Power of Invention

Power of Invention

BOLDtext Playwrights are delighted to announce that our new site-specific & science-specific show, Power of Invention, will explore Birmingham’s Lunar Society around the turn of the 18th century, and the ground-breaking scientific advances inspired during their full-moon meetings.   Centred on the home of industrialist Matthew Boulton, our audience will meet above-stairs figures such as James Watt, Erasmus Darwin, Anne Boulton and Joseph Priestley, as well as the below-stairs folk who kept the household going, and protected them from the riots.   Collaboration between the physicians, engineers, chemists, botanists, geologists, philosophers, poets and entrepreneurs of the Lunar Society, led to the development of many of our modern technologies.

Our shows will take place at Boulton’s home, Soho House in Birmingham, with input from Birmingham Museums and ThinkTank, and funding from Arts Council England and the Sir Barry Jackson Trust.  We’ll issue confirmed dates as soon as we can.

Following the success of Behind Bars: Ghosts of the Lock-Up at Birmingham’s central lock-up, we look forward to bringing the Lunar Society and its important scientific discoveries to life in its original space.  Watch this space!

STOP PRESS:   We are also preparing another of our regular evenings at The REP with staged readings of four new short plays under the heading of Common Wealth, penned by Liz John, Helen Kelly, Vanessa Oakes and Tim Stimpson.  Originally scheduled for June, we will let you know when we have a new date.

No Planet B

A5 FRONT NO PLANET B copyNO PLANET B at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, January 2020

I thought the world might be suffering from eco-fatigue  – and not turn out on a cold January night to see BOLDtext save the planet with 4 short plays. I was wrong. The theatre was packed and buzzing.

Julia Wright’s Stepping Up opened the show. A well-meaning couple stage a sit-in at an office block. These eco-warriors are also the ultimate embarrassing parents – because their daughter works in that very building. She’s furious but the comedy soon darkens as right wing vigilantes turn up to drive the protesters out. As the thugs get closer, mum, dad and daughter re-unite and fight for their cause.

Enough is Enough by Nicola Jones was inspired by her partner’s hatred of plastic packaging. In the first part a shopper braves anger and ignorance at the checkout as she tries to return her plastic packaging to the supermarket where she bought it. In the second part, a young woman recounts the episode to her father. Despite her father’s climate change denial, the daughter subtly grows and starts to think for herself.

New Doggerland is set in a flooded future with the country largely underwater. Sayan Kent explores the tensions between a mother and her pregnant daughter – while a family friend descends into mythical and religious symbolism to cope with the apocalypse. Is it right to bring a new child into this troubled world?

Definitely not according to the protagonist of my play Suicide Kills. She’s a punk rock singer prepared to die to reduce the human population. Despite the grim title, there were some comedy scenes – including a visit to Planet B – and a song at the end!

The cast – Miriam Edwards, Tyrone Huggins and Rochi Rampal – sparkled throughout. They were superb as they switched between styles and characters   – wonderfully directed by Ali Belbin who must be an honorary member of BOLDtext by now.

The audience enjoyed it because the theatre remained packed for the after show discussion.

The four writers were joined on stage by Dr Katie Chong from Aston University – a specialist in ecological packaging and other clever stuff – and Kefentse Dennis from the Green Party

Kefentse entertained us by recounting what first drew him to environmental matters – it was a crush on his geography teacher! Meanwhile Dr Katie of Cleverness broke the hearts of half the audience by explaining why an all-day breakfast sandwich is an environmental disaster!

Apart from that everybody went home happy. Indeed, an audience member told me that it was the first time she had been to a night like ours and she preferred it to “normal theatre.” Now that is a top compliment!

Stephen Jackson

No Planet B

No Planet B

A polar bear standing on a small block of ice has become a worldwide symbol of climate change and climate change arguments are on our screens every day.  So when BOLDtext were given a January 2020 date at Birmingham Rep, climate change seemed an obvious topic to choose.

Then came the difficult bit.  Four BOLDtext writers  – Stephen Jackson, Nicola Jones, Sayan Kent and Julia Wright – got together to discuss what they were going to write about.  Can we say something new about climate change, can we make plays that don’t sound like preaching to the converted and is there room for any comedy in this serious crisis?  The answers were yes, yes and yes.  Four distinct styles, four different stories and four unique short plays have emerged to encourage and inform discussion.

Then we engaged the experienced Ali Belbin as director and three superb actors – Miriam Edwards, Rochi Rampal and Tyrone Huggins.  Their job is to take the four plays and produce an evening of script-in-hand performances which communicate different characters and different themes with only one day’s rehearsal. No problem for talent like this.

The evening will end with a panel discussion featuring climate change experts and the writers.  The variety of themes in the plays should stimulate lively discussions.  Tickets are already running out so it should be a full house.  Can’t wait!  Book your tickets for this exciting new BOLDtext event on  Monday 20 January 8pm in The Door, via the REP box office on 0121 236 4455 or this LINK.

No Planet B

On MONDAY 20th JANUARY 8pm, BOLDtext return to The Door at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, with a brand new show about climate change.

A5 FRONT NO PLANET B copyGlobal warming is a hot issue and it’s getting hotter.  Forests are burning, ice is melting, polar bears are drowning…

No Planet B is a collection of brand new short plays from Sayan Kent, Julia Wright, Nicola Jones and Stephen Jackson, with a discussion afterwards.

Tickets are free  – but we will rattle a bucket at you on the way out.  Book using this LINK.

Our script-in-hand new writing nights are very popular so it’s best to reserve your ticket in advance.  Hope to see you there!

Enough said!

“I had a great time on Sunday @BhamWeekender checking out the @Bold_Text across #Digbeth with their brilliant promenade piece called Follow Me

“Well the #BirminghamWeekender was a little different this year, my highlight was today’s Follow Me from the super talented folk that make up @Bold_Text Thank you for such an entertaining walk & talk! I never thought I’d ever (knowingly) be singing outside the @O2InstituteBham!”

So glad you enjoyed our intimate tales of Digbeth – from coach travel and concrete-concealed rivers, to music gigs, pub lock-ins and impromptu salsa sessions.  It was a real privilege to take part in Birmingham Weekender and celebrate the Digbeth culture we love.

STOP PRESS:  BOLDtext has two new Open Doors at The REP (dates tbc) in the New Year.  We’ll keep you posted.
FOLLOW ME

FOLLOW ME

Don’t miss BOLDtext Playwrights’ latest endeavour, Follow Meon Sunday 6th October starting at 2pm at Digbeth Coach Station, as part of the wonderful Birmingham Weekender.

Join us on a sometimes giddy, often unhygienic and always revealing walking tour of Digbeth’s hidden history: the one that exists in our heads.  En route you’ll be guided through childhood memories and ushered past passionate exchanges.   You’ll visit the site of bad decisions, not to mention a few life-changing ones.  We’re pulling back the curtain on our shared experience of this vibrant artery at the beating heart of Birmingham.  All those things that are better left unsaid… well, we’re just going to say them!  Click HERE for tickets – we have limited numbers so don’t delay.

BOLDtext are professional writers from the West Midlands who collaborate on work that, while diverse, is always close to home.  Join us in person, as we tell you our most intimate Digbeth stories.  The hour-long stroll starts at the Coach Station and finishes at the Old Crown, stopping off at various points along the High Street, so do come prepared for any weather.

“BOLDtext Playwrights are guilty of putting on a captivating show”  British Theatre Guide on Behind Bars: Ghosts of the Lock-Up

 

“An arresting production full of realism and injustice”

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Laurence Saunders and Graeme Rose as Charles Muscroft and ‘Tommy Tank’

Our latest show Behind Bars: Ghosts of the Lock-Up recently closed after captivating sell-out audiences over the course of twelve successful shows. Don’t just take our word for it. Read Steve Orme’s review in the British Theatre Guide:

Bold Text Playwrights is a group of eight professional writers from the West Midlands whose aim is to create fresh platforms for their work.

Continue reading

Tim and Corinne meet Sunny and Shay!

Tim and Corinne

We were delighted to be invited to appear on the Sunny and Shay show on BBC Radio WM to talk about our show Behind Bars: Ghosts of the Lock-Up. BOLDtext member and director Tim Stimpson joined Corinne Brazier from the West Midlands Police Museum to chat about how the production came about, some of the characters and stories involved, and the exciting plans for the Lock-Up’s future. You can listen by the clicking on the links below.

TIM’S INTERVIEW

CORINNE’S INTERVIEW

If you’re reading this before the production closes there are still a few tickets left for 11am, 2pm and 5pm on Sunday 21st July 2019. Grab them while you have the chance!

www.lockupbehindbars.eventbrite.co.uk

Banged Up by Stephen Jackson

I’ve been banged up, locked up… I’m spending the week in prison. Some might say it was only a matter of time and no more than I deserve. Just throw away the key and leave me to rot. But I haven’t been convicted of any crime. I’m here in Birmingham Central Lock Up working on our theatrical show Behind Bars:  Ghosts of the Lock Up – which is back by popular demand.

My fellow inmates are four wonderful actors plus our director Tim Stimpson. I’ve volunteered to be stage manager. We are once more bringing to life some of the thieves, murderers and police officers who haunt this place.  They are a colourful crew – but maybe the real star is the building itself.

Built-in the nineteenth century, this prison is a scary, scary place – three floors of clanging cell doors and echoing walkways. It’s worth the ticket price on its own. Astonishingly it was still in use until three years ago.

A number of my friends have told me they’ve spent a night in here (remind me to mix with a better class of people) although not all of them were stranglers or burglars. One of my respectable friends fell into a diabetic coma on a bus. The police thought she was drunk and locked her up!

Drunks have been regular visitors to these cells. My contribution to Behind Bars is a piece about Tommy Tank, possibly Birmingham’s most notorious drunkard. At one time he was banned from every pub in the city. But come along and he’ll tell you his version of the story – alongside a few other Ghosts of the Lock Up.

Hope you can make it.

BOOK YOUR TICKETS HERE

 

Eight Become One

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Checking out mugshots of some real Peaky Blinders

It started with a place. The Birmingham Lock-Up on Steelhouse Lane. It started with the Birmingham Police Records and the plans of Boldtext Playwrights and of Corinne Brazier and Steve Rice from the police museum to create a new piece of theatre to reflect some of the history of the Birmingham Lock-Up.

As the 8 members of Boldtext entered the lock-up for the first time, we were stunned by the space.  We were amazed by the atmospheric, Victorian building which has actually been in use right up until 2016. It is a hidden place which few people have seen, besides the police officers and the people arrested or charged with crimes. As you wander through the stairways, cells, kitchen, charge desk and the underground tunnel leading to the Magistrates Court, you cannot help but wonder about the people who worked there or were held there in the last 100 years.

But wonder no more, as the police records provide details of those men and women. We discussed with Corinne the history of the building and people in order to work out the best story to be told. We decided on the time period when Police Chief Constable Charles Rafter was in charge of Birmingham from 1899 to 1935. It was the time of the 1st World War, the police strike, political upheavals, the Peaky Blinders and the first women police officers. At first we were centering our play on the Chief Constable but then we came across a character who spent a lot of time in the lock-up – the notorious drunk, Tommy Tank. He was the person to lead us through the building and introduce us to the ghosts from the past, both the criminals and the police men and women who worked there.

So we went away and each of us took the information on a real person to weave into a short play.  We wrote, we met, we discussed the links and the differences. We wandered around the lock-up listening to echoes, banging on metal doors, calling from top to bottom of the building. And finally it all came together with 8 writers with 8 real characters emerging into a cohesive play about the lock-up. 8 stories became one play. And the audiences flocked in and left having received a unique experience. And now it’s back. Don’t miss it this time around.

BOOK YOUR TICKETS NOW!

Julia Wright