Drama at the stadium

New Rep production brings football to the stage.

The drama of theatre meets the thrill of football in a new show, STADIUM at Birmingham Repertory Theatre from 9th– 17th June. Featuring real stories as told by Birmingham City, Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion fans, their extraordinary memories and unconditional love for their teams come under the spotlight, building a unique picture of the sport and its fans.

Exploring football versus theatre, team rivalry, mascots, Brexit and even Peaky Blinders, STADIUM features interviews and insights, music and songs from local fans and inspirational supporters. From a bagpiper who has played at hundreds of matches to local legend and Baggie fan Blind Dave Healey; the bride who got married in the colours of her beloved Blues to the Villa Rockets Powerchair football team, STADIUM brings together many voices but with one thing in common – absolute passion for the game.

For STADIUM, director and creator Mohamed El Khatib has met and interviewed hundreds of fans at local matches. He says: “Football is a real passion of mine – I’ve been a fan and player since I was six. For me football is a kind of education, it brings people closer together and it’s an experience full of unexpected encounters. It is sometimes said that football fans are the best audiences, confirmed by an obvious proof of unconditional love for the sport. Stadium will highlight the energy, the commitment, and the beauty that can originate from football.”

Mohamed El Khatib is an author, director and performer based in France. A leading voice in French contemporary theatre, his previous work has garnered success at Avignon Festival with shows including A Beautiful Ending – based on interviews with his mother and I Corinne, Dadat – a part fictional, part documentary portrait of a cleaning lady. His work aims to bring together drama with other media such as film, installations and newspapers and to observe the friction they produce.

Joining Mohamed El Khatib is designer Fred Hocke and choreographer Dimitri Hatton.

STADIUM is part of Furnace, The REP’s pioneering three year programme to collaborate with bold artists and make extraordinary work which celebrates communities. The first project took place last year with We’re here because we’re here, co-produced by The REP and the National Theatre to commemorate the Battle of the Somme. As part of Furnace, five new pieces of theatre created by emerging artists with and for local communities will also take place in July in Ladywood, Alum Rock, Erdington, West Bromwich and Sparkbrook. Furnace will culminate in a large scale production in 2018.

Photos – Kris Askey.