Issue 183
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William Shakespeare was Barding it up, big style, some 400 years ago. It's fair to say he's not exactly "emerging talent". But for their latest festival, Bill's biggest fans, the Royal Shakespeare Company, are turning their back on him to present theatre by some of our nation's most exciting rising stars. We've been talking to Mischief Festival inceptor and Deputy Artistic Director at the RSC, Erica Whyman, about the mind-bendiness that's heading Stratford's way. Stop sulking, William.  
It's now only weeks before paying audiences will be taking in a range of productions in varying stages of development and Whyman's juggling rehearsals, last minute meetings and press calls. Soz Erica. With an ardent focus on development, the OBE-holder came up with Mischief as an outlet for exploring ideas that don't fit into Stratford's usual moulds. All productions, talks and related events will be doing their thing at The Other Place (pictured above) — a new build aptly known as the RSC's engine room — a space where ideas become the next big thing. Or don't work at all. Low risk stuff, then. 
Tom Morton-Smith's 2014 production Oppenheimer was such a hit at the RSC that it transferred to the West End. From the same pen, with the same potential and top of the festival's central double-bill he now presents The Earthworks. Whyman describes the 45-minute, one act play (pictured in rehearsals above) as "rigorous, complicated and really accessible". Set on the eve of the activation of the Large Hadron Collider, the at first conventional work follows a single night in a hotel, which "produces a moment that is suddenly about grief and love and how to think about yourself — it's got incredible hidden depths and offers a super contrast to the second half of the bill". On the subject of which...
Myth is the result of an idea proposed by Kirsty Housley (pictured above), which has taken two and a half years to get to this point. Centred around an easily recognisable wine-fuelled dinner, two couples discuss their careers and expectations before things start to, shall we say, malfunction. Without giving too much away, what excites Whyman about this rehearsal piece (i.e. a production in which the play and script were developed with the actors) is how radical this seemingly normal situation turns out to be. "It's reactive, immersive and I promise audiences they will be surprised by how events unfold — the timelines are tight but I'm really pleased with how this play is developing." It's a snip at just £15 to see both headliners.
Mischief is also an opportunity to see pieces at their very beginning. We Are Arrested is currently a written account by journalist Can Dündar (pictured), of his arrest and exile from Turkey, following his newspaper’s decision to publish evidence of covert arms dealing. During the festival, a director, actor and other creatives will spend a week turning that account into the beginnings of a production — and very unusually — audiences can see the product (on June 16). If all goes well there will be further development, and perhaps even a full production in the future. For context, Matilda the Musical was developed for seven years before it even went into rehearsal, so don't be saving dates just yet.
Also on the agenda: Masterclass from Purity Beer on June 10 at 2.30pm; Post-show talk on June 5 with members of the acting company; and launching just before the festival, Spoken Word Night on May 19 at 7.30pm, with performance poets exploring the issue of climate change. Open mic slots available.


Unique. A lot of events like to throw the term around, but we'll stake our company's entire office space on intoxicATE delivering unique in bundle shaped bundles. The immersive art, food and performance experience — taking place at an undisclosed city centre location — is based around ingredients that stimulate body and mind. And giving only the smallest smidgen away, think starters served from sculptures, and cast moulded seashells taking the place of plates (and being entirely edible should you be so inclined). With each of the eight Middle Easterny courses, performers will guide guests on a different sensory journey. Muster time is 6.50pm on May 26. Tickets, at £25, are limited to 36.


This riveting documentary is based on an unfinished autobiography by James Baldwin, writer, and one of the Sixties Civil Rights Movement’s leading lights in the US, which was absolutely robbed at the Oscars. Baldwin’s words are read on the soundtrack by Samuel L Jackson over archive footage, but it’s the clips where he reads his own work that are the real standouts. Like Ava DuVernay’s 13th, footage of cops hosing down protestors is juxtaposed with images of Black Lives Matter and a certain Donald J Trump to powerful effect, although Baldwin’s gay identity is somewhat glossed over. Angry, lucid, and inspiring, this is perhaps the best of the recent crop of documentaries on this subject. Times & trailer


Lawn tennis was first devised less than half a mile from Edgbaston Priory Club. Fairly apt then that the good-looking gaff is now the firm home to one of the major warm-up tournaments to precede dear Wimbles — the Aegon Classic. World No.6 — and Brit numero uno — Joanna Konta has confirmed her attendance, as well as two other players within the world's top ten. And depending on your luck, you could be securing four seats to semi-finals day (Saturday, June 24) for absolutely nothing. Also part of the prize, which you've got a chance at if you subscribe to our sister title Bell & Smokey — is pick-up in a tournament car, access to the players' lounge and spots at the winners' press conference, including a meet *and* a greet. Subscribe (free) by 12pm on June 1 to be in the draw. The tournament runs June 17 to 25, tickets. T&C apply
Venue: Natural Healthy Foods, Unit 1 Sirius, Orion Building, Suffolk Street Queensway, B1 1LT (opposite the entrance to Mailbox); website
Choice: Smoky Black Bean Chilli (£2.10 per kg) Chooser: Waitress

It's national don't just talk about burgers you heathens week, so as is our way, we've taken things a Herculean stage further, in the form of vegan cafe and store, Natural Healthy Foods. Operating a help yourself, weight-based pricing system, the menu changes as regularly as, well, the days of the week, but you'll always find hot, cold and salady sort of stuff with dhals, glass noodle salads, and puds like dragon fruit cheesecakes and cacoa brownies. Plus chilis — oh the chilis. We tried the kitchen's smoky black bean version with walnut chorizo and missed the meat element of our usual Mexican-ing naught — the dish was full of flavour and texture and led to an afternoon snack count of zero. The team also do a hot drink called a Bulletproof, which we're fairly sure has the power to reverse ageing, weight gain and probably a hangover — think cacoa and almond milk plus plus plus. Insider tip: if you pile up the crazy large plates, your lunch will be uncomfortably pricey. Sample menu


Tell you who's fighting the good fight: Independent Birmingham, champions of our city's indie heroes. Last weekend they held their first ever festival and they celebrated with these ace Brummie badges. Kindly they kept a few aside for you to get your funny, sausagey fingers on. Head this way with six of your finest digital dollah.


Because The Plough, Harborne's pub-shaped people magnet needed to make itself more popular, they've got a monthly hit of Sunday delicious for your diary. OPM are on launch duty, this weekend, with Cheezy-E and Bacon Cheese burgers, plus Bayo on the Bayou — an American sauced nod to the US with Swiss cheese. From 4pm until sell out. Which could be early.
  • Get up on your Japanese forest bathing this National Walking Month, with ParkLives at the Lickey Hills from 2.30pm, Saturday
  • Kings Heath's got a vegan market across the village square this Sunday from 12pm. Vegetropolis and The Vegan Grindhouse are on nosh, while Twisted Barrel Ales are on quaff
  • Micky Flanagan's at the Barclaycard Arena for six nights across May and June, starting this evening. Tickets are from £31.74. Of course
  • The Hippodrome is hip-hopping it's way across Southside with B-Side Festival, Friday to Sunday. Arriving with a big side of graffiti wars, no calling the old bill, yeah?
  • Creative Café is returned, bringing with it laugh making illustrator and designer Jimmy Rogers on June 9. Tickets for the breakfasty event are £5
"Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor." - James Baldwin
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WORDS: Katy Drohan, Andrew LowryTom Cullen
IMAGERY: Can Dundar: © Claude Truong-Ngoc / Wikimedia Commons; Intoxicate: Zunaira Muzaffar; Burger: Jack Spicer Adams

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