Birmingham Rep goes into the community

Carnivals and community centres bring theatre to life.

Birmingham Repertory Theatre has joined forces with the residents of five communities across Birmingham to bring a range of theatre performances to life on their home turf and also at The REP throughout July and August.

From an audio walking tour to a thriller based on an historic murder case, residents of Birchfield, Quinton, Harborne, Sparkbrook, Washwood Heath, Smethwick, Oldbury and Welsh House Farm can enjoy a range of performances in their communities that have been created with and for them by artists from Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

In this ambitious project each of the five performances have been made through collaborations and conversations with local people. It’s all part of The REP’s community theatre project, Furnace, an initiative designed to bring together local people to create exciting theatre with, for and about communities in Birmingham and the Black Country.

Tessa Walker, Associate Director at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, said: “Theatre has great power to bring people together. It has been an amazing experience to discover so many extraordinary stories from people who are a part of these very different communities across Birmingham. Each of the performances that have been made through this project are rooted in the stories, experiences and areas where they began, seen through the eyes and ears of the communities who have created them.”

Launching the first of the Furnace season is Our Feast by Rachel Mainwaring (3rd and 5th July). Rachel has been working with the Dolphin Women’s Centre and Birchfield Big Local to create a feast of food, stories and performances. This event will invite audiences to share in this feast of food while listening to the moving, inspiring and surprising stories that have been discovered as part of this collaboration.

It’s more than sixty years since sweetshop owner Fred Jeffs was murdered in Quinton. To this day, the case remains unsolved. Writer, director and great-nephew of Fred Jeffs, Graeme Rose, re-examines the case of his Great Uncle’s murder in Fred Jeffs: The Sweet Shop Murder (11th-13th July). With members of the local community who remember the murder, Graeme will re-visit the original evidence and present clues, leads and findings in a story that has all the ingredients of a classic noir thriller.

Artist Sarah Hamilton Baker has created a promenade piece with Focus Birmingham, a local charity for sight loss. The Sense of You (17th and 18th July) weaves an intricate soundscape with live performance in a sensory performance guided by sound, taste, smell and touch.

Run The World (25th July) is an audio walking tour celebrating the spirit of Sparkbrook, created by writer, actor and personal trainer, Manjeet Mann, with women from the Ashiana Community Project. The audio walk has been formed from experiences the women have shared, stories they have told and routes they have walked and run in their weekly get-togethers. The walk will be the central part of a family picnic day that will bring together the local community and will also feature some live performances from the women Manjeet has worked with.

As well as the usual parade, this year’s Welsh House Farm Carnival route will have pop-up encounters and interactive installations woven through and around it as part of Echoes of the Estate. Inspired by residents’ collaborations with artist Jay Crutchley, Echoes of the Estate will feature large scale theatre, mini moments of live storytelling in people’s homes and public art from around the estate that will invite you to see it from another angle.

All performances are free to attend with further information available from