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Warwickshire & beyond: 26 cultural highlights

What's on Muddy's arts & culture radar this spring/summer?


Fleabag, Warwick Arts Centre, Thurs May 10 – Sat May 12

Also going on tour is the hit one-woman comedy by Phoebe Waller-Bridge which she adapted into an acclaimed BBC 3 TV boxset. The show is touring Cardiff, Warwick, Newcastle, Sheffield and Hove from April 26 – to June 9, featuring Maddie Rice.

Fleabag Tour Information

 RSC’s Summer Season


RSC new musical, Miss Littlewood, will debut at the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, June 22 – Aug 4, based on the life of legendary theatre director Joan Littlewood. Other highlights of the RSC’s 2018 season include Maria Aberg’s new production of Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi from March 1 -Aug 3 August, Christopher Eccleston and Niamh Cusack in Macbeth, March 13 –  Sept 18. Romeo and Juliet directed by Erica Whyman from April 21 –  Sept 21 and The Merry Wives of Windsor with David Troughton as John Falstaff from Aug 4 – Sept 22.


Shop Front Theatre Festival, Coventry, Fri March 23 & Sat March 24

Nick Walker’s Made in Store

Award-winning Theatre Absolute will be hosting the UK’s first ever Shop Front Festival next month bringing the magic of theatre, music, visual arts and live performances to unusual venues across the city. The innovative two-day festival will bring the creative arts to the city streets, with pop-up performances and opportunities to take to the stage. They include  a shop where visitors are invited to walk a miles in someone else’s shoes – literally –  while listening to their original owner telling you their story (A Mile in My Shoes, the Empathy Museum, 39 Smithford Way, Cov) – and a celebration of the Art of Queuing with Talking Birds’ The Q. Nick Walker’s intriguing Made in Store is a semi-improvised show for the city made in collaboration with shopkeepers while An Hampton’s Crazy but True is a fun fact-finding interactive installation for kids aged 8 – 11.

See the full two-day itinerary here:

The Belgrade’s Spring/Summer highlights 

The Play That Goes Wrong (2016 West End Cast) Credit Helen Murray

Following sell-out success in 2017, the multi-award winning West End comedy, The Play That Goes Wrong, returns to the Main Stage in March 2018. There’s fun for families with Dear Zoo based on the children’s book, an interactive sing-along adventure with Easter Bunny’s Eggs Factor and Horrible Histories is back with More Best of Barmy Britain! A major new touring production of Noël Coward’s sparkling comedy, Private Lives opens in April and Scottish musical Sunshine on Leith featuring the songs of The Proclaimers, returns in a brand-new production this June.

Belgrade Theatre Box Office: 024 7655 3055, belgrade

Shakespeare’s Birthday Weekender, Sun April 22 & Mon April 23

Mimbre performance, Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary event, Stratford-upon-Avon 2016. Photo by David Tett, c, RSC

This year’s birthday commemorations include a new community carnival as well as the traditional procession led by the Head Boy of Shakespeare’s old school, King Edward VI Grammar, the unfurling of flags and birthday banner and parade to Holy Trinity Church. Throughout the day further events will be announced by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the Royal Shakespeare Company including a Shakespeare’s Birthday Knights & Nymphs Garden dressing-up party for children in Hall’s Croft with sweet bites & fizz for grown-ups (12 – 4pm).


Wicked (April 4 – 29) & The RSC’s Matilda The Musical (Tue Jul 3 – Sat Sep 8), Birmingham Hippodrome

Pic credit: Manuel-Harlan, RSC

Two West End shows will be casting a spell over the UK’s second city.



Jake Bugg Solo Acoustic Tour, Warwick Arts Centre, Thurs March 8

Jake’s latest country-hued Hearts That Strain album recorded in Nashville features the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach on guitar and veteran studio musicians who backed Elvis and Wilson Pickett. Limited availability.


Gregory Porter, Symphony Hall, Birmingham, Thur April 5 & Fri April 6

The double Grammy Award-winning American jazz/soul singer returns to the Midlands for the first two nights of his 2018 UK tour.


Aracde Fire, Genting Arena, Birmingham, Sun April 15

One of the alternative Canadian powerhouse’s only six dates in the UK following the release of their critically-acclaimed Everything Now album of killer tunes.


Joan as Police Woman, Town Hall, Birmingham, Thurs April 19

See this thrilling live performer and starkly honest lyricist, who this month gave a stunning live session on Lauren Laverne’s 6 Music performing  songs from Damned Devotion, her rawest album yet. Famously a collaborator and muse to artists as diverse as Anohni, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed and Beck, since the release of her last album Joan has worked alongside fashion designers Viktor & Rolf as well as a growing list of musicians including Sufjan Stevens, Lau, RZA and most recently Daniel Johnston.


BBC Radio 2 & Radio 3’s  The Biggest Weekend: Coventry, Sun May 27 & Mon May 28

War Memorial Park is the venue for two days of performances by Billy Ocean, Jamie Cullum, Paloma Faith, Snow Patrol, UB40 featuring Ali, Astro & Mickey and Tears for Fears on the Sunday. On Monday the BBC Concert Orchestraa, Dinosaur, Eliza Carthy and the Wayward Band, GoGo Penguin, Milos and Nigel Kennedy will be entertaining the crowds.


Tears for Fears, Arena Birmingham, May 5 & BBC Radio 2 #BiggestWeekend Coventry, May 27

Influential ’80s pop duo Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith embark on their first UK tour for 18 years, bringing their first leg of their Rule The World Tour 2018 to Birmingham, with special guest Alison Moyet. They’ll be playing songs from their debut The Hurting, quintuple-platinum BRIT Award-winning Songs from the Big Chair, and Seeds of Love including Shout, Mad World, and Head Over Heels. They’ll also be coming to Coventry for Radio 2’s Biggest Weekend.

arenabham &

Gomez: 20th anniversary of Bring It On, various venues, April/May

Tickets are selling out fast for this 1998 Mercury Award winning album’s anniversary tour – there’s only six UK venues with tickets remaining as this goes to press. A Muddy 90’s fave.


All Points East Festival, London, May 25 – June 3 

A brand new 10-day event in East London’s beautiful Victoria Park encompassing a three day music festival, community focused programme of midweek entertainment and three huge headline shows with a glittering array of artists including Bjork, Beck, LCD Soundsystem, The xx, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Patti Smith and her band, St Vincent, Courtney Barnett, The National and Catfish and the Bottlemen.


Robert Smith’s Meltdown Festival, London’s South Bank Centre, June 15-24 

If you’re disappointed to have missed out on tickets for The Cure’s 40th anniversary concert in Hyde Park, London, on Sat July 7 you can always catch the next best thing – Robert Smith’s all-time favourite artists of the last 40 years in this 10-night extravaganza. A ‘must see’ event of the summer for fans. Acts to be announced shortly here.


Ravilious & Co: The Pattern of Friendship. English Artist Designers 1922-1942, Compton Verney, Sat March 17 – June 10 

Eric Ravilious, The Westbury Horse, 1939. Towner A, Eastbourne

Ravilious & Co will tell a story that has never been told before. This exhibition of the prolific artist and designer Eric Ravilious (1903-1942) also coincides with the 75th anniversary of his death in Iceland during the Second World War; while Created in Conflict: British Soldier Art from the Crimean War to Today will explore creativity in conflict with a focus on artwork made by British Armed Forces personnel.


After Hours: A walk in the dark at Shakespeare’s New Place, March 10

Explore the stunning art installations in the gardens of Shakespeare’s New Place in Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust’s special after dark tour. Let expert guides take you on a journey of discovery through the gardens where Shakespeare’s family home once stood.  See the glorious gardens lit up and view the sparkling new works by award-winning artists and a dynamic exhibition showcasing Shakespeare the writer, family man and businessman as never seen before. Tickets £10/£8 for Friends members. Other after-hours events include Life on a Tudor Farm on May 12 at The Shakespeare Centre & Photography Skills at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage on June 9.


Rie Nakajima’s Cyclic, Ikon, Birmingham, Wed March 21 – June 3

Rie Nakajima, photo by Greg Pope

Japanese artist Rie Nakajima is one of the most experimental artists working in the UK fusing sculpture and sound. She lives and works in London, and is very active especially in sound art and her music project O Yama O with Keiko Yamamoto. Rie will be giving a series of special live performances as part of her new exhibition beginning on Wed March 31, 6.30pm – 7.30pm, drop in. Also Sat April 21 as part of Flatpack Film Festival, Tues May 1, Tue May 22 and Sun June 3.


Wilderness, The New Art Gallery, Walsall until May 6


A group of artists whose works engage with the natural world and our innate need for solitude, peace and open space. View the truly wild places on our planet through paintings, drawings, photographs and film. Artists include: Boyd & Evans, Vija Celmins, Ralph Fleck, Noémie Goudal, Scarlett Hooft Graafland, Esther Johnson, Richard Long, Boomoon, Ben Rivers, Hiraki Sawa, Emma Stibbon.  Filmmaker Ester Johnson’s Hinterland (2002) will be shown on Thurs March 15, 6.30 – 8pm followed by a panel discussion.


Merge, Bankside, London, May 2018 

Bankside’s eighth quirky annual arts, music and performance festival where artists draw on the rich heritage and contemporary culture of the area. Previous highlights included the world’s first artist designed bumper car arena, a classroom of robots, artist Alex Chinneck’s melting wax house, caravan shorts and an eclectic live music programme.

Details of this year’s events will be announced on the Merge Festival website.

Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up, V&A, London, June 16 – Nov 4

The V&A is presenting the first exhibition outside Mexico of Kahlo’s clothing and personal possessions, including prosthetics, medicines, accessories, jewellery, photographs and letters discovered in the Blue House in 2004 following the opening up of cupboards and storerooms which had remained sealed for 50 years. This fascinating exhibition will explore Kahlo’s style paired with some of her most emblematic self-portraits. Highlights will include hand-painted corsets, examples of her famous Tehuana dress, and paintings such as My Dress Hangs There (1933) and The Love Embrace (1943). I can’t wait! Frida themed workshops will include digital illustration.



Live at the RSC: David Baddiel – My Family: Not the Sitcom, Sun June 3

David Baddiel at the Menier Chocolate Factory, London. Photo credit: Marc Brenner

Following a sold out run at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory, and two critically-acclaimed West End runs, David Baddiel brings his Olivier-nominated one-man show to the RST. My Family: Not The Sitcom is a show about memory, ageing, infidelity, dysfunctional relatives, moral policing on social media, golf and gay cats.  It’s a massively disrespectful celebration of the lives of David Baddiel’s late sex-mad mother, Sarah, and dementia-ridden father, Colin.

Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, £25.50, Box Office: 01789 403493, /david-baddiel 

Flight of the Conchords, Genting Arena, March 22

Credit: Sub Pop

The hilariously hapless New Zealand comedy/musical duo, Jermaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, will be stopping off in the Midlands.


Stellar Comedy line-up for 2018, Warwick Arts Centre

Shazia Mirza

his season continues with Ed Byrne (Thu Mar 1 ), Jonathan Pie (Wed Mar 7), Lucy Porter (Fri March 9) Craig Campbell (Sat Mar 10), Larry Dean (Sun Mar 11), Patrick Monahan (Sat Mar 17), Robin Ince (Fri Apr 13), Tiff Stevenson (Tue Apr 24), John Robins (Wed Apr 25), Radio Active (Tue Apr 26), Jason Manford (Sat Apr 28) and Shazia Mirza (May 11) with much more throughout the year.

Check out the full comedy line up here.


New-look Warwick Arts Centre

Conceptual image of how it will look

Warwick Art Centre has been awarded £4.2m for work enabling it to be a key venue in Coventry’s City of Culture 2021. Phase 2 will start in October 2018, seeing the demolition of the existing Cinema and Mead Gallery and creation of a new building to house three new digital auditoria and a large ground floor gallery to exhibit some of the very best contemporary art, sculpture and photography. The new building will also provide a spacious new-look foyer and café bar. Work should be completed by Oct 2020 transforming it into a redeveloped cultural and creative centre.

Full plans and a timeline of activity will be available to view here, warwickartscentre

The High Field Studio, Edgbaston, Birmingham

Looking for a fabulously cool new party venue over in Brum? Nestled inside a former architect’s studio with dramatic floor to ceiling windows, The High Field Studio comes complete with its own private bar and bags of space. And did I mention, it’s free to hire! Bonus. Next door is the equally stylish High Field gastropub, The Studio lends itself just as well to smaller gatherings over drinks at the bar to laid-back lunches and delicious celebration dinners. It easily accommodates 80 guests for drinks and buffets, or 60 if a sit-down occasion is called for. It’s just a short ride from Grand Central Station, the Barclaycard Arena and Symphony Hall, in the heart of leafy Edgbaston.  Tel: 0121 270 7090 or email:


The High Field Studio is at 21 Highfield Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 3DP, with the award-winning High Field gastropub highfieldedgbaston and The High Field Town House boutique hotel, highfieldtownhouse, right next door.

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