• Hinton Magazine

BE FESTIVAL - Garden State

A programme of performances, talks and workshops has been announced to take place in Garden State, a four-day installation that is made up of plants lent by local residents, placed in Midlands Arts Centre to create a conceptual map of the city. The installation is one of two large scale art works that make up this year’s BE FESTIVAL (Birmingham European Festival of Performing Arts), the final one for artistic directors Isla Aguilar and Miguel Oyarzun after 13 years at the helm. The performances in Garden State all relate to the themes of the garden: the natural world, climate change, and migration and pollination. The line up includes


  • Forced Entertainment’s Tomorrow’s Parties, a playful and poignant look at multiple hypothetical futures. From utopian to dystopian visions, science fiction scenarios, political nightmares and absurd fantasies, the show speculates on what the future might hold

  • One of the UK’s most acclaimed and internationally renowned disabled artists, Claire Cunningham presents 4 Legs Good, a lecture performance about her crutches and how they shape her world and her art – specifically the use and misuse, study and distortion of crutches

  • Casey Bailey, Birmingham Poet Laureate 2020-22, performing works inspired by the garden

  • Modified Toy Orchestra, who use children’s electronic toys to create random, ambient, fascinating music

  • Original contemporary jazz from celebrated pianist, composer and educactor David Austin Grey and his trio

  • Kids fun from Fatt Projects’ Palaver Party, an inclusive performance party for children aged 3 – 8

In addition, there will be a photography workshop looking specifically at capturing plants, talks about the future of green space in Birmingham and the role green space plays in the city, and a BE FESTIVAL closing party with global music from DJ Glynn Phillips. All events will be free to attend. Garden State is presented as part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival by Fabrice Mazliah / Work Of Act, formerly MAMAZA (Germany). They will be knocking on doors of residents from across the city to invite them to help transform the MAC’s main stage into an exotic ephemeral communal garden made of their favourite house plants, transforming the stage into an audience space. The installation is inspired by the myth of Libertalia, an anarchist colony in 17th century Madagascar where pirates liberated ships of slaves and they all lived together in freedom in an exotic and peaceful community. Garden State is one the Birmingham 2022 Festival’s Creative City projects generously funded by Birmingham City Council. BE FESTIVAL was created to turn the notion of theatre upside down, crossing borders, creative disciplines and blurring boundaries between audiences. In a change of programming, the festival will open with Trigger of Happiness (3 – 4 June) from Ana Borralho & João Galante (Portugal). Twelve young adults with no experience of being on stage will play Russian roulette with a list of questions about their lives, hopes and anxieties.

BE FESTIVAL (shortened from Birmingham European Festival) takes place annually in the Summer. Inspired by positive experiences touring to European festivals, Isla Aguilar, Miguel Oyarzun and Mike Tweddle were met with great enthusiasm to the idea of a new arts festival in Birmingham and soon fleshed out a plan on the back of a napkin at a Birmingham curry house. Each year a daring and innovative programme of boundary pushing theatre, dance, comedy, circus, music, visual and performing arts takes place turning theatre’s rarely seen backstages into a den of creativity, discovery and exchange where diverse cultures are celebrated. The youth performance programme, BE NEXT engages and empowers young Birmingham based artists performing a new piece of work on the last night of each festival. BE FESTIVAL has a touring wing, previously taking “The Best of BE” around the UK and Spain.

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