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A virtual one-day Midsummer Festival of arts & culture TODAY!

Start planning your (virtual) festival day… on Sat June 20 there's 12 hours of performances from 33 companies, including the RSC, Birmingham Royal Ballet, and Leamington Spa’s Motionhouse.

ACE Dance and Music. Credit: Brian Slater

With social distancing halting any festival plans this year, enjoy a new one-day arts & culture festival celebrating the Summer Solstice and World Refugee Day with a packed programme of free live, archived or pre-recorded virtual performances and events – the brainchild of the West Midlands Culture Response Unit. And it’s all free!

This huge celebration of West Midlands arts and culture runs from 11am – 11pm and include 12 never before seen works.

RSC highlights

  • 1.15pm – Festival plans scuppered this summer? If you’re thinking of setting up a tent in your garden ready for the BBC’s Glastonbury 50th anniversary next weekend the RSC’s assistant set designers will be offering their skills. They will be running a workshop on the RSC’s showing you how to recreate A Midsummer Night’s Dream inspired ‘Fairy Bower’ den on your lawn – think lots of fresh flowers, glitter and LED fairy lights. Don’t shower for three days and it’ll be just like the real thing.
  • Wild Thyme Stories – Actors from the company, including Amy Trigg, Amelia Donkor and Alice Blundell, have made video stories about what they’ve enjoyed about exploring the natural world and the personal paths they’ve travelled during lockdown. This has been inspired by a quote from Midsummer’s Night’s Dream: ‘I know a bank where the wild thyme blows’. If you fancy, share your own journeys with the RSC using the #MidsummerFestival
  • 3.35pm – Mechanical Antics #1 – a new reworking of Act 3 Scene 1 from A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by Hal Chambers, (assistant director of The Comedy of Errors, 2020) based on his own real-life experience with ‘The Mechanicals’ stuck in lockdown and trying out rehearsals on Zoom. (Issues also channelled by David Tennant and Michael Sheen in BBC’s Staged ?)
  • 9.50pm – a magical finale, Away with the Fairies. Find yourself a cosy place in your fairy bower as you’re lulled to sleep by fairies Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth and Mustardseed.

What else is on?

WILD, Motionhouse. Photo: Dan Tucker

Highlights include:

Sonia Sabri
  • Midsummer Festival also takes inspiration from World Refugee Day on Sat June 20. Ikon Gallery and Celebrating Sanctuary Birmingham will present Soapbox, 20 quick-fire, home-produced, soapbox videos based on the week’s theme of Imagine at 11am; at 4.30pm watch Digital Shorts – film screenings of refugee stories from Birmingham Opera Company and there’ll be Midsummer Moments at 9.30pm a tribute to African-American actor Ira Aldridge from ACE Dance and Music.
  • 12.30pm – WILD, a daring outdoor dance-circus production by Leamington Spa based Motionhouse (pictured above)
  • 1.45pm The Dream by Birmingham Royal Ballet – an eight-minute film of Sir Frederick Ashton’s one act masterpiece based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream performed by BRB in 2016.
  • 3.05pm – Soliloquies and Dialogues. Birmingham Contemporary Music Group will perform a series of new pieces from composers around the globe whose countries have been significantly impacted by COVID-19. Composers were asked to create a piece for a solo artist and worked with that musician over digital platforms to rehearse, refine, and record their music. 
  • 5pm – Wolves Are Coming For Youby Joel Horwood – rural recordings from Pentabus Theatre recorded in Worcestershire
  • 7.45pm – Titania’s Dream by Compton Verney. A new pre-recorded short film created and performed by Hannah Young and Nicky Cox. It was inspired by Peter Hall’s celebrated 1968 film of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream shot at Compton Verney starring Judi Dench and Helen Mirren.
  • 9.05pm – Kathakbox, a production combining Indian Kathak dance’s grace and vigour and rhythms & rhymes of hip-hop culture. Award-winning Sonia Sabri is one of the leading contemporary South Asian dance & music companies in the UK. 
  • 8.30pm – A Summer Holiday Singalong by Ex-Cathedra
  • Midsummer Vogue Closing Party hosted by DanceXchange, with a 15-minute tutorial followed by a 30-minute DJ set and dance party.
  • Plus lots, lots more…
Midsummer Vogue Closing Party. Photo by Ryan-Bayliss

You can see the full schedule here. See all the performances and events streaming on the Midsummer Festival main page. Individual arts companies and venues are also sharing online.

Midsummer Festival is raising funds for the Freedom Fund for Black Artists in the West Midlands. The fund will be used to respond to Black Artists individual needs at this current moment in time.

Find more ideas here

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