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Birmingham Rep to host European culture festival

Birmingham Repertory Theatre. Photo: Craig Holmes.
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Birmingham Repertory Theatre will be the home of this year’s Be Festival, which celebrates European culture, after the event was forced to relocate from the factory it previously occupied.

The festival, which was founded five years ago, used to take place in an empty factory in the Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham. However, since its owners began manufacturing again, the event required a new site for the forthcoming programme of events.

Festival organisers will now use Birmingham Rep to stage shows from 20 international companies in a “back-to-front” configuration, with the theatre’s set construction workshop becoming a festival bar and the stage itself being used as a pop-up restaurant. Audiences will enter shows from backstage.

Miguel Oyarzun, co-director of the festival which runs from July 2 to12, said: “The Rep’s set construction workshop has that same industrial feel and function [as the previous site] and once we’ve moved out the machinery and tools and brought in some lights, comfy chairs and a bar it will be a fantastic place for people to meet and soak up the atmosphere.”

Theatre companies from 11 countries, including Spain, Italy, Hungary and Serbia will perform 30-minute plays, alongside live music, exhibitions, workshops and discussions.

Performances include Finger Trigger Bullet Gun, which is a new work by Serbian playwright Nenad Prokic written for theatre company Stan’s Cafe, and dance from Hungarian act Radioballet.

Oyarzun added: “Be Festival has helped put Birmingham on the map for theatre companies across Europe. In our first year we had applications from 60 European companies wanting to perform at the festival, this year we had more than 600. It’s great to see that Birmingham and the festival is fast becoming a destination for artists from across Europe.”

Roxana Silbert, artistic director of Birmingham Repertory Theatre, said: “I’m delighted that the Rep will be home to this brilliant, creative festival and it’s particularly nice to be able to allow audiences backstage to enjoy and explore spaces where usually our carpenters, metalworkers, scenic artists create and build sets.”

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