A Winter treat this month, working with Coventry’s own Talking Birds on a site-based performance in collaboration with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

The piece, a spurious Festival re-imagining the rained-off, final day’s parade organised 250 years ago by David Garrick. At that Festival in 1769, Garrick – the pre-eminent actor of his generation – unveiled a commissioned statue of the town’s famous son and created a Festival which would evolve through time, demanding a venue and permanent company whose reputation and legacy more than any other defines the dramatic culture of our land and language. The atmospheric, soggy and chilled environs of New Place played host to these shenanigans.


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A review of last week’s performance of The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety, directed by Calixto Bieito. A Birmingham REP production with Festival d’Automne, presented at Theatre de la Ville, Espace Pierre Cardin, Paris.

https://bachtrack.com/critique-the-string-quartets-guide-to-sex-and-anxiety-bieito-heath-quartet-espace-pierre-cardin-paris-novembre-2019

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HUMANISTAN

15Oct19

C'mon! Humanity

HUMANISTAN is a programme of work, to be nurtured, curated, presented through the vision of Chris O’ Connell and Julia Negus at Theatre Absolute. As opener to the programme, and at the same time marking 10 years of the wonderful Shop Front Theatre, are two pieces created through the ‘Live Briefs’ professional practice module at Coventry University. Stephanie Ridings and myself have been working with groups of 3rd year performance practice students at the University, and the fruits of these collaborations will be presented in the Shop Front this week, 16th – 18th October 2019.

Both pieces are discursive responses to a written provocation from Chris. An invitation to reassess what it is to be human and to connect with each other as responsible citizens.   C’mon! is the piece I have been developing. It takes its cue from the idea of the Commons, and the ‘tragedy of the Commons’ which threatens to undermine our rights of access to shared resources.

 


Don Quixote

31Aug19

Creation Theatre’s ‘Don Quixote’ opened last weekend in Oxford’s vibrant Covered Market. Jonathan Holloway has written, in characteristic style, a loose adaptation of Cervantes’s novel, in which two ageing friends, and hoarders, Dom and Sam, (performed by Eric MacLennan and myself) plot an adventure westwards along the A40.

Here’s a first review from Catherine Flutsch, with some excellent images by Richard Budd:

Don Quixote pic 1

 


Life Class

30Jun19

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Images from a memorable performance of Life Class by Bodies in Flight, presented at Lakeside Arts Centre, Nottingham, on midsummer’s night, 21st June 2019, with support from a terrific team, Dance4 and the tea dancers of the elders group at Nottingham Mechanics.

The performance was presented in tandem with an exhibition celebrating 30 years of the company’s work. Directed by Simon Jones and Sara Giddens, who formed Bodies in Flight back in 1989, and with whom I have had the great pleasure of being associated since first collaborating in 1992.

Life Class is a remarkable project that will continue to develop into the coming year.

Here is a review of the performance at Lakeside.

 


DSC_9395_medAs our run of five shows at Birmingham REP comes to an end, I have a moment to reflect on the extraordinary journey so far, and to thank all those who have made the journey possible. I will post a full list of credits down below, but the core creative team of Steve Johnstone (director), Claire Browne (designer), Sam Frankie Fox & Ricardo Rocha (original music and sound design, with additional playing from Martin Cox), Jeanette Maggs (stage manager) and Alex Boucher (lighting design) have helped me shape and create something that I am very proud of. DSC_9067_med

The whole enterprise was initially made possible through the REP’s FURNACE scheme, a programme of community engagement – through which I was able to conduct a lot of the early research, and make connections through the Sandwell Libraries.

With additional support this time round from Black Country Touring and the Arts Council, I am able to take the REP show, and offer a tourable version to community venues around the Black Country, and in the coming month I will be bringing Fred Jeffs to Stourbridge Glasshouse (5th June), Wednesbury Library (6th June), Thimblemill Library (7th June) and Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton (8th June). I’ll be fascinated to see how the show travels.

Audiences this week at The REP have been so generous and warm, and I’ve been overwhelmed by the response. Many people from Quinton and Warley have been present, and it has been a joy to share some of their memories in the post-show discussions which have accompanied the performances. For me, this is a vital part of the project, as the storytelling itself is a mere conversation starter to all the themes that get thrown up by the show.

For the time being, there are two remaining shows at The REP today, and a few tickets left. Maybe see you there?

 

List of Credits for the Theatre Show at Birmingham REP

Fred Jeffs: The Sweetshop Murder

Written and performed by Graeme Rose

Directed by                 Steve Johnstone

Designed by:               Claire Browne

Original music & Sound Design:

Sam Frankie Fox & Ricardo Rocha

Musicians:                 Sam Frankie Fox, Ricardo Rocha and Martin Cox (double bass & electric gtr)

Stage Manager:          Jeanette Maggs

Sound Technician        Clive Meldrum

Lighting Design by:      Alex Boucher

LX Assistant:               Aaron Murphy

Photos by Graeme Braidwood

 

For Birmingham Repertory Theatre

Producer                      Will Bourdillon

Dramaturg                  Tessa Walker

FURNACE programme (2018): Hannah Jones, Rosalyn Lesurf.

 

For Black Country Touring:

Natalie Kidman, Steve Johnstone, Frances Land, Deb Justice, Joanne Blunt and the rest of the team.

With additional thanks to;

James, Laura, and everyone at Stan’s Cafe,

Olivia Winteringham and Sam Fox at KILN ensemble,

Lamps originally designed / constructed by Ben Pacey, for the KILN ensemble production “A Journey Round My Skull”

Atxarte, and all at BEfestival,

Gareth & Phil, at Little Earthquake (East meets West consortium)

Paul Fox, at Fox Removals for the sampling and use of the Austin A35.

 

Interview Contributers for the Theatre version:

Tony Chew, Elizabeth Rose, Betty Rose, Roger & Pauline Philpot, Terry and Viv Wilson, Alan Dunnaker, Michael Rose, Tess Rochfort, Val Taylor, Maureen Bishop, Andrew & Carole Bowen, Alan Atkinson, Alan L Warr. Ray Jones, Denis, Eileen and ‘G’.

 

Sheila at Candies Sweetshop, the Back-to-Backs.

Jean-Luc & all at William Lench Court,

Jean Fenn and everyone at Bleakhouse Library, Warley

Old Warley Local History Group,

Julie McKirdy and everyone at Thimblemill Library, Smethwick

Chris Sutton and all at Smethwick Heritage Centre

James Hancock and all the Timmins family.

Visit the Fred Jeffs Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/fredjeffssweetshop/

for updates on the project.

 

Download the Podcasts from:

https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/fred-jeffs-the-sweetshop-murder/id1460283205

 


I’m pleased to announce a number of new performance dates for Fred Jeffs: The Sweetshop Murder, across the Black Country Boroughs. These are made possible thanks to the support of Black Country Touring.

 

Wednesday 5thJune, 7:30pm

Glasshouse Arts Centre, Wollaston Road, Stourbridge, DY8 4HF

Tickets: £8 / £6 Concessions

Box Office: 01384 399408

Online bookings: https://www.rmlt.org.uk/Event/the-sweetshop-murder

 

Thursday 6th June, 7pm

Wednesbury Library, Walsall St., Wednesbury, WS10 9EH.

Box Office Information: 0121 569 4945

 

Friday 7thJune, 8pm

Thimblemill Library, Thimblemill Road, Smethwick, B67 5RJ

Tickets: £4 in advance / £5 on the door

Box office: 0121 569 4943

 

Saturday 8th June, 7:30pm

Newhampton Arts Centre, Dunkley Street, Wolverhampton, WV1 4AN

Tickets: £7 / £5 Concessions

Box Office: 01902 572090

Online bookings: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/booking/select/akSfjyDCThVH

 

Stay tuned for further, additional dates. My hope is to extend the reach of the show throughout the neighbourhoods that feature in the show and Podcast series. There will be a short conversational end to the evening in which I talk about the making of the project and invite anyone who has a memory of the events of Easter 1957 to add to the evolving legacy of the project.

GR.


Fred at Bath Row

Fred Jeffs was born at Bridge of Allen, near Stirling, on the 23rd April 1919, which makes today a special occasion indeed. The above photo is the earliest I can find in my family’s possession and shows him in the back-yard at Bath Row, Birmingham, in the late 1920’s.

This morning, on what would have been Fred’s 100th birthday, director Steve Johnstone and I marked the beginning of rehearsals by visiting his grave in Quinton Cemetery. IMG_9600


Graeme FredJeffs A5 Flyer_REP_FrontGraeme FredJeffs A5 Flyer 02

 

Graphic Design: Sakab Bashir @darkhorse-design

Main Photograph: Graeme Braidwood

Downloadable:  FredJeffs A5 Flyer_REP

 


Life Class

19Feb19

BiF 30 Life Class

9th February saw the first work-in-progress performance of LIFE CLASS, marking the 30th anniversary of Bodies In Flight – the Bristol/Nottingham company co-founded by Simon Jones and Sara Giddens back in 1989.

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The original 1989 date was significant as being Simon’s 30th birthday. After several years lecturing at Lancaster University he had recently taken up a post at Bristol, where he remains Professor of Performance at the now grand (and frankly unbelievable) age of 60. Sara was my erstwhile collaborator in Glory What Glory, the first of many companies to emerge out of the Lancaster scene in 1988; inspired and mentored by Pete Brooks (Impact Theatre Co-op, Insomniac Prods, Imitating the Dog) who joined the Dept.at Lancaster as Fellow in 1986. But as Bodies In Flight, Sara and Simon have continued to create work – marrying their respective mediums of choreography & writing (the Flesh & the Text) in an impressive body of work.

Prior to the performance of LIFE CLASS, Dr. Andrew Quick (Imitating the Dog) spoke of the enduring legacy of the BIF at the launch of an installation of the Company’s work. Images by photographer/printmaker Ed Dimsdale, an accompanying exhibition of the Company’s work curated by the Theatre Collection at Bristol University and a video triptych by Tony Judge with edited highlights from the company’s back catalogue.

Tony has put together some of these images from this alongside extracts of Andrew Quick’s speech.

Happy Birthday, Bodies In Flight.

Life Class credits:

Simon Jones – writer / director
Sara Giddens – choreography / director
Tony Judge – video
Neil Johnstone – sound design / composer
Morven Macbeth & Graeme Rose – performers

with special thanks to Dance4, Nottingham, and Nottingham Mechanics.




Flickr Photos