Festival featuring the best of European theatre, dance and performance returns to Birmingham.
As Britons vote on whether to remain in Europe, BE FESTIVAL, Birmingham’s festival celebrating the best of European theatre, returns to the city from 21st–25th June. Featuring over twenty electrifying performances from ten European countries, plus live music, exhibitions, workshops, discussions and delicious food, and with the European referendum happening in the middle of the festival on June 23rd, BE FESTIVAL offers an adventurous programme celebrating all that is great about Europe.
The week-long festival brings together daring and unforgettable new theatre, dance and circus performances from Spain, Italy, Switzerland, France, Germany and Slovenia among others. Taking place in the vast set construction workshops at Birmingham Repertory Theatre and other locations in the city, each night of the festival features four short performances and an interval dinner where audiences and artists mingle and eat together.
Festival highlights include a super-sized painting inspired by Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan and created by Spanish artist An Wei on the floor of the city’s Centenary Square, Massive Battleships – a large scale outdoor version of the classic naval guessing game, and Things Easily Forgotten – Xavier Bobés intimate and sensory journey into Spanish history.
Highlights in the main evening theatre programme include the hypnotic and tribalistic In Girum Imus Nocte (Et Consuminur Igni) – which translates as We Go Around At Night Consumed By Fire – by Italian choreographer Roberto Castello and dance company Aldes, and Vacuum by leading Swiss contemporary dance company, Cie Philippe Saire – a piece that generates impossible images and fantastic paintings as bodies appear and disappear between black holes and dazzling lights.
Two previous BE FESTIVAL 1st Prize Winners return with their latest shows. Inspired by Samuel Beckett’s philosophy on the benefits of failure – fail and then fail better – Teatro Sotterraneo’s show, Reload, evolves through a series of stage interruptions. Last year’s 1st Prize winners at BE, TIDA return with a full length version of their award-winning show, Quintetto, alongside a new piece that follows the evolution of a woman, Piccole Donne (Little Women).
In a nod to the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, Italian company, CollettivO CineticO stage a rollercoaster of drama with audience members competing to play Hamlet. From the Czech Republic is Collective Loss of Memory by DOT504 – a powerful and brutal show that places five men in a confined space where masculinity is championed. Contrasting this is Uncanny Theatre’s You Had To Be There – a funny and clever attempt to create one glorious and memorable ‘you had to be there moment’.
New for this year’s festival is Early Ideas – a strand of short theatre pieces and works in progress all of which will be given the chance to perform at next year’s festival as voted for by the audience. Also new is a late night music strand, The BE Late Stage, featuring Birmingham cumbia band, Manos Pa’Arriba for a special referendum party night. Further music acts will be announced at a later date.
Miguel Oyarzun, BE FESTIVAL Co-director says of the festival: “BE FESTIVAL is all about giving UK audiences a varied taste of some of the most exciting theatre happening across Europe. It’s really timely that this year’s festival is taking place at the same time as British people vote in the European referendum – we’ll be exploring what it means to be a European citizen and we want to encourage audiences to learn from other cultures as well as having a great night out!”
The Best of BE FESTIVAL – highlights from the 2015 festival – is touring across the UK from 6th April–6th May. Full details at www.befestival.org/tour/