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Looking ahead to the weekend already? Know how you feel. On the bright side it could bring possible romance, some Italian drama, art, music (classical/indie/ pop – whatever’s your thing), Matthew Bourne’s ballet version of The Red Shoes – and a new series of Girls on TV, what more could you ask…

La Strada, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Sat Feb 11 – Sat Feb 18

See La Strada a stage adaptation of Fellini’s 1957 Oscar-winning film, premiering first in Coventry before it tours the UK and transfers to The Other Place (Andrew Lloyd Webber’s latest venture) in London’s West End. It’s been adapted by Olivier-Award nominee Sally Cookson (Jane Eyre, The National Theatre & Hetty Feather, West End). Gelsomina is sold by her mother to Zampano, a travelling sideshow performer. Expect some impressive trickery as the show’s employed its own consultant magician.

Valentine’s Day Afternoon Tea & House Tour, Ragley Hall, Alcester,  Tue Feb 14

The stunning South Staircase Hall and mural, The TemptationExperience Alcester’s ‘hidden treasure’ in all its grandeur. You will also get to explore the winter gardens then enjoy a cream tea or afternoon tea prepared by Head Chef (with or without Prosecco) from £19 (11.30am- 3.30pm). Ragley Hall estate is the home of the 9th Marquess and Marchioness of Hertford and their children. Imagine growing up there…

Sixth and final series of HBO’s Girls is back on TV, Sun Feb 12

The Girls are back in town for the last time. It may have launched in 2012 but I binged on all 5-series last year. Watching the imperfect lives of these four white girls unfold in New York is like a flashback to the silliest  – and trashiest  – moments of your 20s. It’s won a heap of Emmy nominations and Best Comedy and Comedy Actress at the Golden Globes in 2013. In an interview with this month’s Nylon magazine Lena Dunham reiterates her regret over the cult hit’s lack of racial diversity.

Act-up for Valentine’s Day: Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, Sat Feb 11 – Sun Feb 12

Josette Simon and Antony Byrne in the RSC’s forthcoming Antony and Cleopatra, which opens in Stratford-upon-Avon on March 11 2017 © RSC

A ‘couple-y one’. Dress-up as your favourite Shakespearean couple, act out one of their romantic scenes with Shakespeare Aloud! then post it on social media. Older kids will love you for it! Alternatively, take a stroll on Feb 14 through Hall’s Croft Garden, put a message on the Valentine’s tree and enjoy a Valentine’s lunch at the cafe. Or, visit picture-box Anne Hathaway’s Cottage where Shakespeare first fell in love, post a Valentine’s message and the most romantic will be put on Twitter.

Valentine’s Origami Card-making, Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum, Sat Feb 11 

Rather than buy one, why not make a hand-made origami heart card to give to someone you love? (2-4pm) While you’re at it have a look at the gallery’s Journey Through Japan photo exhibition on loan from the Horniman Museum & Gardens in London. It documents Scottish-born Marjorie Bell’s travels around Japan with her mother and cousin over two months in 1903.

Regency Valentine’s Day Ball, Compton Verney House, near Kineton, Sat Feb 11

Kate Beckinsdale as Lady Susan in Love and Friendship based on Jane Austen’s novella Lady Susan. Photo: Bernard Walsh, courtesy of Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions

Ever fancied dressing up like a character in a Jane Austen novel? If so, why not dance the night away at a Valentine’s Regency Ball in the beautiful, romantic setting of a Grade I listed 18th century country mansion with your very own Mr Darcy (or maybe not!). But first you may need to master those 18th Century moves at a Ball Workshop. There’s also an optional tour of Compton Verney’s famous art gallery, a cream tea and a guided tour of Warwick in costume and a Sunday roast on Feb 12. The Ball, drink reception & supper, £75.

Kate Nash O2 Institute, Birmingham, Sun Feb 12

Re-scheduled from October 7 last autumn, Kate’s February UK tour is already sold out in 5 cities, supported by Los Angeles-based trio Gothic Tropic. The 2008 Brit-award winner, best known for her Noughties hit Foundations, recently moved to LA, founded a feminist collective and campaigned against the arrest of Russian feminist band Pussy Riot. Busy-bee Kate is currently working on album number 4. There’s only a few tickets left at the small, intimate O2 Institute.

Herbert Lates: The Non-Valentine’s Shindig, Coventry,  Fri Feb 10

If V-day fills you with dread, Coventry Pride has the perfect antidote – an afterhours winter warmer at The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum (7.30- 10.30pm). There’ll be music, spoken word, a disco and cinema room showing short films including The Truth about Meeting Women, Honk if you are Horny and Speed Dating. To coincide with the gallery’s new portrait exhibition Face-to-Face,  learn how to make a portrait of yourself using forensics with Coventry University’s School of Life Sciences. Free but book in advance via Eventbrite. Over 18s only.

Mariam Batsashvili, Town Hall, Birmingham, Feb 13, 7.30pm

Photo: Allard Willemse

Listen in awe to 24-year-old Russian-born Mariam Batsashvili who became the first female pianist ever to win the International Franz Liszt Piano Competition in 2014. No piano aficionado will want to miss her interpretation of Liszt’s towering B minor Sonata.

Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes, Birmingham Hippodrome, Tues Feb 7- Sat Feb 11

Matthew Bourne’s “enthralling” new ballet adaptation of the Powell and Pressburger film has the look of La-La Land and a new golden-age Hollywood score. The Red Shoes is the love story of two young artists (one dancer, one composer). As Matthew Bourne says: “In today’s culture everyone is very interested in what it takes to become a great performer or artist with the likes of TV and movies such as the X Factor, Black Swan and Strictly Come Dancing highlighting this and the question of what sacrifices need to be made. Audiences also love a backstage story.”


The Place is Here, Nottingham Contemporary, until April 30

Around 2,000 people, including DJ Don Letts, attended the opening of this unmissable new art exhibition last week which recognises the artists who put black issues in the spotlight in the 1980s.  The Place Is Here brings together around 100 works by more than 30 black artists from the 1980s including African artist Lubaina Himid, Sonia Boyce, the £40,000 Artes Mundi prize-winner John Akomfrah as well as Keith Piper, Marlene Smith, Eddie Chambers and Donald Rodney.




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