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Top Autumn Picks

Some exciting cultural and culinary autumnal highlights you may wish to bookmark in your social diary pretty sharp-ish...

Top comedy, music, days out and theatre to look forward to as the season changes…

Coriolanus, RST & Swan Theatre, Stratford, previewing from Fri Sept 15-Oct 14

Photo: RSC

Playing the title role in Coriolanus, the final production of the RSC’s Rome series directed by Angus Jackson is Sope Dirisu, who most recently performed as Cassisus Clay in One Night in Miami (Donmar Warehouse) and ITV’s The Halcyon. He is joined by Haydn Gwynne who returns to the RSC after 11 years to play his mother, Volumnia. Haydn can currently be seen as Camilla in series 2 of Channel 4’s The Windsors.

Warwick Words History Festival, Oct 2-8 

Sold out: Dr Janina Ramirez

Already Alison Weir’s Queen of the Contest and Dr Janina Ramirez’s History of Christianity in 100 Objects are sold out! Other acclaimed authors and guest speakers at this celebration of historical writing, fact and fiction, include Dan Jones, Charles Spencer, A N Wilson, Alexander McCall Smith, Peter Snow, Juliet Barker, Marcus Berkmann, Sarah Dunant, Lindsey Davis and Peter Stanford plus many more.

 Dido, Queen of Carthage, Swan Theatre, Stratford, Previewing from Fri Sept 15-Oct 28

Photo: RSC

Dido, Queen of Carthage is Christopher Marlowe’s dark untold story of one of history’s greatest female leaders. Directed by Kimberley Sykes it stars Chipo Chung as Dido, most recently Portia/Octaviusin Robert Hastie’s production of Julius Caesar at  the Sheffield Crucible. Her TV credits include Thirteen (BBC), From Darkness (BBC) and Fortitude (Sky Atlantic).

Seurat to Riley: The Art of Perception, Compton Verney until Sun Oct 1

Don’t miss this excellent critically-acclaimed summer exhibition including the leading figures of 1960’s Op Art – Bridget RileyJesus Rafael Soto, and Victor Vasarely  -installations, and a stunning site-specific wall painting by German abstract artist Lothar Götz. “This show fizzes with the zinging colours and eye-popping patterns of Op Art, from the Impressionists to the mind-bending Sixties experiments of Bridget Riley … a trippy, wild ride” – The Daily Telegraph. Daily tours at 12noon & 2.30pm.

Tue – Sun & bank holidays until Sun Oct 1 2017, 11am –

Stratford Town Centre Food Festival, Sat Sept 23 & Sun Sept 24

Mike Robinson, co-owner of London’s only Michelin-starred pub The Harwood Arms, multi award-winning pub the Pot Kiln in Berkshire and Robinson Wild Foods, specialist venison supplier to 15 top London restaurants, is heading a packed programme of demos at this popular street festival, sponsored by Loxleys.  Mike is now also executive chef at The Woodsman restaurant at the newly-revamped Falcon Hotel in Stratford. Also taking the stage is Paul Foster, chef owner of Salt in Stratford, former Great British Menu contestant and a regular on Saturday Kitchen. On Saturday learn how to make bread with Bread for Life! Founder Jessica Mooney, recently-opened Italian Wine Cafe Veeno will stage a food and wine pairing workshop, plus there’s cocktail-making classes with the Union Bar Team. On Sunday, demos includes fudge-making with Roly’s Fudge, gelato-making with Hooray’s, Asian antics with Stratford College and how to work with lobsters by Matthew Hiscoe, area head chef from The Townhouse.

Shakespeare Film Festival 2017, Great Garden, New Place, Stratford, Sept 21-23

Film Workshop – Culture Coventry

This September you can look forward to outdoor screenings, film-making and animation workshops celebrating Shakespeare’s influence in film launching with a screening of Omkara – a Bollywood version of Othello (with English subtitles) followed by Disney’s The Lion King,  heavily influenced by Hamlet. Organised by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the Shakespeare Film Festival first launched in 2013 with Sir Kenneth Branagh as its patron inviting film-makers to enter a short film competition. This year’s competition attracted 235 entries from 41 countries, the theme Crossing Borders. The films made by 3 finalists will be shown in a special outdoor screening at 7pm on Sept 23 where the winner, judged by Sir Kenneth, will be announced.

Tickets for outdoor screenings: Adult £8, Child £5; Animation Workshop: £20, Film Making Workshop: £20,

NT’s Jane Eyre, Birmingham Rep, Mon Sept 4-Sat Sept 16

The National Theatre’s striking and inventive new adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece, Jane Eyre, directed by Sally Cookson comes to the Midlands, as part of a major 21 city tour of the UK. Buck/Oxon editor Hero caught the play at at Aylesbury Waterside, you can check out her  review here; while Muddy Sussex ed Debbie saw it at Brighton’s Theatre Royal this summer and here is her review. Both were wowed!

Birmingham Weekender, Fri Sept 22-Sun Sept 24

The return of Birmingham’s biggest free arts festival with fireworks. There’ll be 3 days of dancing in Victoria Square, Barbara Nice’s Alternative Office Party, Don Letts, a Caribbean Carnival Extravaganza, David Rodigan, Rangeeli – Colours of Birmingham Parade –  and spectacular outdoor dance, theatre, drumming and circus including pop-up performances of The Nutcracker by Birmingham Royal Ballet in the Bullring  – with falling snowflakes (Sat Sept 23 1pm, 2.15pm & 3pm)! Plus Drag Queen Story Time at the Library of Birmingham for kids.

RSC Jumble Sale, RSC Rehearsal Rooms, (Corner of Arden Street and Birmingham Road), Stratford, CV37 6NT,  Sat Sept 23

David Tennant in the RSC’s Hamlet, 2008. Photo: Ellie- Kurttz, RSC

Fancy a rummage through boxes of theatrical costumes worn at the RSC over the past 20 years?  Alistair McArthurRSC Head of Costume, said: “At one of our previous sales someone found a pair of slippers worn by David Tennant when he played Hamlet here. Most pieces are labelled with the name of the actor who originally wore them, so who knows what little gems people might pick up?” More than 10,000 items including period costumes, uniforms, doublets, shoes, hats and accessories, plus uniform coats worn in 2008’s Hamlet starring David Tennant, will be available to buy from £1.

The RSC has the largest in-house costume-making department of any British theatre, employing 30 award-winning craftspeople. Funds will go towards restoring the Costume Workshop on Waterside£3 per person (cash only). No booking required, just turn up and queue, 9am – 5pm.

La La Land Live in Concert, Symphony Hall, Birmingham, Sun Sept 24

Part of Birmingham Weekender, La La Land will be brought to audiences like never before, the ultimate immersive experience via a huge screen accompanied by a 60-piece orchestra. Winner of 6 academy awards including Best original score, best original song & best director. The score for La La Land, composed by Justin Hurwitz who also scored director Damien Chazelle’s previous feature films Guy and Madeleineon a Park Bench, and Whiplash, has also received critical acclaim, particularly for the film’s show-stopping songs City of Stars and Audition (The Fools Who Dream), 2.30pm

Limited availability:

Faithful Ruslan – The Story of a Guard Dog, B2, Belgrade Theatre, until Sat Sept 16

Theatre director Helena Kaut-Howson

A master director of European drama Helena Kaut-Howson directs an ensemble of 13 actors in her her third production at The Belgrade, based on the cult novel by Georgi Vladimov and marking the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. Telling its story through the eyes of an innocent dog this new stage adaptation is like a modern Animal Farm – an engrossing allegory for the disorientation of post-revolution Russia. Complicite co-founder Marcello Magni is Movement Director. It stars Isabelle Joss, who was in Icelandic thriller, Pale Star.


NEW monthly Monday Stand-up comedy nights, B2, The Belgrade Theatre Coventry, starts Mon Sept 11

Desi Central host: Mickey Sharma

An eclectic line up and some the best acts on the British Asian comedy scene, kicking off this Sept, with Desi Central’s hit show The Indians Are Coming as part of a 5-city UK tour and hosted by the award-winning Birmingham based comedian Mickey Sharma. He is joined on stage by a stellar line-up including Inder Manocha, Hyde Panaser and Sukh Kaur Ojla.

Leamington Spa Comedy  Festival 2017, Royal Spa Centre, Sun Oct 8-Sat Oct 14

Already Henning Wehn: Westphalia Is Not an Option is selling fast on the main stage on Sun Oct 8, alternatively  on the same date see a line-up of brilliant women, including Sarah Millican In Conversation with Standard Issue Magazine in the Studio. Other highlights: Rob Rouse (Tue Oct 10); The Horne Section (Wed Oct 11), Comedy Club 4 Kids for ages 6+ ( Sat Oct 14). Expect more comedy fun with new festivcal venue partners – the Apehangers Club in Procaffeinate. Festival compering fave Cerys Nelmes returns joined by rising comedy star Darren Harriott and Tony Cowards on Oct 12. Further acts throughout the festival will include Jimeoin, Patrick Monahan and Ed Byrne concluding with a big finale on Sat Oct 14 headlined by actor/comedian Alan Davies.;

Suzanne Vega, Symphony Hall, Birmingham, Tue Sept 26

Incredibly 2017 marks the 30th anniversary of Suzanne Vega’s stunning Solitude Standing, and is also the 25th anniversary of her album 99.9F. To celebrate these anniversaries, Suzanne will be performing both of these significant albums in their entirety. Widely regarded as one of the most brilliant songwriters of her generation, Suzanne emerged as a leading figure of the folk-music revival of the early 1980s in Greenwich Village. She’s since sold over 7 million albums and has been nominated for 7 Grammy awards.

Rob Brydon, Symphony Hall, Birmingham, Thurs Sept 28

Rob Brydon is best known for the television shows Gavin and StaceyWould I Lie To You? and The Trip, as well as Marion and GeoffHuman RemainsLittle BritainThe Rob Brydon ShowBest of Men,Gangster Granny and Q.I. His film work includes The Huntsman: Winter’s WarCinderella and LockStock and Two Smoking Barrels. Earlier this year in London’s West End he starred opposite Sir Kenneth Branagh in The Painkiller. This is Rob’s first stand up tour since his sell out national tour and West End run of 2009.

Loyle Carner, O2 Institute, Birmingham, Tue Oct 3

Following the release of his critically-acclaimed debut album, Yesterday’s Gone and a sold-out UK/EU tour, Loyle Carner is set to play a headline show at O2 Institute Birmingham. His was my favourite set at Glastonbury earlier this summer, especially when he carried his mum on stage. He’s been shortlisted for the 2017 Mercury prize with his  “idiosyncratic, melancholy and very British take on hip-hop”. Great album review here, Keeping my fingers-crossed!

Simon Amstell, Butterworth Hall, Warwick Arts Centre, Sat Oct 7 

I have a feeling this is going to sell out pretty quickly. Following a series of critically acclaimed, sold out international tours, sharp-witted Simon Amstell (CarnageGrandma’s HouseNever Mind the Buzzcocks begins his fifth stand up tour in the UK. ‘What Is This?’ promises to be a deeply personal, funny exploration of beauty, intimacy, freedom, sex and love.

Little Mix, The Genting Arena, Birmingham, Fri Oct 13

The girls are back in Brum with their brand new Glory Days Tour. The only group to ever win the X Factor back in 2011, Perrie, Jesy, Leigh-Anne and Jade just keep going from strength to strength.

Michael Kiwanuka, Symphony Hall, Birmingham, Mon Oct 16

Was pretty excited when I saw Michael Kiwanuka was to be opening his new national tour at Symphony Hall this October. The show will feature his critically acclaimed, number one selling, Mercury Prize and BRIT Awards nominated second album Love & Hate in all its glory. If you watched Pretty Little Liars on Sky Atlantic earlier this year, wasn’t the choice of his haunting Cold Heart as the title track a great choice.

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