FRI SEP 13 - SUN SEP 15
COMEDY: Live@RSC: Comedy Festival, Stratford-Upon-Avon Comedy Festival, Thu 12 Sep-Sat 21 Sep
The end of summer signals the reawakening of the comedy calendar and look no further than Stratford to treat yourself to chortle, when 22 of the top comedians from the Fringe storm Shakepeare’s county. Highlights include Adam Kayt, with an “electrifying” (Guardian) evening of sharing his diaries as a junior doctor, in a stand-up spectacular with music. Other shows feature pillars of the UK comedy scene such as Bridget Christie, Milton Jones, Zoe Lyons, Rory Bremner and Rhys James. There’s also the award-winning phenomenon Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, which has awed audiences in Edinburgh for 11 years. Full line-up, tickets and offers here.
BALLET: Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet, Birmingham Hippodrome, Tues Sep 10 – Sat Sep 14
As the Hippodrome continues its 120th Anniversary, Matthew Bourne’s eagerly anticipated dynamic shake-up of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (Sep 10 – 14) features a cast of young dancers, some still in training, and has a whiff of Grease. He collaborated with 22-year-old choreographer Arielle Smith, who started her training at the Hammond School in Chester and then went on to train at Rambert School. Check out availability here: birminghamhippodrome.com
THEATRE SCREENING: Everyone’s Talking about Jamie, MacCready Theatre, Rugby, Fri 13 Sep
Filmed live at the Apollo, this five-star musical tells a true story of an outcast teen prevailing over the bullies to reach his drag queen goals. Directed by Jonathan Butterell, the show was inspired by a BBC documentary about Jamie, a young lad from working class Sheffield who aspired to get out of school and into stilettos. With punchy upbeat tunes from The Feeling frontman Dan Gillespie Sells, the whole show is guaranteed to get your own heels tapping and your heart swelling.
THEATRE: Laugh it up lite, Inside the 22, Rugby, Fri 13 Sep
A brand new quarterly comedy night begins in the heart of Rugby. Presented by Enterlude partnered with Custard Comedy, the best stand-up stars of the club circuit welcome you to the weekend with light relief and laughter. The first night features headliner Richard Morton, MC Juliet Meyers, Hannah Sylvester and top new kid on the block Matt Rees.
SCIENCE: British Science Festival, Coventry & Warwickshire, University of Warwick, Coventry, Tue 10 Sep-Fri 13 Sep
More than 100 free events, performances and exhibitions to feed your fascination! Robots, driverless cars and phone conversations with the dead are among the mind-blowing events exploring the latest tech; mental health, feminism, gender and other social issues are highlighted and discussed; and the influence of the Youth Climate Rebellion is examined. Biological anthropologist, TV presenter and author Professor Alice Roberts, incoming President of the British Science Association gives the opening talk on Thur Sept 12 (5-6pm). Also on the menu is former Blue Peter presenter, author and illustrator Konnie Huq in conversation (Thurs, 7.30- 8.30pm) and James Brown from Channel 4’s Old People’s Home for Four-Year-Olds, telling the heart warming tale of how spending time with little ones can improve the health and wellbeing of seniors. The festival sees experts and researchers from the University of Warwick and beyond open doors to their captivating, frontier-pushing realms. Check out the unmissable programme.
KIDS: British Science Festival Family Day, Warwick Arts Centre, Sat Sept 14
A fun jam-packed day with a scientific and engineering with discovery, exploration and experiments. Highlights including the Jaguar Land Rover Experience zone for kids aged 9+ with (underage!) driving activities, an education and technology zone. Dozens of stalls, workshops, talks and performances will take over the campus, exploring space, dinosaurs, cities of the future, our planet, ancient worlds and more. Encounter roaming dinos and honey bees, discover Warwick’s exciting research, make something new, embark on a mission to mars with children’s TV presenter Maddie Moate.
MUSIC: Stratford-Upon-Avon Music Festival, Fri 13 Sep-Sat 21 Sep
Championing accessible classical music, the festival, now in its 24th year, provides a soothing yet invigorating antidote to the sounds of modern life with performances featuring a number of BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artists. Stratford’s own Orchestra of the Swan stage a 2-hour playathon of well-known favourites for you to enjoy from artist-designed deckchairs; children’s imaginations are set alight in storytelling sessions; and The Midlands Youth Jazz Orchestra bring the party to a close in Big Band brilliance. Browse the full programme of music, art and words here.
TV: The Legitimate Peaky Blinders Festival, Digbeth, Birmingham, Sat 14 Sep-Sun 15 Sep
A world-first opportunity to immerse yourself in a recreation of the Peaky Blinders world, co-curated by the show’s creator Steven Knight, in the very city where the 1930s gangster series is based. Be privy to a special secret set from Primal Scream, plus Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Anna Calvi, Jaykae, Mike Skinner DJ set and Nadine Shah. Along with the music there’s a Q&A with Steven Knight, actors from the series including Paul Anderson who plays Arthur Shelby and Harry Kirton as his younger brother Finn; Peaky Blinders fashion collections and catwalk shows; a museum featuring props from the set; contemporary dance; and all manner of other roguish revelry.
Seize your tickets here.
HERITAGE: Heritage Open Days: Coventry, Fri 13 Sep-Sun 22 Sep
Discover hidden places, try new experiences and explore the rich heritage on your doorstep. More than 50 venues in Coventry are participating in this year’s Heritage Open Days - England’s largest festival of history and culture – and throwing open their doors to celebrate their heritage, community and history. Check out the websites of Heritage Open Days and Coventry Council to plan your day trips. This year’s festival sees a cracking collection of new additions, including tours of the new Amazon warehouse (find out how those late-night clicks convert into next day treasure!); a high flying aerial display by Coventry’s own critically acclaimed performance company Highly Sprung and Circus pioneers Upswing on the Alison Gingell building at Coventry University; an immersive walking trail with Coventry’s quirky Talking Birds Theatre to investigate the historic neighbourhood of Stoke, invites you to take a trail of the unexpected around another of Coventry’s historic neighbourhoods, Stoke; a behind-the-scenes tour at the Belgrade Theatre; a ride on a miniature railway along the River Sowe with Bridge View Light Railway; and Stoney Road Allotment Gardens, a Grade II* listed site with seven fascinating Victorian and Edwardian Summerhouses.. Events and experiences free; check event pages for timings.
2019 is the 25th year of Heritage Days Out with loads of events, tours and National Trust gems, open to the public across Warwickshire – and the rest of the Muddy counties if you fancy a day trip. Find a full list of what’s on here. Across Warwickshire visit interesting landmarks from stately homes, ancient church to much loved building such as Chesterton Windmill, (Sept 14 & 14), St John’s House, Warwick (Sat Sept 21, 10am-3pm), Upton House and Gardens (Sat Sept 21 & Sun Sept 22) and a guided tour around historic Rugby School (Sat Sept 14 & Sat Sep 21, 2pm -3.30pm), the Royal Shakespeare Company, Baddesley Clinton and Packwood House (both Sept 14, 9-5pm).
Over in Brum, Birmingham Hippodrome will be hosting a packed week of activities to celebrate the theatre’s rich history celebrating 120 years as part of the national Heritage Open Days festival from Sat 14 Sep. Highlights include free mini taster tours, the unveiling of a giant playbill featuring some of the most famous artists who’ve tread the Hippodrome’s boards such as The Beatles and Judy Garland; two new visual art exhibitions, Pre-Windrush to the Present Day (presented with Blackstory Partnership) and If Memory Serves; and two new heritage talks reflecting on key moments of the theatre’s 120 year history.
MUSIC: Live Music at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Wed Sept 11 – Sat Sept 14
As the summer holidays come to a close, the party is just beginning at the Belgrade Theatre, with a live music line-up kicking off the Autumn 2019 Season. On Wed 11 Sep, audiences at The Sound of Springsteen will be the first to experience a live performance in the Belgrade’s newly revamped Main Stage, after a big refurbishment over the summer. Then on Thu 12 Sep, The King is Back as number one Elvis tribute Ben Portsmouth brings his world-famous live show to Coventry. In 2012, Ben made history as the first artist from outside the USA to win the prestigious title of Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist at the Elvis Presley Enterprises contest in Memphis. On Fri 13 Sep, The Edwin Starr Band invite you to join them for a soul and Motown party in Northern Soul Live, packed with non-stop classic hits from War to Higher and Higher to Stand By Me, accompanied by special guest Lorraine Silver – an original Northern Soul artist. Finally, on Sat 14 Sep, get ready to enter the House of Fun with Complete Madness.
Tel the box office on 024 7655 3055, or go to belgrade.co.uk where prices are cheaper. Book for two or more participating shows at the same time to claim 20% off.
HERITAGE: Harvest Saturday, National Trust Packwood House, Sat 14 Sep
Autumn is surely the best time to visit the gorgeous gardens and luscious countryside surrounding Packwood House (see above). This Saturday, the horticulture team open your eyes and taste buds to the bounty they harvest here and there’s the chance to sample the homegrown goodies.
Free to attend, but usual admission charges apply. More info on the website.
AFTER HOURS: Drawing the Birthplace, Shakespeare Centre, Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Sat 14 Sep
Artist Ed Isaacs is back by popular demand for a drawing workshop using Shakespeare’s Birthplace as the subject. Participants are required to bring their own sketchpads/sketchbooks. Tickets Adults £10, 5.30pm-7pm. www.shakespeare.org.uk/whatson
FAMILY: Harvest Home, Mary Arden’s Farm, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Sun 15 Sep
For a more historic take on a food festival, head to Mary Arden’s Farm to celebrate the autumn harvest with the resident Tudors. Puppet shows, face painting, Tudor music and crafts including candle making and willow weaving make for a traditional family day out. Normal admission applies – details here.
THEATRE: Ruby Wax’s How to be Human, Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham, Sun 15 Sep
Delivered in signature honest and vibrant fashion, Wax’s stage version of her How to be Human manual helps ‘upgrade your mind as much as you’ve upgraded your iPhone’. Joined by a neuroscientist (Ash Ranpura) and a monk (Gelong Thubten), the fiery mental health advocate answers all manner of questions about evolution, thoughts, emotions, the body, additions, relationships, sex, kids, the suture and compassion. Punctured with witty anecdotes from Wax’s life, this is essentially a mindfulness guidance course as well as a good laugh.
Showing for one night only – get your tickets here.
THEATRE: The Lovely Bones, Birmingham REP, Fri 6 Sep-Sat 21 Sep
Charlotte Beaumont (ITV’s Broadchurch) returns to reprise her role as Susie Salmon. You’ve probably devoured the book and loved the film, so why not treat yourself to the theatrical experience of Alice Sebold’s bestseller. This stunning stage adaptation, directed by Melly Still, includes spectacular set design and a rocking soundtrack with 70s favourites and original music to take you through the moving and uplifting story. Make a day of it with a backstage tour, available on September 14 and 21 at 11am. Book tickets here and a backstage tour available 14 Sep and 21 Sep at 11am. Also check out the fabulous autumn/winter season at The REP here.
THEATRE: Absurd Person Singular, Rugby Theatre, Sat 14 Sep-Sat 21 Sep
Alan Ayckbourn’s classic hits the stage offering a nostalgic, wry window into social climbing and relationships in 1970s Britain. Three married couples in various states of dysfunction are observed at Christmas Eve parties in the past, present and future. From the banal to the tragic, it’s vintage dark comedy at its best.
FOOD FEST: Southam Food Festival, Sun 15 Sep
Spilling over the town centre with 40 tempting traders from across the region, with entertainment, bouncy castles and kids’ activities thrown in for good measure. Free entry; takes place in Southam Town Centre, Coventry Road, CV47 1QA. Full info here.
ART: Wonder by Davy and Kristin McGuire, Herbet Art Gallery & Museum, until Sun 15 Sep
Following their contribution to Hull’s successful year as UK City of Culture, artistic duo Davy and Kristin are exhibiting their work in Coventry ahead of its turn wearing the cultural crown in 2021. Their work is inspired by the shady underworld of Film Noir and concepts of femme fatale and the fallen heroine. A series of intricate, animated, wall-mounted dollhouses and bell jars with silent digital projections tell stories that juxtapose adulthood and childhood. Don’t miss this intense exhibition, along with the rest of the enchanting Wonder project which has received rave reviews since opening in June and has seen over 13,000 visitors immersing themselves in art through the medium of modern technology.
Wonder closes at 4pm on Sun 15 Sep.
POP-UP: The Modist, Bicester Village, Bicester, 12 Aug – 24 Sept
Dubai-based luxury online brand The Modest pops up in Bicester Village this summer with its first European boutique (I need that pink dress, like, immediately). The brand will have pieces from contemporary labels as well as from its own brand LAYEUR. bicestervillage.com
NEW EXHIBITION: William Blake, Tate Britain, London, Wed 11 Sept – 2 Feb 2020
Poet, painter and printmaker William Blake has created some of the most iconic images in British art. This new exhibition, the largest of Blake’s work for almost 20 years, will feature over 300 original works, as well as an immersive recreation of the small domestic room in which Blake showed his art in 1809. Other pieces will be digitally recreated on an enormous scale. tate.org.uk
FOOD FEST: Ludlow Food Festival, Fri 13 Sep-Sun 15 Sep
Often hailed as a UK foodie hotspot, the pretty medieval town of Ludlow is where to head for the ultimate gastronomic rural rollick. Held in a castle, with glorious views across rolling countryside, the 25th year of the scrumptious soiree is set to be a superb weekend. More than 180 suppliers from the fields, farms and towns of the Welsh Marshes will be offering their delicacies for sampling and purchasing.
Open Fri 13 Sep 10am-5pm, Sat 14 Sep 10am-6.30pm and Sun 15 Sep 10am-5pm. Find out more here.
EXHIBITION: Maurizio Cattelan, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, 12 Sept – 27 Oct
Italian conceptual artist Maurizio Cattelan is taking residence at Blenheim Palace, Woodstock. You may want to book a three-minute slot to see his piece ‘America’ – an 18-carat gold toilet, which will be hidden inside the palace. Over 100,000 people queued at New York’s Guggenheim to see it in 2016 (12 Sept – 27 Oct). Just don’t, erm, get caught short.
SUPPER CLUB: The Secret Supper Society, Bicester, 13, 21, 27, 28 Sep
Shhhhh! These top secret supper clubs are held in a pretty farmhouse in north Oxfordshire, with each date promising a completely new, surprise six course menu inspired by the season. It’s BYOB, plus tea, coffee and homemade chocolates are included in the cash only price of £49pp. thesecretsuppersociety.com
THEATRE: Don Quixote, Covered Market, Oxford, until 28 Sept
I’m loving the idea of Creation Theatre’s production of Don Quixote – super-edgy locale in Oxford’s Covered Market and an updated plot-line where Sam (Sancho Panza) and Dom (Don Quixote) decide to kit out an ancient motor home and head off on a road trip down the A40 from Oxford.
FESTIVAL: Kenilworth Arts Festival 2019, Thurs 19 – Sat 28 Sep
Artists, leading writers, human rights campaigners and top musicians from the UK and around the world will descend upon this up-and-coming Warwickshire town for a diverse 10-day programme of music, talks and readings art installations, family activities, film screenings, exhibitions, workshops and immersive events. Writers include best-selling novelist Clare Mackintosh, The Guardian’s Amelia Gentleman, who was awarded Journalist of the Year 2018 after exposing the Windrush Scandal, award-winning human rights campaigner, Caroline Criado-Perez OBE and Nathan Filer, mental health nurse and award-winning author of the international bestseller The Shock of The Fall.
Musicians include Nottingham born pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason (photographed above). A finalist in the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition in 2014, and the eldest of the talented Kanneh-Mason family (her brother Sheku played cello at the wedding of Harry and Meghan last year). Plus, singer-songwriter Nadia Reid, from New Zealand, who will be performing a rare UK concert in the beautiful surroundings of St Nicholas Church; celebrated jazz group Darius Brubeck Quartet; contemporary folk artists Joshua Burnside and Rosie Carney, and a double bill of cinematic, instrumental music featuring a joint performance from Polish cellist Resina and Brussels based composer Christina Vantzou.
THEATRE: King John, RSC, Thu 19 Sep- Sat 21 March 2020
Catch one of Shakespeare’s rarely-performed works as director Eleanor Rhode makes her debut at the RSC. Stirring an uneasy semblance to the present day, the tale tells of a nation in turmoil and a king who will stop at nothing to keep his crown. Don’t miss the pre-show director talk with Rhode on Wed 25 Sep at 5.15pm, to hear the fascinating insights into characterisation, design choices, rehearsal room processes and other details that went into creating the production.
FESTIVAL: Emerge Festival, various London locations, 27 – 28 Sept
Dubbed as ‘Night at the Museum meets Glastonbury’ this new arts festival, hosted in venues across London, features 30 ‘late’ events from music, performance, poets, DJs and cocktails. The aim of the game? To visit as many as you can – a ticket gets you a wristband that gives you entry to every single event on the night. See the full line up here. emergefestival.co.uk
NEW EXHIBITION: Tim Walker: Wonderful Things, V&A Museum, London, from 21 Sept