In countdown to our first ever Patrick Centre Christmas Show – The Snow Dragon – from 19 Dec – 7 Jan, we caught up with Programme Producer Chris Sudworth to learn more about his exciting role researching, developing and commissioning new work in our Patrick Centre studio.
From ground-breaking dance to the best in quality children’s touring theatre, Chris’ vital work, both on stage and out in the community, is helping to ensure that even more people feel welcome at Birmingham Hippodrome.
How long have you worked at the Hippodrome?
I joined the team in June this year, so just over 6 months now. The time has really flown by.
What made you want to work here?
Over the past couple of years, in addition to the fantastic productions that people have come to expect on stage, the Hippodrome has been playing an ever bigger part in major events and festivals across the region, and has ambitions to make bold and brilliant shows here in Birmingham that really represent the people and spirit of our city. It was incredibly exciting to get the opportunity to be part of that new chapter in the story of one of the country’s leading theatres.
How would you describe your job?
Fast paced and fabulous! It’s very varied, but my main responsibility is to work with our Artistic Director & Chief Executive Fiona Allan and our Hippodrome Projects team to find productions and develop projects for our stages, foyers and other spaces; then work with producers and visiting companies to agree everything from financial deals to first night parties!
My role involves a lot of partnerships: with our resident companies DanceXchange, Birmingham Royal Ballet and Welsh National Opera; with the producers who bring shows to us; with national touring networks including The Movement (with Sadler’s Wells and The Lowry) and Music & Lyrics (that created The Addams Family recently); with local initiatives such as Culture Central and the city’s new Dance Hub; and with the artists we support to make new work.
How would you describe a typical working day?
Like most people on theatre, there isn’t one! But that’s a big part of what makes working here exciting.
That said, a big part of my role is connecting and communicating with all our departments and so the day will usually include a mix of meetings, emails, phone calls with people inside the Hippodrome and our wide range of partners.
What’s the favourite part of your job?
It’s a really exciting time at the Hippodrome just now, there’s a real buzz around the place and I feel very fortunate to work with fantastic people throughout our teams.
My favourite parts of the role are finding and booking productions to appear on our stages and encouraging more people to come and experience what we have on offer.
While making sure we still bring the best shows to Birmingham on the main stage, we are developing an equally brilliant programme of performances in the Patrick Studio.
We now have monthly family shows with free pre-show craft activities and world class, small scale dance and physical theatre performances every few weeks, including premieres from some of the best new companies from the UK and beyond.
What’s your favourite production in general?
I’m really lucky that my job involves seeing lots of great work, but also the opportunity to bring some of it to Birmingham.
As such, two of my favourite shows from the last few years are in our new season in the Patrick Studio in the next few months: five-star physical theatre production Translunar Paradise by Theatre ad Infinitum in January, and the inventive and internationally acclaimed White for young families in March.
Beyond those, spectacular physical performances stay with me, such as De La Guarda which I saw at London’s Roundhouse around about 15 years ago, and Slava’s Snow Show which is still performing to packed houses around the world.
What are you most proud of achieving here?
How our new programme and partnerships are welcoming people from across our city’s communities and making the Hippodrome feel like home.
The TEDx events in October saw our teams work hand in hand with some of the city’s most dynamic and diverse young leaders and inspirational thinkers to transform our spaces through a festival of ideas. In September, with arts and community partners, the Hippodrome took a leading role in delivering the wonderful Birmingham Weekender, supporting and showcasing artists that brought our city alive, with around 175,000 people experiencing performances in our streets and public spaces.
Which show/event are you most looking forward to in the coming season?
All of them?!
I’m delighted that we are hosting the European Premiere of #JeSuis by Aakash Odedra Company in February, and – a little further ahead – I can’t wait to bring my daughter to Matilda.