Bringing Shakespeare back to Birmingham

The Old Joint Stock Theatre presents the Birmingham Alternative Shakespeare Festival, 18-28 July 2012

Tim Hodgson of The Old Joint Stock Theatre in Birmingham city centre has teamed up with Frank Bramwell – playwright and founder of theatre practitioners inamoment – to present the first annual Alternative Shakespeare Festival.

Old joint Stock theatreThe festival is about celebrating Shakespeare, but is also about celebrating the local theatre community and the partnerships that the Old Joint Stock has developed under the tenure of their new theatre manager, Tim Hodgson, 26. ‘It all came from the Cultural Olympiad and the World Shakespeare Festival in Stratford,’ he says, ‘which is great, but seems to offer very little to the general public, which is really what Shakespeare should be about. So we – Frank and myself – decided to come up with our own festival, using local talent to bring new and unusual ways to present Shakespeare.’

All of the pieces in the festival are created by the Old Joint Stock’s resident companies. The festival begins with Birmingham Metropolitan College’s BMAPA Performing Arts students presenting two abridged and very modern adaptations of The Tempest and the Taming of the Shrew – each just 45 minutes long. Later in the festival the Old Joint Stock’s resident comedy improv group, Upstairs Improv, have added a one-off Shakespearean theme to their regular 4-way improv battles.

Sandwiched between them is a revival of Frank Bramwell’s hit Shakespeare sequel ‘Romeo and Juliet For All Time’, in which the lovers are reunited and given one hour to change their fate. Frank’s play premiered at the Crescent Theatre here in Birmingham and received the Hairline Highlight Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for a ‘play that stood head and shoulders above other plays reviewed.’

The flagship of the festival is the premiere of Frank’s new Shakespeare sequel, ‘Ophelia, Princess of Denmark’, in which Hamlet, King Claudius and Hamlet’s doomed love Ophelia find themselves marooned in the afterlife, and seek to find out just what really happened first time round in the original Hamlet: what follows is a fantastic re-exploration of many of Shakespeare’s most famous words and well known themes.

The Old Joint Stock Theatre ALTERNATIVE SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL       18-28 July 2012

18-19 July – 7.30pm
THE TEMPEST & TAMING OF THE SHREW   £10 (£8 concessions)

20-21 July – 7.30pm (Sat Mat – 2pm)
ROMEO & JULIET FOR ALL TIME                   £12 (£10 concessions)

26 July – 8pm
IMPROV SLAM (Shakespeare Edition)         £7.50

27-28 July – 7.30pm (Sat Mat – 2pm)
OPHELIA, PRINCESS OF DENMARK               £12 (£10 concessions)

Festival Ticket: £35 (£25 concessions)

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Old Joint Stock Theatre, 4 Temple Row West, B2 5NY