On Saturday night I took a couple of (out of town) friends to AE Harris for the Birmingham European Theatre Festival. We turned up a bit late so only managed to catch the last piece – one which would’ve been a fantastic spoof on art student theatre if it wasn’t for the fact they were taking themselves seriously.
Serves us right for turning up late – I’m told some of the earlier suff was ace. The night wasn’t over though, with a reasonably-priced bar, music from the TG Collective (in the rather dark pic above), some last-night awards handed to the companies that had performed, the results of the singing workshop from earlier in the day (audio below) and, as reported on Stan’s Cafe’s blog, music and dancing till dawn.
Despite some worries about ticket sales in the weeks beforehand, the last couple of nights of the festival were pretty much sold out and the various theatre companies who had come to the city seemed to have enjoyed themselves, with much talk of returning next year.
There was a fantastic atmosphere and my friends went away impressed with the sort of thing that Birmingham gets up to, so well done all who were involved. As Graeme rightly comments:
It was worth being there for the sense of gathering alone
One last thing – it was a little odd to see AE Harris decked out as a ‘proper’ theatre but it scrubs up rather well. I’ve seen it used for all sorts of things since it opened – 24HR Scalextric, launch parties, a Christmas party, filled with rice by Stan’s Cafe and filled with detritus (including upturned cars) by Kindle Theatre. It fills a very important and individual gap in a city that’s not blessed with mid-size venues, so it’s encouraging to hear that discussions are ongoing to keep the place open past the initial lease.