Unmissable culture to book in 2020
Here are some of the hottest tickets for Coventry and Warwickshire in 2020 - see you there!
Warwickshire and Coventry is a culture-vulture paradise. A new season of shows for this summer and winter 2020 and have just been announced over the last week. They include loads of cool stuff. Ready with your red marker? Then let’s get planning…
The Winter’s Tale: Mad Men meets The Handmaid’s Tale, RST, Sat Mar 28-Fri Oct 2
- Casting has just been announced for Erica Wyman’s 1950s revival of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale at Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon – expect some serious vintage style and interiors inspiration. It will star Joseph Kloska as Leones, McMafia star Kemi-Bo Jacobs making her RSC debut playing Hermione, Call The Midwife’s Ben Caplan as Camillo and A Very English Scandal’s Andrew French – the priest in Wyman’s Romeo and Juliet – as Polixenes. Set across a 16-year span from Mad Men to the moon landings, this new production imagines a world where the ghosts of fascist Europe collide with horrors of The Handmaid’s Tale, before washing up on a joyful seashore. It will be cross-cast with The Comedy of Errors (from 25 April 2020) and Pericles (from 15 August 2020) and further cast includes two Deaf actors, William Grint and Bea Webster.
Spring/Summer season highlights @Warwick Arts Centre
This lot will bring a spring to your step!
- Green Carnation Company’s revival of Kevin Elyot’s award-winning ’80s set dark comedy My Night With Reg (12-14 March 2020); prize-winning playwright Maya Arad Yasur’s strikingly original Amsterdam (27-29 April), and direct from the West End, Judith Kerr’s much-loved The Tiger Who Came To Tea (9-12 Apr), adapted by David Wood for ages 3+.
- Two classic tales are reimagined as Rhum And Clay revise both HG Wells’ original sci-fi novel and Orson Welles’ classic radio play The War Of The Worlds (26-29 May) for an era of fake news and alternative facts and Le Navet Bete turn their attention to The Three Musketeers (4-6 June) for ‘a comedy adventure’ filled with hilarious heroics and raucous romance.
- Tapping into environmental concerns, Pleasant Island (22-23 April) finds Flemish duo Silke Huysmans and Hannes Dereere investigating the fate of the small Pacific island state of Nauru, a once rich isle now one of the poorest, having been completely stripped of all its natural resources.
- Motionhouse’s Wild (2 May) sees the internationally respected Leamington Spa company install a forest of tall poles to explore the increasing disconnect between urban and natural environments, while BalletBoyz celebrate their 20th anniversary with Deluxe (13 May), combining the work of some of the world’s leading choreographers and composers.
- Larger than life actor turned adventurer Brian Blessed (24 April) recounts anecdotes for An Evening With …, while Strictly star Craig Revel Horwood traces his life from Australia to the West End and TV for All Balls And Glitter (23 May) and promises some revealing backstage gossip. Fab-u-lous, darling!
- The Omsk-based Siberian Symphony Orchestra (22 Apr) lead a stirring classical programme with a concert of Russian greats and featuring pianist Freddy Kempf. But if it’s dancing you want, Funk! – A Music Revolution (2 Mar) unites one of the architects of the genre, James Brown saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis, with a group of crack musicians, including vocalists China Moses and Omar.
- Michigan-born, now Reykjavik-based, singer-songwriter John Grant (10 May) presents rare stripped down versions from his growing catalogue, including tracks from recent LP Love Is Magic and his solo debut, the now decade old Queen Of Denmark, while Frazey Ford (2 June), a founding member of Canadian alt-folk band The Be Good Tanyas, returns with new album, U Kin B The Sun – her first original music in five years.
- Joining the previously mentioned Tiger Who Came Tea, a wide-ranging programme for families and children includes poet and playwright Inua Ellams’ magical retelling of The Little Prince (27-29 Feb), and BalletLorent’s The Lost Happy Endings (24-25 Apr), which brings Carol Ann Duffy’s story to vivid life, complete with a score by Murray Gold (Doctor Who).
- Leading comedians head to stage, among them freewheeling Newcastle powerhouse Ross Noble (20 May), Alistair McGowan (May 12), Jen Brister (May 17) and look out too for a live take on the comedy podcast phenomenon The Guilty Feminist (22 May), featuring Deborah Frances-White and special guest.
City of Culture 2021 countdown
Two big London shows hit the stage at Belgrade Theatre Coventry this spring:
A Monster Calls, March 3-7
After its successful opening in London’s Old Vic in 2018, Sally Cookson’s Olivier Award-winning production of A Monster Calls this spring visits Coventry on its first ever UK tour. Based on the Carnegie and Greenaway Medal-winning novel (the only book ever to receive both awards), written by Patrick Ness and inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd, this powerful production sees the tale of love and loss brought vividly to life by visionary director Sally Cookson (La Strada, Hetty Feather, Jane Eyre). For ages 10+.
The Story: Thirteen-year-old Conor lives with his mum and together, they’ve managed just fine since his dad moved away. But now his mum is sick and not getting any better. His grandmother won’t stop interfering and the kids at school won’t look him in the eye. Then, one night, Conor is woken by something at his window. A monster has come walking. It’s come to tell Conor tales from when it walked before. And when it’s finished, Conor must tell his own story and face his deepest fears.
Once, March 10-14
- Broadway and in the West End smash hit musical Once heads to Coventry as part of its first ever UK tour starring stars Emma Lucia and Daniel Healy, a successful singer-songwriter who has co-written songs for Ronan Keating. Folk-inflected original songs by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, including the Academy Award-winning Falling Slowly are brought to the stage by a talented ensemble of actor-musicians in this critically acclaimed show, which has scooped up an amazing eight Tony Awards, a Grammy and the 2012 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical.
- The Story: Based on John Carney’s Irish indie film this uplifting and tender love story full of Irish craic.
- BAFTA nominee Gwen Taylor in The Croft (15-18 April), a haunting new play set in a deserted village in the Scottish Highlands, and based on a true story; a UK tour of Stephen Daldry’s acclaimed production of J B Priestley’s An Inspector Calls (28 April-2 May), first performed at the National Theatre in 1992, Lyn Paul in Blood Brothers (17-21 March) and Friendsical (26-30 May), an irreverent but loving tribute to America TV sitcom Friends.
- African Caribbean theatre company Tangle bring a fresh reimagining of Ben Jonson’s Volpone, to the theatre (16-18 April) packed with new and vintage jazz and inspired by Southern African Township Theatre followed by Alan Ayckbourn’s comic masterpiece Absurd Person Singular delves into 1970s social climbing suburbia from 6-9 May, directed by Michael Cabot.
- For families, Birmingham Stage Company will be back at Easter with another David Walliams adaptation, this time Billionaire Boy (22-25 April). Then from 16-18 June, Shakespeare innovators Oddsocks give their unmistakable, brilliantly bonkers treatment to The Comedy of Errors.
belgrade Tel: 024 7655 3055
Stratford Literary Festival 2020: highlights, May 9- 17
Behold an impressive line up…
- Dame Hilary Mantel and impressionist Rory Bremner will headline a stellar line up at the 13th Stratford Literary Festival this spring. The twice Booker Prize winner will be talking about the finale to her astonishing trilogy, The Mirror and Light, which brings to a close the life of Thomas Cromwell; while Rory will be sharing some of the new names in his repertoire, and talking about how he researches his victims’ characteristics.
- Also, on the line-up is leading playwright Michael Frayn, the former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, leading writer Maggie O’Farrell and performance poet Lemn Sissay, who’s guest director of this year’s Brighton Festival. The bestselling crime author Peter James will share his latest thriller, as writers John Niven and former Radio 2 presenter turned writer Simon Mayo consider what makes us love the thrill of the thriller.
- Actor and Radio 4 News Quiz presenter, Miles Jupp, will be taking a break from appearing in A Comedy of Errors to reflect on a brilliant career, and world-renowned Shakespeare scholar James Shapiro will be considering how the Bard is portrayed in the US. BBC broadcasting veteran James Naughtie will consider how the US has changed in the many years he has been reporting on life and politics there, while leading writers Joanna Trollope and Louis de Bernières will delight audiences with their latest books.
- For children the offering is bigger than ever in 2020, with the current Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell headlining and authors and illustrators from Sir Michael Morpurgo to para-olympian Ade Adepitan and Horrible Histories writer and illustrator Martin Brown. Aardman returns after last year’s sell out workshops with the chance to make models from the company’s brilliant films.
Tickets went on sale this week, stratlitfest.co.uk, Tel 0333 666 3366 or visit the Stratford Play House Box Office.
The RSC’s Winter Season 2020
Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Oct 29 2020–Jan 17 2021
This year’s Christmas family show in the RST will be The Magician’s Elephant, a new musical adaptation of Kate DiCamillo’s heart-breaking and darkly magical children’s book adapted by Nancy Harris and Marc Teitler and directed by Sarah Tipple – associate director to Gregory Doran on The Boy in the Dress, Oct 29 2020–Jan 17 2021
The story: Baltese is a town where nothing extraordinary ever happens. Recovering from a recent war, it is a lonely place, where young Peter lives a frugal life. Then one day, a magician conjures an elephant from the sky, whose appearance sets off a chain of events so remarkable, so impossible, that it changes Baltese forever.
Something Wicked: A Halloween Revel, Oct 30 & 31
- Oooooooooo exciting! An exclusive all-night experience featuring a haunted backstage tour, storytelling plus plenty of creepy happenings throughout the night…Will you survive until the witching hour? This haunting, all-night party for adults only, inspired by the ghosts and gore of Macbeth, will start with a ‘pre-party’ in The Other Place with costume making, blood guts and gore, cocktail making, face painting, glitzy dressing room exhibitions of archive materials, music and a screening of the 1976 McKellen and Dench Macbeth. At 11pm guests will be invited to process in their bloody finery down to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre where the party really gets started – a midnight feast: Banquo’s Banquet, immersive performances, an escape room, a witches rave cave, pepper’s ghost hauntings and ghost stories in the tower.
The War of the Roses, The Swan, Oct 10 2020–Jan 22021
- The Wars of the Roses, directed by Owen Horsley with Gregory Doran – an epic event staging Henry VI Parts 1, 2 and 3 in two performances to tell the vivid and enthralling story of the brutal struggle for the English crown.
First Encounters: Twelfth Night, Sept 24-26 2020
- Shakespeare for Everyone. First Encounters with Shakespeare: Twelfth Night, is created specially to give 7-13-year olds a fantastic first experience of Shakespeare. Edited and directed by Robin Belfield.
Warwickshire’s Also Festival first wave line-up, July 3-5
- A weekend of big ideas, nature and delectable food. Also organisers pride themselves on the diversity of their music programming with new bands, sounds and audio adventures on a stage backed by half-mile of lake, fringed with trees. It’s an ideal place for you and your gang, or you and your family to have your restorative, transformative three-day nature fix, mixed with plenty of eating and drinking al-fresco, plus food tasting and demos and many chances to experience something new. See the line-up so far here.
- The line-up: Varied! From high intensity yoga shed to wine & philosophy, Ibiza-based DJ Vinyl Richie to quantum theory for kids and Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter’s The Art of Statistics. Foodie experiences include James Whetlor’s take over feast and a five-course immersive banquet which sees The Supper Natural and The Last Supper join forces.
Must-see art exhibition:
Sonia Boyce: In the Castle of My Skin, Eastside Projects, 86 Heath Mill Lane, Digbeth, Birmingham, until Apr 11
- A solo show of new commissions and existing work by London-based artist Sonia Boyce, who is to become the first black British woman to represent Britain at the prestigious Venice Biennale next year. In an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme she said the offer came as “a real shock, but a real delight as well”. Sonia, Professor of Black Art and Design at University of the Arts London, has built what she described as a “crazy structure” in the gallery to show her wallpapers and the work of seven artists with whom she has collaborated including Anna Barham, Harold Offeh, Flora Parrott and Alberta Whittle. The title comes from an autobiographical novel by writer George Lamming, a study of colonial revolt set in 1930s Barbados, where he was born.
- Anish Kapoor, Henry Moore, Richard Hamilton, Steve McQueen and Tracey Emin are other UK artists who’ve previously been chosen to exhibit in the British Pavilion at Venice. Open Wed – Sat, 12–5pm. Entry to all exhibitions, and many of events, is free, https://eastsideprojects
- Thur March 26, 6-8pm – Join artist Sonia Boyce and Osei Bonsu, Curator of International Art at Tate in conversation exploring the themes in Sonia’s exhibition. £5.£3