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Things to book: this summer

Coventry's year of UK City of Culture has begun! Here’s our list of awesome arts, music and culture events in the region to pencil in the diary this summer, including BRIT Awards winner Arlo Parks.

CITY OF CULTURE, COVENTRY

Book now for The Turner Prize and other Coventry’s City of Culture events

The Herbert. Photo by Garry Jones Photography

The first tickets have gone on sale for events taking place this year. They include The Turner Prize at The Herbert, Oct 1 – Jan 10, Observations of Being, an eco-art installation at the newly generated Charterhouse Heritage Park, June 22-Aug 15, The Herbert’s 2 Tone: Lives & Legacies exhibition (free) and Faith, a 24-hour epic theatre/music/art production informed by the diverse faith communities of Coventry and co-produced by the RSC. To see all the events you can book go here.

Terry Hall

Coventry Moves, the city-wide official opening day directed by the Belgrade’s Justine Themen is designed to be enjoyed at home online, on the radio on Sat June 5. This day-long celebration will tell the story of Coventry’s pioneering identity and how it continues to shape its future and give voice to the many people that call the city their home. Other major highlights will be a global sound systems competition celebrating Coventry’s cultural link to its twin city of Kingston, Jamaica, the announcement of the International Booker prize winner, Terry Hall of The Specials presenting three days of music session in July, Coventry-born rapper Jay1 heading up an August festival and the third Coventry biennial in Oct.

Like There’s No Tomorrow, The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, view online from Wed May 19 – Sat June 13

The Belgrade is kicking off their City of Culture programme with a youth climate change play commissioned by NT Connections. Co-created by their Young Company together with Justine Themen, one of the Belgrade’s three Co-Artistic Directors in 2020, you can watch the digital performance by the Belgrade Youth Theatre from Wed May 19. It’s also being performed across the country by 20 different youth groups Plymouth to Falkirk both live and digitally.

Tickets are free but donations to the Belgrade are gratefully welcomed. 10% of all proceeds will be donated to the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. Book online at belgrade.co.uk

FILM

UK Asian Film Festival, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Thurs May 27 – Sat May 29

Toofan Mail

Now in its 23rd year the line-up of the world’s longest running South Asian film festival outside India this year sees the premiere of Toofan Mail (Thurs May 27) based on a true story from the 1970s, new documentary The Beatles and India (Sat May 29), Oscar nominated Zindagi Tamasha (Fri May 28) and two new Indian films Khape and Fire of Teak, Flame of Chinar.

The festival will also run at venues in London and Leicester, with the opening and closing ceremonies taking place at the BFI Southbank.

Pop-up open-air cinema, Summer Screens 2021, various venues between June 3 – Aug 20

Outdoor cinema pioneers Summer Screens will return to Warwickshire and the West Midlands for their tenth year this summer. Movie lovers can choose from a stellar line-up of films at fantastic locations including Rugby School (June 3-5). Coventry Cathedral Ruins (Aug 11-14) and Birmingham Botanical Gardens (Aug 17-20). Anyone who’s been missing the big screen will be in for a treat. Summer Screens are revisiting many of their most popular films of the past decade and the all-star line up includes Jurassic Park, Top Gun, La La Land, and Bohemian Rhapsody, alongside classics such as, Dirty Dancing andThe Greatest Showman. And In July they’ll be screening the biggest new feel-good film of the summer In The Heights – from the creators of hit musical Hamilton and the director of Crazy Rich Asians.

Luna Open-Air Cinema, Ragley Hall, Warwick Castle and Wollaton HallAug- Sept

The ever-popular Luna Cinema is back. Expect giant HD LED screens, state-of-the-art digital in-car speakers and stunning backdrops. We love the sound of the Luna Bar where you can order there’s prosecco on tap! Oh and we almost forgot to mention the films: Star War, Grease, Top Gun and more. Bring your own picnic, chairs and blankets.

The Big Summer Drive In, Market Harborough, June 8-30

The new purpose built drive-in venue in Market Harbs is where you can watch heaps of great films including Grease, Aladdin, Shawshank Redemption, Inception, Beauty and the Beast, Tenet and so many more. There’s also Kibworth Outdoor Cinema 5 June. Food and drink can also be ordered and VIP tickets guarantee you a spot closer to the screen.

THEATRE

The RSC’s Summer 2021 programme, & new Garden Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, from June 1

Share the excitement of watching actors grapple with the text and put the play on its feet, working out how (under Covid protocols) to choreograph fights or negotiate intimate scenes in Henry VI Part One; Open Rehearsal Project, (Tues 1 June–Fri June 25)

Gregory-Doran in rehearsal for Troilus and Cressida, 2018. Photo by Helen Maybanks (c) RSC

For the first time in the RSC’s history, you’re invited inside the full rehearsal process for a Shakespeare play, culminating in a final live online rehearsal room broadcast online on Wed June 23 at 7pm. This exciting project sees RSC Artistic director Gregory Doran and Owen Horsley re-unite to reinvent the Henry VI plays afresh.

Visualisation of the Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre, 2021. Designed by Andy Williams (c) RSC

The first outdoor production of the season in the brand new Garden Theatre will be The Comedy of Errors, (Tues July 13– Sun Sept 26). Shakespeare’s fairy-tale farce of everyday miracles, mistaken identity and double vision, is directed by comedy master Phillip Breen (The Provoked Wife 2019The Hypocrite 2017)Join the company for a joyous moment of reunion, celebration and laughter in the open air on the banks of the Avon.

Phillip Breen in rehearsal for The Comedy of Errors, 2020. Photo by Pete Le May (c) RSC

Mademoiselle F, Shop Front Theatre, Coventry, June 9-12

A new play by Coventry playwright Vanessa Oakes exploring the links between mental health (OCD), isolation and the environment will be the first live performance event at Coventry’s Shop Front Theatre this summer after 15 months of lockdown. It’s directed by by Mark Evans, Professor of Theatre Training at Coventry University. Tickets are £10 (£8 concessions). For ages 12+ Book here.

Judy & Liza – 10th Anniversary Tour, The Albany Theatre, Coventry, Sat June 12

Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli are back! This socially-distanced production, now in its 10th year, tells the turbulent tale of two of Hollywood’s biggest stars against the backdrop of their infamous 1964 London Palladium concert. West End stars Emma Dears and Helen Sheals belt out their most famous hits with uncanny resemblance. 7:30pm start. Tickets: £23. For ages 12+

NDFA National Drama Festival 2021, The Albany Theatre, Coventry, Sun July 18 – Sat July 24

Photo by Anthony Quinn

The best of UK amateur theatre compete in the National Drama Festival Associations’ British All-Winners Finals, plus a programme of daytime events including workshops with top theatre professionals and a Les Mis masterclass with Coventry’s West End star Dave Willetts. It culminates in a day-long UK Drama Festivals Conference debating diversity and inclusivity in theatre.

THEATRE: The RSC’s Next Generation Act: All Mirth and No Matter, Garden Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, Fri July 23

You’re invited to join the Next Generation Act company celebrate the wedding of the year! This performance is a response to Much Ado About Nothing by the RSC Next Generation Act young company, made up of 24 talented young people aged 13-18 from Associate Schools across the country. There’ll be two in-person performances at 10.30am & 2.30pm. £5 (Under 16s, free).

Roundabout, various locations in Coventry, Mon July 26 – Sun Aug 8

The Belgrade and London-based touring theatre company Paines Plough will co-present a festival of new plays and community-led activities in their pop-up Roundabout theatre – a tourable in-the-round, 168-seater auditorium. Balisha Karra, one of the Belgrade’s three Co-Artistic Directors, will direct Coventry based playwright Frankie Meredith’s May Queen, alongside three more outstanding plays by some of the UK’s finest writers Hungry by Chris Bush, Really Big and Really Loud by Phoebe Eclair-Powell and Black Love by Chinonyerem Odimba.

Pulp Friction, The Albany Theatre, Coventry, Sat Sept 11

Fancy a five dollar shake drinking, royale with cheese of a night? Experience a cocktail of singing, dancing & theatrical performance by ‘the world’s best Quentin Tarantino live tribute band’ using a soundtrack from the US director’s legendary films. 18+

ART

Mary Newcomb: Nature’s Canvas (May 18-Sept 5) & Rebecca Louise Law: Seasons, (May 18-Aug 30), Compton Verney

Rebecca Louise Law: Nature Morte 2018 Nivaagaards Malerisamling. Photo by Anders Sune-Berg

Nature’s Canvas features more than 50 work by natural scientist, farmer and artist Mary Newcomb, displayed alongside extracts from her writing and work by the artists that inspired her. Literally filling Compton Verney’s largest gallery space, Seasons is a stunning site-specific installation. Composed of thousands of preserved seasonal foliage and flowers collected by the artist from 2019-2021 and suspended on copper wires.

The Self-Portrait Prize 2021 & Concrete Collar, Coventry Cathedral, from Mon May 17

The Self-Portrait Prize 2021:Coventry Cathedral

The Self-Portrait Prize 2021 from the Ruth Borchard Collection – the only art competition of its kind to focus exclusively on self-portraiture – will run until July 11, alongside photographer Tom Illsey’s exhibition exploring ‘the beauty and complexity of Coventry’s ring-road’ until June 30. The cathedral also opens its doors to visitor introducing a free Exhibition and Entry ticketing system for guaranteed access to the New Cathedral, current exhibitions, regular services and other daily activities.  To browse the Arts & Events programme click here.

ART: UnNatural History, The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry, May 28-Aug 22

Raqs Media Collective’s However Incongruous 2011. Photo by JontyWilde

One of the first exhibitions for Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 in The Herbert’s newly refurbished contemporary galleries features more than 20 works by international naturalists and artists exploring natural history and climate change. It includes Raqs Media Collective’s life-sized rhino sculpture However Incongruous, a contemporary reinterpretation of Albrecht Dürer’s Rhinoceros from 1515 reimagined as an out-of-place carousel animal.

Art Night comes to Compton Verney, June 18-July 18

The Guerrilla Girls

Art Night celebrates its fifth edition by taking place across the UK for the first time this summer, including Compton Verney. A billboard at the Warwickshire gallery by New York feminist activist artists the Guerrilla Girls, who wear gorilla masks in public and spent 35 years exposing sexism and ethnic bias in the art world, will form part of their biggest UK commission to date, The Male Gaze. It explores ‘the devouring or ‘nibbling over’ women in art history’, and also includes a website and online gig.

Summer Art Weeks, Warwickshire Open Studios, June 19-July 4

Celebrating their 21st birthday year, 320 artists will be exhibiting their work at 117 venues across Coventry and Warwickshire from canal boats to churches, the oldest tennis club in the world to farms and barns, as well as the usual gardens, studios and homes.

Art in Dunchurch, Inglenook, Coventry Road, Dunchurch, June 19, 20, 23, 26 27, 30 and July 3

Eighteen artists will be demonstrating and selling their work in the picturesque, historic village of Dunchurch in one of the biggest shows as part of Warwickshire Open Studios’ Summer Art Weeks. These talented, local amateur and professional artists include print makers, weavers, painters, sculptors’ potters and wood turners. Their work will be displayed in the tranquil walled gardens of Inglenook – a 16th century cottage – in the village’s conservation area. Chat to the artists and enjoy refreshments in the garden. For all ages, 10.30am–4.30pm.

Grinling Gibbons 300: Centuries in the Making, Compton Verney, Warwickshire, Aug 3-27

Compton Verney exterior

Celebrating 300 years of the master carver, this exhibition will inspire new generations with his vision, skills and technique in transforming wood and stone.

FAMILY

Lunar Festival’s Pink Moon Camping Retreat, Umberslade Farm Park, May 28-June 21

The Yoga Den

After a roaring success in 2020, Warwickshire’s Lunar Festival in the village of Tanworth-in-Avon is running their Pink Moon Camping Retreat this Summer for four weekends of ‘socially distanced relaxation’ including yoga, meditation, acoustic music, street food and campfire catch ups in a beautiful rural setting. It offers the perfect ‘staycation’ alternative. Pitches and glamping options available.

Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum, reopens from Sat May 29

Photo by Andy-Stammers

Tickets are now on sale for the award-winning museum which reopens just in time for the half-term holiday. A brand new gallery, Our Changing Planet, investigates how pollution, habitat destruction, species extinction and climate change are radically altering landscapes and lives all over the world. Other highlights include steam engines, interactive displays, Planetarium shows and the child-sized world of MiniBrum, plus a new shop and new entrance.

Open every day in half term 10am–5pm until Sun June 7 June , when it will open Wed – Sun, 10am- 5pm. birminghammuseums.org.uk/thinktank

KIDS: Free family activities on the Bancroft Terrace, RSC, Stratford, Tues July 27 – Fri Aug 20

This summer holidays the RSC will be running a series of free pop-up performances, interactive workshops and outdoor performances for families running for four weeks. Kids can brush up on their stand-up with interactive comedy and clowning sessions (Tuesdays), twice-daily pop-up performances and a free making workshop (Wednesdays),enjoy free musical performances and free making-workshops led by RSC Costume Practitioners (Thursdays). Bringing the week to a close on Friday mornings, families can join RSC workshop leaders for a weekly Community Warm Up in the Garden Theatre (open to all ages, £5 per ticket).

A Costume Day will also take place on Fri Aug 20 with free pop-up performances, workshops and family-friendly activities across town (to be confirmed).

Joe Zalias and his Horrible Stunts for Kids, The Albany Theatre, Coventry, Tues Aug 24

An interactive kids’ comedy show featuring stunts, magic, and jokes. How dangerous are the stunts? You decide. After more than a decade on the UK comedy circuit, Joe Zalias decided to branch out into family-friendly shows – think Jackass for kids. 2pm.Tickets: £6 – £10 For all ages

MUSIC

Arlo Parks, Coventry Empire, Aug 5

Tickets to see 20-year-old singer Arlo Parks are flying off the shelves following her win at the BRIT Awards. Parks took home the award for Breakthrough Act and the gig has just a few tickets remaining. Her show will feature tracks from new album Collapsed in Sunbeams, which reached number three on the Official Album Chart. Unsurprisingly sales of this near-perfect observational debut have soared by 200% following the awards!

Fans still hoping to bag tickets to the show can purchase standalone tickets, a special CD bundle or Vinyl LP bundle on the hmv website.

New York Counterpoint, Orchestra of the Swan, Stratford Play House, Stratford-upon-Avon, May 20

Orchestra of the Swan

This is the Stratford-based chamber orchestra’s first live indoor performance after a series of digital concerts in lockdown. A portrait of the city that never sleeps seen through the eyes of composers George Gershwin, Steve Reich and Lou Reed among others, it features talented Viv McLean on piano, at 6pm & 6.30pm. See what else is on this summer here or watch a free digital performance of their latest album Timelapse here.

Bigfoot Festival, Ragley Hall, Alcester, June 18-20

Big on music, drinks and food? Welcome to the world’s first craft beer music festival! Primal Scream, Fat White Family, Hot Chip and Trojan Sound System are headlining, plus lots of local Warwickshire/West Midlands indy, artisan food and drink producers as well as top chefs and breweries will be serving up a varied and affordable menu including The Farm, Snitterfield, Birmingham’s Original Patty Men and Church Farm Brewery, Warwick.

ALSO Festival, Park Farm, Compton Verney, July 2-4

The UK’s leading ideas festival, set in the beautiful Warwickshire countryside is back in 2021 for its eighth year. The fantastic line-up features 70 carefully-curated events including talks from world-renowned thinkers, topical debates, creative masterclasses, sunset swims, exercise, brilliant DJs, a Balearic Brunch and comedy – all in ALSO’s famous lakeside setting. Tickets are now on sale.

Martin Kemp’s Back to the 80s party, Leamington Spa Assembly Rooms, Fri Aug 6

Ready to party? The former Spandau Ballet musician, actor, producer and DJ is something of an expert when it comes to 80s pop. He’ll will be taking to the decks, spinning all the best of the hits from the decade. Eighties fashion for the night is an absolute must, dig out those leg warmers, shoulder pads or Madonna’s downtown New York heavily cropped thrift shop style in Desperately Seeking Susan.

Blossoms, O2 Academy, Birmingham, Sept 4

Nice touch, standing in front of a blossom tree. This successful indie five-piece from Stockport have been flourishing since their debit album picked up a Mercury Prize nomination in 2016. They’ll be extensively touring the UK with new album, Foolish Loving Spaces in 2021. This gig has already been rescheduled three times since March last year. If you’ve already got tickets, they’ll still be valid.

Margaret Glaspy, Hare & Hounds, Birmingham, Tue Sept 7, touring to 16 September

Margaret Glaspy by Josh-Goleman

Brooklyn songwriter Glaspy was another artist who couldn’t tour with her excellent synth-driven second album Devotion in 2020, now she’s able to bring it to life. Ticket Price: £13.

Chubby and the Gang, Coventry Library, Nov 6

Fast rising London punk five-piece Chubby and the Gang have announced a mammoth 40 date tour of the UK & EIRE, including Coventry plus shared a new song and accompanying music video for: Lightning Don’t Strike Twice. As premiered by Steve Lamacq on BBC 6Music, the track is part of a double A-side 7″ out on May 28  The video was directed by Jasper Cable-Alexander, and takes inspiration from ’90s internet cafés. Watch the vid here: https://youtu.be/3pskmu0GsOA

Scouting for Girls, Empire, Coventry, Nov 18

Friends since they were five, the trio (Roy Stride, Pete Ellard, and Greg Churchouse) are back on tour with new album of 80s covers – Easy Cover – including some of their favourite songs by Tears For Fears, The Waterboys, Cyndi Lauper, Whitney Houston, Phil Collins and more. Bucking the trend, SFG’s 2019 tour was their biggest yet, and a stellar 2020 had been lined up before the pandemic hit…

DANCE

The Language of Kindness, Warwick Arts Centre, Thurs May, Thurs May 20 – Sat May 22

Rehearsal. Photo by Sarah Ainslie

A new socially distanced ensemble-style piece of dance celebrating nurses and frontline healthcare workers. Based on Christie Watson’s bestselling memoir recalling her 20 years as a nurse, it brings to life the realities, the challenges, heartbreaks and joys of working for the NHS. There’s also a working rehearsal of the production on May 19, free to NHS staff, frontline health workers, university and secondary school students (email requests to ticketing@warwick.ac.uk). The Costa Award-winning writer will be chatting to author and doctor Sam Guglani about her days as a nurse, the NHS, and her literary career in a post-show talk on May 20.

Birmingham Royal Ballet: Curated by Carlos, Birmingham Rep, June 10-12

A triple bill curated by Carlos Acosta with two world premieres: Imminent, by Brazilian/British choreographer Daniela Cardim’s about a change for the better; Miguel Altunaga’s City of a Thousand Trades, celebrating Birmingham’s industrial heritage and the UK premiere of Chacona, a thrilling physical piece’ created by Spanish choreographer Goyo Montero, resident choreographer of Carlos Acosta’s own Acosta Danza. 

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Cinderella, Birmingham Rep, June 18-26

Tickets are now on sale for Sir David Bintley’s enchanting fairytale with awe-inspiring scenery and costumes by John Macfarlane, the designer of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s famous Nutcracker, and Prokofiev’s beautiful music, played live by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia. It will then move on to Theatre Royal Plymouth.

Romeo + Juliet, Birmingham Hippodrome, Wed Sept 8
Rosie Kay transports Shakespeare’s teen romance to contemporary Birmingham, exploring gang allegiances and love across racial divides on a series of hot summer nights in a 75-minute performance. It will be performed by nine dancer-choreographers skilled in contemporary, street and Indian classical dance styles. Tickets from £15.

Ian & Vincent – The Ballroom Boys: Act Two, Albany Theatre, Coventry Sun Sept 26

Following their five-star rated 2019 tour, The Ballroom Boys double act Ian Waite and Vincent Simone return to the city with a brand-new show. The fabulous Strictly duo promise another evening of old-fashioned variety – dance, comedy and song.

COMEDY

Funny Festival Live! RSC’s The Bear Pit Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, Wed June 23-Sun June 27

A brand-new four-day live comedy festival where you’ll be able to check out some of the best up and coming talent in-person alongside some big names from 2020’s Funny Women Stage Award runner-up Eryn Tett, to Toussaint Douglass who recently featured on BBC2’s stand-up show, and TV favourites such as Mock The Week’s Mark Simmons, 2018 Funny Women winner Thanyia Moore, Marcel Lucont, Jarred Christmas (Comedy Central at The Comedy Store) and Hal Cruttenden. Rounding off the week is Andrew Lawrence (Live at the Apollo) with his sell-out Pale, Male & Stale show. Tickets here.

Laugh It Up, The Benn Hall, Rugby, July 1

A night of stand-up headlined by Ed Gamble and guests Friz Frizzle., Paul Tonkinson & MC – Lou Conran. Tickets £18.50 available from enterlude.co.uk or ticketsource.co.uk/enterlude 

Read our Muddy 2021 festival guide here and check out what’s on in London this summer here.

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