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…Experience all the thrills and daredevil entertainment of a turn-of-the-century circus when Circus 1903 rolls into Birmingham Hippodrome this October half term. The show includes sensational life-sized elephants stunningly…
First Night offers – available to 16-24 year olds
|Calendar Girls The Musical||£16||Tues & Wed ev||C – D|
|Bravo 22 Company Birmingham||£5||All Dates||All|
|The Color Purple||£16||Tues & Wed ev||C|
|NYDC Madhead||£5||Wed ev||All|
|Annie||£16||Tues & Wed ev||C – D|
|Grease The Musical||£16||Tues 13th & 20th. Mon 19th||C – D|
|West Side Story||£15||Thurs 29th||A-B|
|On Your Feet||£18||Tues to Thur mat & ev||D|
|Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet||£16||Tues||C|
|Blood Brothers||£22||Mon 30th||C|
|Some Like It Hip Hop||£11||Fri & Sat mat & ev||All|
|Acosta Danza||£6||Mon & Tues mat & ev||C|
|Snow White Pantomime||£6||2nd Jan to 2nd Feb mat & ev||B-D|
|We Will Rock You||£38.50||Mon 20th||C-D|
|Les Miserables 2020||£15||Mon ev’s||D|
Patrons and Friends ticket offers
|All discounts are subject to availability||2-for-1 on Opening Night
Price Bands A+/A-C only unless otherwise stated
£5 off Price A+/A, £6 off B-D
|Calendar Girls the Musical||✔ £10 off||✔ Tue – Thu|
|Bravo 22 Company Birmingham||✔ All performances||Sorry, not available|
|The Gruffalo||✔ All performances||Sorry, not available|
|Ceri Dupree in The Ladies I Love||Sorry, not available||✔ £4 off|
|Joseph and the Amazing Techicolor Dreamcoat||Sorry, not available||✔ Tue – Thu & Fri 5pm|
|The Color Purple||✔ £10 off||✔ Tue – Thu|
|MADHEAD||✔||Sorry, not available|
|Annie||✔ £10 off||✔ Tue – Thu 7.30pm|
|Grease The Musical||Sorry, not available||✔ £5 off A+/A, £6 off B-C, Mon – Thu. Limited availability|
|West Side Story||✔ Thu & Fri||Sorry, not available|
|On Your Feet!||✔ £10 off||✔ Tue – Thu|
|Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet||✔ £10 off||✔ Wed – Thu|
|Fantasia||✔ All performances||Sorry, not available|
|Blood Brothers||✔ £10 off||✔ £5 off A+/A, £4 off B, £3 off C, Tue – Fri & Mon|
|Eye of the Storm||✔ All performances||Sorry, not available|
|Dada Masilo – Giselle||✔ Both performances||Sorry, not available|
|Some Like it Hip Hop||✔ All performances||Sorry, not available|
|Circus 1903||✔ £10 off||✔ Tue – Fri|
|Acosta Danza||✔ Both performances||✔ £5 off A+/A, £4 off B, £3 off C, Both performances|
|Genius||✔ Both performances||Sorry, not available|
|Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs||✔ Sat 21 Dec & Yellow performances||✔ All performances|
|Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes||✔ £10 off||✔ Tue – Thu|
|Message in a Bottle||✔ £10 off||✔ Wed – Fri|
|Priscilla Queen of the Desert||✔ £10 off||✔ Tue – Thu|
|We Will Rock You||✔ £10 off||✔ £6 off A, £5 off B-C, Mon – Thu|
|MAMMA MIA!||✔ £10 off||✔ Mon – Thu|
|Les Miserables 2020||✔ £10 off||✔ £4 off A/A+ and £6 off B-D
Mon to Thu
Please note, all offers are subject to restrictions and limited availability; they cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer or applied retrospectively. We reserve the right to withdraw discounts at any time. Terms and conditions apply. First Night tickets must be booked by registered individuals between the ages of 16 and 24 inclusive. Proof of entitlement will be required for all tickets. Please note: Friends & Patrons discounts are subject to restrictions and limited availability; they cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer or applied retrospectively. We reserve the right to withdraw discounts at any time. Terms and conditions apply.
Birmingham Hippodrome has helped make and shape memorable theatre moments for generations of visitors.
Since our opening as the Tower of Varieties and Circus in 1899 we have had a fascinating history, with many changes to the building and the kind of events taking place here over the last 118 years. From crocodile wrestling to The Lion King, there have been variety acts, circus and major touring musicals performed on our stage.
Through the Hippodrome Heritage project, our fantastic volunteer team are bringing our dynamic and diverse history to life!
Take a look at the exciting opportunities below and find out how you can get involved:
Behind the Scenes Tours
Discover the world behind the curtain and gain access to parts of the theatre that are usually off limits to the public. The tour includes a visit to the royal box, access to rehearsal studios, and the loading bay where our spectacular stagesets arrive.
Our knowledgeable Heritage Guides and Visitor Services Assistants will share captivating stories from the theatre’s past and present and invite guests to take a sneak peek at the archive collection. An experienced Technical Guide will also be on hand to explain just what it takes to get a show onto our stage.
Tours take place at 10.30am & 11am on the first Saturday of each month
Tour only £8
Tour, hot drink, sandwich + cake £15.50
Roll up, roll up to hear fantastic tales of the shows and stars that have performed at Birmingham Hippodrome. See how the building was transformed from a circus into one of the UK’s biggest stages.
For a small donation, our fantastic Heritage Volunteers can provide a general overview of the 118 years of colourful history at the Hippodrome or develop a talk around a specific theme for your society or group.
We can cater for any size group either at the Hippodrome or at a different local venue. If offsite, our team will bring a sample from our archive collection.
Please email email@example.com to discuss your requirements.
Everyone has their own story to tell and share. This collection of oral history recordings is drawn from theatregoers, performers and the people behind the scenes who make shows happen and help the theatre run smoothly.
Listen to memories which take you on a journey from the 1940s to today.
Hippodrome Heritage Website
The Hippodrome Heritage archive has been drawn from many sources including the theatre’s own collection, private individuals and early material held by The Library of Birmingham.
On the Birmingham Hippodrome Heritage website, audiences can explore a historic collection of memorabilia including programmes, photographs, tickets, newspaper articles and documents spanning the theatre’s vibrant past. Travel along our timeline or search for your favourite show or star.
Making a donation to our archive collection
Do you have Birmingham Hippodrome memorabilia?
We are still collecting items which help tell the story of Birmingham Hippodrome and need your help!
You can download our Heritage Collection Donation Policy here. This outlines our policy for donations of materials and what we are able accept. If you have any queries please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
We still welcome donations for our ongoing collecting, research and preservation of our collection through our dedicated Heritage Volunteers. Contact Fundraising Manager Rachael Magson to find out how you can help email@example.com or call 0121 689 3067.
Hippodrome Heritage volunteer, Ivan Heard shares the historic relationship between Birmingham Hippodrome and horses…
Did you know that the name of our theatre comes from an ancient Greek word for a stadium for horse and chariot racing? Birmingham Hippodrome has therefore had a long association with horses, currently epitomised so brilliantly and emotionally with the current production of War Horse. Last staged here in our record-breaking year of 2013, the production has been seen in 11 countries by over 2 million people.
It was on 9 October 1899 that two Birmingham bookies, James and Henry Draysey, opened here the Tower of Varieties and Circus. On the opening night’s programme were Cliffe Berzac and his Wrestling and Boxing Pony, and the two Clarke Brothers, whom the Birmingham “Owl” journal described as “exceedingly able” bare-back horse riders.
Sadly, the venture failed after five weeks but even in its final week, an “unrideable” donkey was featured, with a £5 prize if you could ride it three times around the circus ring! Undeterred, the Drayseys altered the interior of the building, turning it into a traditional theatre,which they re-opened on 20 August, 1900 as the Tivoli Theatre of Varieties- we became the Hippodrome in 1903. On the opening bill was Felix de Marce with his Performing Baboons and Ponies, and two acts later was his wife Mdlle Irma Orbasany with her “Wonderful Performing Cockatoos”. Imagine the logistics of finding new board and lodgings every week for that menagerie!
In October, 1900 came Paul Sandor and his Miniature Circus, with ” a talking lion on a donkey”. His most famous trick was to juggle a Pony and Trap, a very impressive feat of strength. The following January brought to our stage Boswell’s Novel Stage Circus ” with a splendid stud of educated ponies and donkeys” Edward Sasman in 1902 featured Fox Terriers and a Horse on the stage. The following year, Miss Fredericka showed us her toy terriers and ” Dot”, the world’s smallest pony.
In a hot week in July, 1905, when the air in the Hippodrome had to be cooled with ice blocks, James de Voye displayed ” Billy”, “the Horse with the Human Brain”, who allegedly would paw answers to arithmetical sums and played a game of Snap with cards.
In May, 1903, the Three Eldreds had visited us from America, demonstrating remarkable horsemanship- ” see their original single and double leaps from the stage on to the horse’s back, both to seat and feet; also their great triple spontaneous leaps from the stage to the back of a galloping horse”.
The proprietor of the Hippodrome for its first decade was Thomas Barrasford, who was a great horseman and owned stables. In the early years, the fronts of the theatre programmes were illustrated with paintings of two of his favourite horses- Little Grafton and Bencher.
Even when the Hippodrome had entered the ” Golden Age of Variety” in the 1930s and 1940s, horses still cantered across our stage, often as part of complete circus shows, together with lions, tigers, bears and elephants.In September, 1935, ” Here Comes The Circus” featured Tex Nidley and his Horse, while Albert Jerich brought his Cream Ponies, High School Horse and a team of Liberty Horses. A ” Mammoth Circus” at Christmas, 1945 presented Little Sylvia- the Ballerina on Horseback”, as well as Lou Lenny and his Unrideable Donkey” and Young Roy, “the world’s youngest High School rider”.
Hollywood cowboys brought their horses to the Hippodrome- Tom Mix and “Tony” in 1938 and Roy Rodgers and “Trigger” in 1954. On this occasion, the theatre was full of excited schoolboys, all firing their toy guns with caps at the ” baddie” on stage. Trigger was stabled at M and B’s Cape Hill Brewery and fans gathered every morning to watch him being fed and watered. When the legendary Laurel and Hardy were here in November, 1953, they were preceded on the bill by Derek Rosaire and “Tony the Wonder Horse”.
As recently as 1969, a production of the old musical comedy ” The Arcadians” was planned to feature a show-jumping horse named “Rory” but it was discovered that he was too big to fit back-stage and the idea had to be dropped.
In 1988, a production of ” Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” included Cecil the Donkey, whom our Stage Door Manager, a younger Tom Phipps(!), had to rescue from
being held up in City Centre traffic. He had to guide Cecil through the nearby streets to get him here in time for the matinee.
And we must nor forget the wonder on the faces of children when they see Cinderella’s coach being pulled by enchanting white ponies, taking her to the Ball. Ian Lucker’s Ponies
filled this role in our 2006/2007 Cinderella, which starred Brian Conley.
A postscript- in the old days of weekly Variety, the artistes’ props, scenery and stage equipment had to be transported by horse and cart to and from New Street Station to the Hippodrome- late on Saturday nights and early on Monday mornings. There were times when, as the Queen of the Music Hall Marie Lloyd used to sing, ” I wanted to go to Birmingham but they put me off at Crewe” and things got ” mislaid”!
So, War Horse, as well as reminding us of the important work that horses did in WW1, also makes us think of the place of horses in the daily lives of the early 20th century, in transport
and distribution- not to mention their important role on our stage entertaining the people of Birmingham.
On Wed 31 Oct Ivan will be hosting a free talk on the theatre during WW1 – to book book your place click here.
For more information on War Horse and to book tickets click here.
…2 tickets per member. ZooNation’s Some Like it Hip Hop £15 tickets on price bands A-C on all performances. Maximum of 2 tickets per member. Circus 1903 £3 off price…
Continuing our 120th anniversary celebrations, we are very pleased to announce three new productions for 2019 – all visiting the theatre for the very first time.
Tickets are now on sale to Birmingham Hippodrome Friends and Patrons members for The Gruffalo, On Your Feet! and Circus 1903 – general booking opens at 2pm today, 27 Mar. These three productions are also joined by a one night only appearance from comedy legend, Ben Elton. For more information on becoming a Friend click here.
The Gruffalo (25 & 26 Jun) is Tall Stories’ magical, musical adaptation of the classic picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. The production is packed full of songs, laughs and monstrous fun for children aged 3 and up and their grown-ups.
The Broadway and West End production of the smash-hit musical, On Your Feet! (3-7 Sep) charts the inspiring true love story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan and their journey from Cuba, to the streets of Miami and finally onto international superstardom. This exhilarating musical features some of the most iconic pops songs of the era, including Rhythm Is Gonna Get You, Conga, Get On Your Feet, Don’t Want To Lose You Now and 1-2-3.
Celebrating the Hippodrome’s roots as a circus 120 years ago, Circus 1903 (25 Oct-2 Nov) rolls into Birmingham for the October half term. Featuring sensational life-sized elephants created by puppeteers from War Horse, this stunning show puts elephants back in the ring as never before. The circus also boasts a huge cast of jaw-dropping and dangerous acts from across the globe including acrobats, contortionists, trapeze and high wire performers, transporting you to the mesmerising Golden Age of circus.
For the first time in 15 years, Ben Elton will bring his brand-new UK tour to Birmingham Hippodrome on 14 Nov. Elton’s new tour promises to be a belly laughter-filled night, as he tries to make sense of the current state of the world.
Tickets are now on sale to Birmingham Hippodrome Friends and Patrons members, general booking opens at 2pm today, 27 Mar. For more information on becoming a Friend click here.
…to delight the entire family continues as Circus 1903 (25 Oct – 2 Nov) brings all the thrills and daredevil entertainment of a turn-of-the-century circus to Birmingham this October half-term….
Birmingham Hippodrome’s Musical Theatre Youth Company take to the stage to celebrate the theatre’s 120th birthday, bringing our dynamic and diverse history to life through acting, song and dance in a sparkling summer production.
A group of archivists find themselves transported back in time as they begin to sort through 120 years worth of Hippodrome history.
On opening the archives, they find themselves thrown back into performances from the past: from circus acts and variety performers to famous musicals and even a few intriguing celebrity acts!
Our Musical Theatre Youth Company will also be joined on stage by special guests ZooNation Youth Company Birmingham (ZYCBrum) who will perform an extract of their recent show The B-SIDE.
4 Squares Weekender was a major outdoor celebration on 6 – 8 Sep 2013 for the opening of the Library of Birmingham, presented by Birmingham Arts Partnership (BAP), the consortium of leading arts organisations and venues in the city.
Do you remember the first time theatre took your breath away?
Join us as a founder member of our 1899 Club and help us pass on this feeling to those less fortunate, one by one, for many more years to come.
A small monthly donation is all it takes.
Birmingham Hippodrome has been changing the lives of local people through the magic of theatre since 1899. From our roots in Circus and Variety to our role today as a world-class theatre, we have been at the beating heart of local communities for decades.
By making a monthly donation you will support the theatre you love, and give something back to your local community.
Your donation will take us closer to our vision of creating One Million Hippodrome Moments. Every year we want to reach 500,000 people through our theatre programmes and a further 500,000 children, young people and vulnerable communities with low-cost or free activities. Explore how your donation will make a difference below, and join today.
Celebrating 120 years of unforgettable performance in the heart of Birmingham.
2019 marks 120 years since an entertainment venue was first built on the Hippodrome site.
Starting as a circus, then followed by variety, Birmingham Hippodrome is now one of the UK’s busiest theatres.
We have an exciting programme of events planned throughout 2019 to celebrate this history – the below are just a few. More to follow…
On bank holiday weekend in August 2015, Hippodrome Square and the Arcadian were filled with an entertaining jamboree of spectacular street performance. Comedic performances lined the street with a range of high quality circus, dance and street theatre that delighted and suprised audiences from across the region.
Southside became an ideal location for fun and street food with performances from a range of local and international artists. A highlight of the programme was Tangle by Australian Company Polygot – a huge, messy, fun, interactive elastic weaving event created live by children and their families. The Arcadian, became home to a stage and music performances as well as hip hop battles and an interactive graffiti wall!
Visit the Summer in Southside website to see who came to our party!
With the streets of Southside soon-to-be filled with the sights and sounds of Chinese New Year, Hippodrome Heritage Volunteer Ivan Heard treats us to a fascinating look at the changing representations of ‘Chinese’ culture as seen on stage at Birmingham Hippodrome since the venue first opened its doors in 1899.
Today, the Hippodrome is at the centre of Birmingham’s bustling and thriving Chinatown but 117 years ago, when the theatre was just opening, China was perceived as a very far-off, exotic and forbidding land. Not many Birmingham people would have known much about it, even though by then there was a small Chinese community in the area. The image would probably have been one of sinister goings-on, often fueled by the opium trade, and of sailors being “Shanghai-ed”. The people were seen as being remote and rather incomprehensible, even though the West was aware of Chinese history, art, literature and dress.
From the start, Chinese performers brought their skills and artistry to our stage. The very first act at the Tivoli Theatre of Varieties, as the Hippodrome was called when it opened on 20 August, 1900, was Chung Ling Soo – “The Mysterious Chinese Magician”- even though he was a fraud, because he was actually an American named William Robinson! However, it could not be denied that he gave that first-night audience a spectacular and spell-binding display of illusions. Indeed, to Birmingham Hippodrome audiences, the Chinese performers were seen as very clever and skilled illusionists, acrobats or jugglers, who always presented their acts gracefully and colourfully.
In October, 1900, M. Aude performed as an “oriental juggler”; in January, 1903, Foo Choo brought his illusions; and in October, 1907, Ormonde Penstone, ” the prestidigateur” , was assisted by ” The Eastern Lady Illusionist Tsaou- Ngo”. In February, 1907, Gustave Fasola, “the famous fakir and oriental wonder worker “had performed here and “The Owl” journal had commented that “some of the illusions are very good; it takes a good deal to make a Birmingham audience very astonished at anything”. Nothing new there, then!
In 1917 and 1918, the celebrated Chinese magician Chung Wu appeared to much mystified acclaim.
The other side of how China was perceived was also portrayed on the Hippodrome stage in these early years. In October, 1905, Brown and Nevarro presented their original sketch ” A Chinese Elopement”, and In December, 1911, Miss Mary Mayferis and her Company staged “The Yellow Fang”, ” based on the actual facts of a Terrible Crime committed in the Chinese Quarter of San Francisco in the summer of 1902″. Another Chinese- American episode came in August, 1913 – this was called ” The Big Joss”, about the Gold Rush of 1849.
Chinese acrobats, jugglers and balancing acts appeared regularly in Variety from the 1930s. On the 9th Anniversary of the Hippodrome’s joining the great Moss Empires circuit, which had been in 1924, a special Birthday Show included the Sue-Yee Chinese Troupe; and Chinese acrobats came in a show in July, 1932 which included an item called “Shanghai Nights”, performed by the “Peking Girl” dancers. Right up to the 1950s, there were Chinese acts in Variety. In August, 1950, there was the Young China Troupe and in March, 1959, the Pan Yue Jen Troupe – “the Chinese Wonder Entertainers”
A famous Chinese troupe were the Lai Founs, who were on our stage in Variety in April, 1944 and May, 1948. They comprised four men and two women who did plate-spinning on swaying bamboo poles. They have entered the history books, because they appeared on the opening day of the world’s first television service, broadcast by the BBC from Alexandra Palace, north London, on 2 November, 1936. After the official opening at 3.00pm and an interval with the time, weather and British Movietone News, the very first programme was “Variety” from 3.30 to 4.00. The Lai Founs were part of this show.
The Chinese community have also been portrayed in several musicals that have been staged at the Hippodrome. For years, the most famous and popular was “Chu Chin Chow”, first performed at Her Majesty’s Theatre in the West End in August, 1916. It ran for five years and 2,238 performances, more than twice the previous run for a musical at that time, and its record stood until “Salad Days” from 1954. A huge hit with Servicemen on leave in WW1, it boasted a dozen lavish scenes, spectacular sets and lighting effects and was inspired by the then English taste for all things oriental. One of the attractions was the chorus of girls, scantily dressed for the time, who performed as slaves; there was also a camel, donkey, poultry and snakes.
“Chu Chin Chow” was first staged at the Hippodrome in 1949 but it returned even more spectacularly on Ice for the Christmas season in 1953/1954, with a huge cast of over 100.There was a production by the Birmingham and Midland Operatic Society in November, 1958 and an expensively re-staged version in October, 1959, starring New Zealand singer Inia Te Wiata.
Other musicals featuring the Chinese community of San Francisco have been Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Flower Drum Song”- the only production of which at the Hippodrome was by the BMOS in October, 1966. “Thoroughly Modern Millie” features a Chinese laundry, which is a front for selling young, naive provincial girls into slave labour. It was staged here in April, 2005 and again, with Lesley Joseph and Grace Kennedy, in June, 2007.
“The World of Suzie Wong”, a play staged here in November, 1960, was about a young English artist in Hong Kong who befriended and eventually married a Chinese woman who worked as a prostitute. It starred Derek Waring and Juliet Yuen.
In the 1970s, the Chinese entertainment on the Hippodrome’s stage was a reversion to our own roots as a circus. In June, 1976, The Chinese Circus Variety of Taiwan visited with 36 artists “in skilful acrobatic feats dating back to 200 BC”.
The Peking Opera was here in June, 1979 and again in October, 1986, wearing their traditional costumes, masks and headdresses.
The most regular Chinese influence at the Hippodrome is, of course, in the Pantomime “Aladdin”. However, the story comes from the “Thousand and One Nights”, a collection of fables told by Scheherazade and first collected together in Persia (now Iran) in the 9th Century. According to Peter Lathan in his history of Panto, “It’s Behind You!”, ” the source of the version we know is a 15th. Century Egyptian manuscript”. The story of Aladdin was first published in 1722 and was first performed as a Pantomime at Covent Garden in 1788. “The costumes were inspired by Chinese, Japanese and Persian”.
Aladdin’s real name was Arabic but over time, the setting of the Pantomime moved from Baghdad to Peking, as the English taste for Chinese art and culture blossomed.
The Hippodrome has staged 9 productions of Aladdin so far:-
- 1959/60- Dickie Valentine, Eve Boswell and Norman Evans
- 1967/68- Harry Worth, Yana, Lauri Lupino Lane, Peter Butterworth
- 1974/75- Larry Grayson, Alfred Marks, Keith Harris (Photo- Trinity Mirror)
- 1981/82- Danny La Rue, Dilys Watling, The Half-wits
- 1992/93- Brian Conley. Michael Elphick, Britt Eckland
- 1998/1999- Brian Conley, Danny La Rue
- 2002/2003- Amanda Barrie, Bobby Davro, Melinda Messenger, Don Maclean, John Challis
- 2007/2008- John Barrowman, Don Maclean, The Grumbleweeds, Masashi Fujimoto as the Emperor
- 2015/2016- Marti Pellow, Julian Clary, Lee Mead, Matt Slack, Andrew Ryan
Perhaps Aladdin is so popular because it offers the chance for oriental sparkle and spectacle, with colourful costumes and eye-popping scenes and effects. In many ways, it reflects the popular appeal of “things Chinese” (including these days, food!) from way back in the 19th Century, even though these perceptions are stereotyped and bear little relation to the present day.
Ivan Heard- Hippodrome Heritage Volunteer
- Bollywood entertainer Shaimak Davar presents Spirit of INDIA – a lavish celebration of the Indian sub-continent featuring a cast of 250 dancers & over 150 local school children
- Dance-circus and digital technology combine in Motionhouse’s electrifying production of Charge
- Celebrated female choreographers take centre stage in new UK Touring programme from Canada’s leading contemporary dance company, Ballet British Columbia
From Kathak to contemporary, ballet to Bhangra and beyond, experience a world of dance at your fingertips this March at Birmingham Hippodrome.
On Sun 11 Mar, Shiamak UK productions invite audiences on a journey to the mystical heart of the Indian subcontinent in the feel-good song and dance spectacular, spirit of INDIA.
Presented by Bollywood singing sensation, Shiamak Davar – one of India’s foremost entertainment icons – spirit of INDIA – a SHIAMAK UK production, guides audiences through the rich history, diverse cultures and transformation of India into the modern era through the magic of music, sensational dance and a stunning chorus line of colourful and intricate costumes.
A celebration of India’s spirituality, mythology, festivals, flamboyant weddings, magnificent music, exhilarating dances and of course Bollywood, this production manifests the true spirit of this deeply multi-cultural nation. Spirit of INDIA first debuted in August, 2017 to a packed house and a standing ovation. Soon after the premier in London, the production travelled to Paris to celebrate 70 years of Indian Independence at the prestigious Salle de Fete.
The show will be performed by 90 dancers from The SHIAMAK UK Dance Team and 300 students from The SHIAMAK Dance Academy in Greater London, Leicester, Birmingham, Coventry, Nottingham, Milton Keynes & Manchester. The evening performance of Spirit of INDIA will be accompanied by a pre-show curtain raiser performance featuring156 children drawn from local secondary schools.
Following its premiere in autumn 2017 and sell-out shows across the UK, Italy, Germany and Denmark, Warwickshire-based dance-company; Motionhouse make their first visit to Birmingham Hippodrome on Tues 13 Mar with their electrifying new dance-circus production Charge.
In Charge, art and science collide: Dance-circus, film and music take audiences on a journey deep into the human body, tracing the extraordinary story of electricity in our lives. From the electrical charge that sparks human life, to the beating of our hearts and the memories we make, six exceptional dancers bring Charge to life with athletic dance, awe-inspiring acrobatics and daring feats on the 5m-high set.
2018 marks 30 incredible years since Executive Director Louise Richards and Artistic Director Kevin Finnan, MBE founded the company in 1988. In three decades the company has presented more than 40 productions across the world, last year alone more than nearly 80,000 people saw the company perform or took part in one of its dynamic learning and participatory activities that continue to inspire the next generation of dancers and audiences.
Finnan worked with Professor Frances Ashcroft and her team at the University of Oxford to delve deeper into the science that influenced Charge. Ashcroft published ‘The Spark of Life’ about electricity in the human body and is recognised for her outstanding contributions to the public’s awareness of science. Finnan’s Charge also explores the historical understanding of the role of electricity in the body, using Galvani’s experimentation with frogs to the popular interest in electricity that resulted in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this year celebrating its 200th anniversary.
The third element of Finnan’s ‘Earth Trilogy’, Charge builds on relevant environmental themes explored in Scattered (2009) and Broken (2013).
Commenting on Charge, Finnan said: “Charge takes my interest in contemporary themes about the world we live in one step further. Scattered tackled our relationship with water and Broken delved into our links with the Earth. For Charge I was inspired by a specific area of scientific research – our relationship with energy and the role electricity plays in the human body. We’re looking forward to bringing the third part of this trilogy to our audiences as part of our 30th anniversary celebrations.”
Completing this month’s high-energy offering are Canada’s leading contemporary dance company, Ballet British Columbia, who visit Birmingham Hippodrome on Fri 16 – Sat 17 Mar as part of their first UK Tour with a stunning triple-bill of exhilarating new work.
Ballet British Columbia’s only other UK engagement was two performances during International Dance Festival Birmingham 2016. Its 18-strong dancer-workforce returns to the UK for its first extended tour with the evening of dance that wowed festival audiences in 2016 – three works by three of the world’s most celebrated female choreographers: 16 + a room by Emily Molnar; Solo Echo by the globally renowned choreographer Crystal Pite; and Bill by Tel Aviv-based Sharon Eyal.
Molnar’s 16 + a room is inspired by the work of Virginia Woolf, Jeanette Winterson and Emily Dickinson. Sparked with explosive, fast-paced choreography that pushes the dancers to their athletic and technical limits, 16 + a room displays Molnar’s unique choreographic language through a complex study of time, transition and stillness.
Inspired by two sonatas for cello and piano by Brahms and the poem ‘Lines for Winter’ by Mark Strand, Pite’s Solo Echo portrays a man coming to terms with himself at the end of his life as the choreographer explores recurring themes of acceptance and loss.
The final piece of the evening is Bill by Tel Aviv-based choreographer Sharon Eyal. Dancers showcase their extraordinary skills in synchronised ensemble sections and solos in the work created by Eyal with her long-time collaborators Gai Behar and Ori Lichtik.
Emily Molnar, Artistic Director of Ballet British Columbia, said: “As ambassadors for dance, Ballet British Columbia is proud to represent Canada’s flourishing creative industry by touring the UK with an evening of works by three distinct female voices in contemporary dance. Following highly acclaimed tours throughout North America, we are honoured to be bringing this diverse evening of ideas and expression to a broad audience in the UK, one of the leading markets in international dance. As I approach my 10th anniversary as Artistic Director of Ballet BC, I cannot imagine a more special way to celebrate the accomplishments of this uniquely talented group of artists. We look forward to building a deeper conversation with UK audiences through our performances, workshops, master classes and artist talks.”
Tickets for all productions are on sale now. For further information and to book, call the Box Office on 0844 338 5000 or visit www.birminghamhippodrome.com
Birmingham Hippodrome is staging an exciting programme of free theatrical workshops this Easter half-term. Designed with the family in mind, children of all ages will be entertained with a range of free workshops from Monday 15 – Friday 19 April.
For the first time at the Hippodrome, the theatre will host an accessible Sensory Circus (17 Apr) for children with additional needs including Autism, Asperger’s and other complex disabilities. As well as the Sensory Circus, there will be specially created chill out spaces close-by featuring circus play tents filled with sensory toys and apparatus.
In partnership with DanceXchange, Family Yoga (15 Apr) will offer parents and their little ones the chance to spend some happy, healthy time together. In the Street Dance workshop (19 Apr) expect a Hip-Hop inspired event where kids can work up a sweat with seasoned Street Dance teachers in the lead up to B-SIDE Hip-Hop Festival, coming to Birmingham this May.
In-keeping with Easter traditions, Easter Activities (15-19 Apr) will invite families to create their own colourful eggs, plus the chance to take part in an egg-citing Easter egg trail. There’s also the chance to discover industry secrets with Stage Make-Up for Families (16 Apr), with the opportunity to create dramatic characters and artistic make-up for the stage.
Arts and crafts take centre stage in the Build your own Brum workshop (18 Apr), working with illustrator Tsz, you’ll get to redesign your very own Birmingham. You can also join a Protest Flag Making workshop (16 & 19 Apr) inspired by Les Misérables. Drop in and create a flag with a message of peace or protest.
In the Make Your Own Theatre Poster workshop (15 & 18 Apr), families can come together to create eye-catching theatrical posters inspired by some of the headlining productions that have graced the Hippodrome stage.
Birmingham Hippodrome’s free Easter activities will take place from Monday 15 – Friday 19 April. For more information here.
- Planning confirmed for Birmingham Weekender 2019 – remind yourself of how fantastic Weekender 2017 was! See birminghamweekender.com for our video!
- Plan your outdoor cultural highlights for 2018 from dance at Birmingham International Dance Festival 2018 in the city centre to classical music in Sutton Park with everything from Hip Hop, Film and Circus in between.
- Birmingham Weekender is the cultural blueprint for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Cultural Programme – hear about the city’s cultural ambitions here culturecentral.co.uk/birmingham-weekender-video-announcement
Culture Central, the development organisation for culture in the Birmingham city region, has confirmed that planning will begin this year for Birmingham Weekender 2019, which take place 27 – 29 September 2019.
To coincide with the news, the team are releasing two short films: a short highlight trailer from Weekender 2017 and a longer film that begins to share our wider ambitions for the sector – particularly in light of the announcement that the Commonwealth Games is coming to Birmingham in 2022.
The films highlight the impact Weekender 2017 had across the city as music, dance and theatre took over the streets, the City’s squares, shopping centres, car parks, the train station and onboard trams from the heart of the city out to mac Birmingham and Eastside Park. Generating an economic impact of £2.7m Weekender 2017 saw thousands of people participate with over 165,000 attendees attending an average of 3 events over the 3 days.
Gary Topp, CEO Culture Central said: “Weekender 2017 was more than just another city festival- it marked a change in the way that we are presenting the city as a distinctive, evolving and world-class place for culture. We were pleased to work with more organisations, more communities, more venues and more artists than ever before and create something that was genuinely ‘made in Birmingham’.
“The feedback has been great but we also know there is a long way to go- we look forward to working with our sector colleagues and our partners in the public and private sector to create Weekender ‘19 with even more collaboration, creativity and innovation and following the UTSAV Year of South Asian Arts, build on Birmingham City’s Year of Movement this year.”
As Birmingham City Year of Movement there are some great opportunities in 2018 to see dance, throw some shapes and move around the city to sample the best cultural events around. Expect a packed programme of festivals planned through until the autumn with over 25 festivals, diverse in their scale, genre and breadth demonstrating that Birmingham is a truly international city.
The cultural calendar for the city in 2018 is already in motion and includes:
- Celebrate Chinese New Year (16 – 18 Feb) in the Southside district of the City, featuring Modern Warrior by Rosie Kay (a Birmingham Weekender 2017 and DanceXchange joint commission) as well as celebrations across city centre with festival performances from Birmingham City University Conservatoire and Birmingham Royal Ballet.
- The University of Birmingham’s Arts & Science Festival (12 – 18 March) brings together leading artists, thinkers and scientists for a free programme of activity exploring arts, science and the spaces between.
- Classical music will be back in our train stations and concert halls as the CBSO celebrate the life of Debussy with the Debussy Festival, (16 – 25 March).
- Flatpack Film Festival (13 – 22 April) expect a packed programme of events, screenings, exhibitions and installations.
- Birmingham Hippodrome’s B-Side Hip-Hop Festival returns (11-13 May) with a weekend takeover of dance and rap battles, live music, workshops and graffiti in the streets around the theatre.
- The award-winning Birmingham International Dance Festival 2018 runs (1 – 24 June) in venues citywide and in public spaces expect a world of dance from Victoria Square to mac Birmingham.
- The CBSO and local artists will also return to the beautiful setting of Sutton to perform at this year’s Concerts in the Park (30 June – 1 July).
- BE Festival returns (3 – 7 July) turning conventional theatre upside down with a European programme that crosses borders, blurs boundaries and brings together audiences and artists.
- TILT Festival is the UK’s Aerial and Physical Theatre Festival (16 – 22 July) presents a week of master classes catering for beginners through to professionals as well as free outdoor aerial shows from emerging and world-renown circus artists.
- Summer in Southside (July 14-15) this popular annual free family festival returns with a mash-up of fun performances inspired by childhood and story-telling.
- The annual Moseley Folk Festival (31 Aug – 2 Sept) features a mix of traditional, contemporary and experimental folk and acoustic music preceded by Mostly Jazz.
- Alongside other Greenfield events such as Simmer Down Festival (July), Lunar Festival (July) and the recently announced Biggest Weekend in Coventry (May).
Steve Hewlett, Retail BID Manager said “Retail BID was proud to help bring arts and performance to the city centre streets, shops and spaces. Birmingham Weekender 2017 was a great festival and we are looking forward to supporting it in in 2019. With the city being host to the Commonwealth Games in 2022 it is important that we continue to deliver world-class arts and culture in Birmingham.”
Look back at Birmingham Weekender 2017 here: www.birminghamweekender.com
Find out more about Culture Central here: www.culturecentral.co.uk
For further information contact Helen Annetts, PR on behalf of Birmingham Weekender on 07779026720 or email HelenLAnnetts@hotmail.co.uk
Notes to Editors:
Birmingham Weekender 2017 – impact and achievements:
- Economic activity generated by the event £2.7m
- Economic impact on Birmingham £1.1m
- 25 new commissions
- 642 artists and performers including artists from Poland, France, Netherlands and Cyprus
- 164 performances including performances from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh
- 90% of the programme was free
- Thousands of people participated with 167,802 attendees, an average of 3 events over 3 days
- 60% of audiences stated the main driver for attending is ‘to be entertained’ with 41% attracted by the dance programme
About Birmingham Weekender:
The award-winning Birmingham Weekender presented a packed weekend of free outdoor theatre, music, art installations and performance from Brindleyplace to Eastside, including the city’s retail heart. For three days the city’s streets, shops and squares came alive with something to entertain and delight all the family.
About Culture Central:
Culture Central is the collective voice and development organisation for culture in the Birmingham City region. Culture Central has been created by a founding group of cultural organisations with the purpose of placing culture and creativity at the centre of economic and social future of the region. Culture Central work closely with a growing range of anchor institutions including universities and the business sector alongside an increasingly wide group of cultural and creative organisations.
Culture Central members include:
Ampersand and Projects
Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
Birmingham City University
Birmingham Museums Trust
Birmingham Opera Company
Birmingham Repertory Theatre
Birmingham Royal Ballet
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce
New Alexandra Theatre
Sampad South Asian Arts
Town Hall Symphony Hall
Open Theatre Company
University of Birmingham
The Old Rep