Summer in Southside, Day 2: Euro Stars

 

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After a successful launch with Live and Local last Saturday, Summer in Southside 2014 got well underway this weekend. On Saturday 16th August, Euro Stars showcased some amazing live acts from across Britain and Europe.

From 1pm, The Museum of Everyday Life took over Hurst Street, offering passers-by the opportunity to “transform [them]selves into a work of art” as part of an interactive photography exhibition, designed to “make the ordinary extraordinary”. Meanwhile in Arcadian, the Hippodrome Plus Youth Ambassadors busily prepared for Talkaoke and Tea, ready to engage audiences in interesting conversations about the shows they’d seen or hoped to see throughout the day. Discussion kicked off with a family-friendly chat about birthday parties, in advance of Wet Picnic‘s “funny” yet “sad” show The Birthday Party, scheduled to start up nearby at 2pm.

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At 1.30, the first performances of the day began. Outside the Hippodrome theatre, Acrojou wowed audiences with their poignant, physical exploration of our unhealthy obsession with productivity in Frantic. The show scrutinized our determination to give up all our time and energy to jobs and other less important aspects of our lives that all too often leave us unfulfilled – a topic which would later emerge in conversation around the Talkaoke table. At the same time, in Arcadian, a trio of three acrobats showed off their skills in Mattress Circus‘s comic Heights, a fun, lighthearted performance that proved a favourite with family audiences.

 

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At 2, slapstick clowning gave way to moments of dark humour and brutal honesty in The Birthday Party, while in Inge Street, the De Fakto Company from France presented dance spectacular Le Petit Bal 2 Rue, blending inspiration from French films of the 50s and 60s with contemporary dance and hip hop to tell the story of two performers at a very important audition.

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Described as a “funny and funky” sound experiment, Radio Patio was performed by Spanish artist Pere Faura at the Hippodrome Dock at 2.30, combining movement with radio noise to create an entirely unique experience. From the Netherlands, Gijs Van Bon‘s sand-writing robot Skryf roamed the streets, leaving behind a long trail of words soon blown away by the breeze. At Summer in Southside, Skryf’s ephemeral tracks were made up of poetry written by Hippodrome Plus youth ambassadors Sipho Dube and Cassandra Wiggan.

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Following this, in Inge Street, Haywood Hix‘s comedy play Works told the tale of two would-be inventors, mixing ramshackle engineering with a dry sense of humour. Finally, a partially improvised version of Les GoulusThe Horsemen popped up late in the day, after an unfortunate loss of baggage at Paris airport! Three aspiring Olympic equestrians were spotted riding through the streets on broomsticks as part of their…er…training. Let’s hope they eventually retrieved their missing horses!

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As the day came to a close, Southside was once again invaded by strange, alien creatures – very different to last week’s curious tourists The Roswells. Close Act Theatre‘s eerie, one-eyed iPuppets seemed to float around above the crowds, peering into faces and investigating the performance spaces. There may be know way of knowing for sure what these serenely silent robots ultimately made of Birmingham, but we’re confident the festival will have made a good impression!

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Summer in Southside continues next weekend with the Bank Holiday Jamboree, featuring a diverse array of shows taking place across Saturday and Sunday. Visitors will be able to experience Southpaw Dance Company‘s amazing Faust, as well as take part in our late-night wrap party, so make sure you don’t miss it! For more information, visit the Birmingham Hippodrome website, or check out the Summer in Southside tumblr.

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Summer in Southside, Day 1: Live and Local

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The summer holidays are here at last, and what better way to spend the warm, sunny days (well, mostly…) than enjoying three weekends packed full of free theatre, music and dance? This Saturday (9th August), marked the first day of Summer in Southside 2014, an exciting outdoor performance festival put together by Hippodrome Plus and taking place in streets, squares and pubs around the Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre.

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After the success of Summer in Southside 2013, the festival has this year been expanded from just two weekends to include a much broader range of performances. On Saturday, “Live and Local” kicked off at 1pm with A Haka Day Out in Arcadian and Talking Birds’ Cricketers in the Hippodrome Square. Cricketers is a short, interactive comedy show that sees viewers roped into an amateur game of cricket with some hilarious consequences, while A Haka Day Out allows audiences to learn the traditional Haka war dance in workshops with Maori (New Zealand native) performers. Related arts and crafts activities such as tribal face and body painting also took place alongside the show.

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Next up were 2Faced Dance Company’s Two Old Men, an extraordinary, acrobatic, dance fusion performance telling the story of two old friends over a little journey ending at the local pub, as well as Tin Box Theatre’s Pint Dreams, a blend of folk music, puppetry and traditional storytelling taking place at The Old Fox pub. Following these, Corey Baker’s light-hearted Headphones emerged in Hurst Street, showcasing a plethora of dance styles and musical genres, and at 3pm, Arcadia played host to an hour of hip hop and break-dancing by a series of talented local acts.

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Throughout the day, performances were repeated to ensure plenty of opportunities to catch each show. Every 10-15 minutes, Highly Sprung’s beautiful fairy tale Travelling Treasury was told inside a caravan in Inge Street that had been gorgeously decorated to give audiences the sense that they were walking into the pages of a book. Also by Highly Sprung, alien family The Roswells wandered around the Southside area, taking photos, having a picnic and enjoying their summer holiday on Earth. Meanwhile, Pod Projects and Eye Candy Festival presented an assortment of wares by regional artists, illustrators and designers at the Bicycle Basket Bazaar – a “kind of art fair meets car boot sale”.

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Those who wanted to share their thoughts on the performances – or anything else on their mind – were invited to come and chat to Hippodrome Plus Ambassadors over a cup of iced tea at the Talkaoke table situated in Hurst Street. Talkaoke is a relaxed, pop-up chat show that enables participants to lead a discussion on a topic of their choice. Set to reappear on every day of the festival, Talkaoke will be situated in Arcadian next Saturday.

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As the daytime performances wrapped up and the evening began, budding DJs were invited to bring along their own records and show off their skills in Come Vinyl With Me while enjoying a drink in Arcadian, before moving on to the Hippodrome Dock for a trippy clubbing experience inside a giant white balloon called The Pod.

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If you missed Summer in Southside this weekend, or if you enjoyed the shows, make sure you come along next Saturday (16th August), for “Euro Stars”, where you’ll be able to catch some amazing international acts, ranging from Acrojou’s spectacular Frantic to Gijs van Bon’s sand-writing robot, Skryf. Don’t forget to let us know what you thought on Twitter (@brumhippodrome) using the hashtag #bhoutdoors. For more information on the festival, visit the Birmingham Hippodrome website, or check out the Summer in Southside tumblr.

Talkaoke photos by Matthew Kong.