in the evening. The quality of work was exceptionally high, with particular mention to the What’s Up, Doc? strand. Terrible name, but the concept behind it translated into some fascinating and original work. Teaming writers up with “Thought Leaders” and academics, the short commissions explored some fantastically inventive ideas. I only saw two of them (out of six), which is a pity, but I hope they have a further life.

Next up was Manchester for the 24/7 Festival. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, this year they showcased 11 new plays in venues all across Manchester. Managed to catch four of them, ranging from an energetic one-man show about homophobia in the football industry, to a devised piece exploring society’s addiction to youth. Some strong performances and nice ideas, tempered with a slight sense of under-development. The stand-out piece was Temper by Richard O’Neill, a tight, witty three-hander about a young man struggling to make sense of his life, hampered by an awkward relationship and impromptu visits from the world’s most annoying next door neighbour. The play explores the tipping point between youth and maturity, and how aspiration can turn into suffocation without even realising.

Lastly, I took a punt on Bristol Ferment, an artist development programme from the Bristol Old Vic, is billed as a “mini explosion of new ideas and work-in-progress”. I saw a couple of things last night – Peter and the Wolf (and me) by Nick Young, a reflective, biographical tale of a young boy growing up in 1980s Zimbabwe. Flitting between past and present, the heart of the story lies in a young boy recounting the tale of Peter and the Wolf, via The A-Team and McGuiver. With a strong, charismatic performance and a gradual revelation of the central metaphor, I can see this being successful on the small-scale touring circuit.

Finally, there was a half hour try out of new work from performance poets Jack Dean, Anna Freeman and Christopher Kowalewsky – entertaining stuff, especially Anna. She mentioned she has a show in Edinburgh this year, so that’s one to look out for.

With all the other stuff going on, I ended up missing the Rep Foundry again this week. Hopefully someone will be able to let me know how it went.

If you have, or can recommend any shows or readings coming up in the next few weeks, then now’s the time to let me know. Looking forward to a long summer of sun and theatre, hopefully culminating in the Festival in November. That’s the plan, anyway.

Jun 28 13

Invitation to Open Space – 17 July

by Catherine Edwards
Matt Burman, Louisa Davies, Steve Johnston, Frances Land, Roxana Silbert and James Yarker invite you to an
Open Space Event
to address the question:
We all share a passion for Theatre and for its growth in the region. Individually we are all committed and working to this cause but experience tells us that our greatest strength comes when we work together. It has been two years since the theatre tribes of the West Midlands have come together in Open Space to chart paths and forge alliances. This time has come again.
Our gathering on 17th will allow everyone with an interest in the future of theatre in the West Midlands the opportunity to address the issues that most concern them. No one will leave without having had their chance to have their say. This is a rare chance for us all to meet and re-empower each other.
Similar conferences in November 2009 and June 2011 proved an invaluable forum for plotting action that led to tangible, sustained change in the local theatre scene. Please come and help shape our shared future in theatre.
Open Space is called on 17th July, 2013
@ A E Harris: 110 Northwood Street, Birmingham, B3 1SZ
and will run 10:00 – 18:00

It will help us run the event if we have a sense of how many people are coming, so please register your intention to attend. Here:

Donations will be requested on the day to help cover costs (£3 or more would be good).

A vegetarian buffet will available for £5 to give you an option that isn’t just bringing sandwiches, crisps and chocolate. Again it would be useful to get an indication of what the scale of demand may be.

Jun 28 13

What’s on in July

by Catherine Edwards

It’s Festival season, with a whole host of theatre, new writing and performance to get your teeth stuck into.

First up is BE Festival (2-6 July), the annual celebration of European theatre which is now in its fourth year. Over five nights you can see 23 performances amidst a range of exhibitions, workshops, discussions and live music. And they feed you, too.

Following swiftly on its heels is the newly established Birmingham Fest (12-28 July), which has shows in four venues across the city. Includes short plays from Big Script and the last chance to catch Alex Brockie’s The Inferno Kid in Birmingham.

I’ll also be heading up to Manchester to catch the excellent 24/7 Festival (19-26 July), which launched its programme a couple of weeks ago. Celebrating their 10th Anniversary this year, the Festival will host 11 world premieres, rehearsed readings, scripts in development and a host of extra events featuring emerging artists from the region.

The Young Rep Festival takes to the stage from 1-13 July, presented ten different plays at The Old Rep Theatre. Pick of the bunch looks to be Girls Like That (12-13 July), a partnership between the Rep, West Yorkshire Playhouse and Theatre Royal Plymouth.

Festivals aside, there’s still time to catch Invisible by Liz John & Julia Wright – heading to the Artrix next. Also Jestaminute’s An Angel Abroad is still touring the region until 6th July.

Further afield, Disgraced at The Bush comes highly recommended, but it closes tomorrow, so get your skates on for that one if you’re London-based. Our Share of Tomorrow is on at Theatre 503 until Saturday 6th July.

Happy hunting.

Jun 28 13

Theatre Exchange: July

by Catherine Edwards
Calyx rehearsal

The next round of Theatre Exchange is up and running and open for entries. If you have an idea, an extract or a scene that you feel would benefit from a public airing, then have a look at their website for details on how to submit.

The deadline is Sunday 7th July at 6pm, with the readings taking place the following week on Monday 15th July at 7.30pm at the Old Joint Stock.

As mentioned previously, Capital has a tentative arrangement with Theatre Exchange to select one of the plays that have been submitted for the monthly meetings and offer a full rehearsed reading at the mac during the Festival on 20-24 November. This offer is subject to successful funding, so we will keep you posted on the outcome.

Jun 19 13

Couple of New Plays…

by Catherine Edwards

On the radar over the next couple of weeks:

Invisible by Liz John and Julia Wright
Directed by Janice Connolly

Lisa’s life is rubbish enough, without her older sister Jackie cracking up. She knows Jackie is eccentric, but claiming that they will soon be invisible ………well really! But then again, why is it that neither Lisa’s cheating husband, nor his current mistress seem to notice her? And if Jackie is right, and not actually insane, then how is she making a living in her barbers shop without any customers?

June 20 & 21 @ 7.45pm Blue Orange Theatre, Birmingham
0121 212 2643 - Click here to book on-line

July 5 @ 8.00pm Studley Village Hall, Warwickshire
0845 680 1926 - Click here to book on-line

July 6 @ 7.30pm Artrix, Bromsgrove
01527 557 330 - Click here to book on-line

July 13 @ 8.00pm Harborough Theatre, Market Harborough
0845 680 1926 - Click here to book on-line

An Angel Abroad by Andy Higgit

Award-winning Jestaminute Community Theatre brings you a roller-coaster of emotions in their gripping new play. Join us on a poignant, sometimes funny journey into the lives of three sets of characters connected by the theme of power and control. Based on the accounts of people who have experienced domestic abuse, these fictional stories take us on a theatrical exploration into the heart of close relationships. A world where sometimes words are not enough to express feelings and emotions. A world where we discover that some people are indeed “an angel abroad and a devil at home”.

27th June, 7.30pm: The Boars Head, Kidderminster
29th June, 7.45pm: Palace Theatre, ‘The Room Upstairs’, Redditch
30th June, 8pm: The Artrix, Bromsgrove
4th July, 7.30pm: Worcester Arts Workshop, Worcester
5th July, 7.30pm: Wishampton Village Hall 01386 462306
6th July, 7.30pm: Feckanham Village Hall, Feckhanham

For more information, visit the Jestaminute website

Oh, and BE Festival is on next month too, but I’ll write about that separately because it looks VERY EXCITING.