On Tuesday I attended the opening night of BE Festival. Upon approaching the Birmingham Rep I could hear music blasting through the windows and as soon as I walked through the door I was surprised with so much creation and colour. The creators of BE Festival don’t hold back, the entirety of the foyer was decorated and innovatively designed.
It’s like a different world, a world in which Birmingham and other European countries collide to create a vibrant and exciting sense of community. The festival even has its own currency called Karma” and money can be exchanged at the festival for The Karma which can be used to purchase food, drink and the famous Be Festival mojitos.
I was then lead into the studio to watch the first performance titled Locus Amoenus, by a Spanish company called Atresbandes. After winning 1st prize at BE Festival in 2012, they returned with a fantastic piece that was both fascinating yet hilarious. Set on a train, the piece explored the idea of struggling to reach paradise. Despite a few technical difficulties it was enriching and really set the tone for the rest of the festival.
During the interval I was invited to an interval dinner which took place on the stage of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. The dinner is to emphasise the sense of community, and to break the barrier between the audience and the performers. The performers had dinner with us which allowed us to ask questions and learn about theatre in their culture.
After dinner the final performance took place, the winner of BE Festival 2014 Antonio Tagliarini performed a piece titled Show. The performance was an attempt to paint a self portrait using the help of the audience. It was another incredibly funny, tragic, yet utterly thought provoking performance using the idea of alter egos.
I expected both performances to be quite perplexing considering I am not in tune with European theatre however it wasn’t, I found them highly compelling and it really opened my eyes to the different styles of European theatre.
Throughout the week BE Festival provides Birmingham audiences with a mixture of theatre such as circus, dance and acting pieces.
All information for the event can be found here. The festival runs until Saturday 27th and limited tickets are still available for tonight and tomorrow.