BE FESTIVAL at Birmingham Rep

The BE festival brings the exciting world of European theatre, performance and dance in to the heart of Birmingham for a week-long celebration. Theatre companies from across Europe bring their newest and most thought-provoking work to show case and also compete for the best show of 2017’s festival. The week also included workshops led by directors and companies for audiences to get involved and learn about their process in an incredible opportunity.

The moment you stepped into the BE festival, it was not the traditional theatre experience instead you are thrown into a celebration of the connections and bonds that happen between the arts community across the continent.

This year’s theme for the festival is “Europe drawing the line: Physical and Imaginary Borders”.  Many of the performance were looking at the borders that are being put up across Europe not only to keep people out, but also the borders that can affect us on an emotional level.

The first performance of the evening was the BE festival’s youth company BE Next working with children from across the Birmingham area who first language is not necessarily English. Mixing together acting, spoken word, dance and physical theatre to create a stimulating performance which leaves the audience asking themselves about what kind of personal borders do we put up ourselves? It was refreshing to see the generation of performers opening the final night to the BE festival.

Unfortunately, the BE festival future is in turmoil as the ever-looming Brexit deal may stop this festival taking place in Birmingham again, because of working visas for the European artist. This is the reason this year’s festival has never been so important, to show that the art community stands together. This brought excitement to the festival as everyone wanted to share their ideas and opinions, this was able to take place at the interval dinner in which the performers, audiences and the Festival creators were able to sit on the REP’s main stage and have these conversations while sharing food.

The BE festival is an incredible celebration of the arts across Europe and hopefully will continue and grow over the next few years. Even as other connections across the continent may break down, these types of festivals are essential for the future of the arts across Europe.   ★★★★★   Georgina Randall    9th July 2017