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Free Midsummer Festival - West Midlands

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Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
Free Arts And Culture Performances To Enjoy Online
A free one-day Midsummer Festival to celebrate arts and culture in the West Midlands is to mark the Summer Solstice by steaming a range of exciting performances.

midsummer festival, west midlands, arts and culture,
A Midsummer Night's Dream is the theme for the festival

The Midsummer Festival takes place on Saturday June 20, ahead of the longest day of the year and will feature work influenced by Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

With a mix of both live outdoor events and prerecorded shows screened online, the festival will feature a collection of many West Midlands theatre, dance, music, artists and venues for people to enjoy while social distancing or isolating at home.

It will even include some productions that have never been seen before from companies ranging from the world-famous Royal Shakespeare Company to ACE Dance and Music, along with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.

A live performance of short excerpts will take place at Compton Verney, which was the setting for the 1968 film adaptation of Midsummer Night's Dream starring Dames Judi Dench and Helen Mirren.

sonia sabri company, midsummer festival
Sonia Sabri Company is among the eclectic mix of performances at the Midsummer Festival

The Make It WM website will be the central hub for the digital elements of the Midsummer Festival, streaming a wide variety of arts & cultural activities taking place across the region.

Performances will be streamed online throughout the day with work including WILD, a daring dance-circus production from Motionhouse.

There is also a series of Rural Recordings from Pentabus Theatre including Here I Belong by Matt Hartley and Crossings by Deirdre Kinahan.

While viewers can also enjoy Rosie Kay's CITY - BREATH WATER, a poem of dance responding to the beauty and harshness of the city of Birmingham.

ex cathedra, summer holiday, midsummer festival
Join Ex Cathedra for a musical summer holiday

Award-winning dance and music company Sonia Sabri Company will also be showcasing some of the best highlights of their dance and music performances, as well as a rare opportunity to be part of a live conversation with their internationally renowned artistic and music directors, Sonia Sabri and Sarvar Sabri.

Ex Cathedra will present a selection of summer-themed music, from a birdsong-inspired commission to summer favourites, inviting festival-goers to don their best holiday wear and sing along at home as they take a musical Summer Holiday, somewhere beyond the sea.

Designers from the Royal Shakespeare Company will provide a workshop on how to create your own fairy bower at home, which is inspired by the wondrous woodland bed of Titania, queen of the fairies in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

The day will end in celebration at the Midsummer Vogue Closing Party hosted by DanceXchange. It will see Vogue tutor Jason Andrew Guest inspire audiences to strike a pose in a 15-minute tutorial followed by a 30-minute DJ set and dance party.

jason andrew guest, vogue, midsummer festival
Are you ready to strike a pose with Jason Andrew Guest

As well as the Summer Solstice, the festival programme will take inspiration from Refugee Week and World Refugee Day, which it coincides with.

Highlights include a dance tribute to Ira Aldridge celebrating his life and achievements as an African-American actor in the UK from Ace Dance and Music.

Ikon Gallery and Celebrating Sanctuary Birmingham will present Soapbox - 20 quick-fire, home-produced, soapbox videos based on the week's theme of Imagine.

There will also be digital film screenings of refugee stories from Birmingham Opera Company.

Midsummer Festival is the first event organised by the
West Midlands Culture Response Unit - also known as WMCRU.

WMCRU is trying to help the region's culture sector that include over 100 arts organisations recover and bounce back after the Covid-19 crisis.

The Coronavirus outbreak has hit arts organisations hard, forcing many to remain closed and cancel performances until Autumn at the earliest. Birmingham Hippodrome has already announced it will have to scale back and make redundancies due to its financial situation being in jeopardy for some time to come.

Director of Culture Central Erica Love said: "Covid-19 has decimated the cultural sector. It is more important than ever for the West Midlands to come together and support each other. The WMCRU believe that as a region we should respond to this unprecedented threat in a typically generous, loud and collaborative manner, which is exactly the spirit of Midsummer Festival."

"The festival is the first collaboration of its kind for the region, building on the many digital opportunities we've seen from our arts and culture organisations to bring their work online during lockdown, as well as the outpouring of creativity from households and online communities. It's set to be a great event and we look forward to welcoming audiences through our virtual doors."

Access Midsummer Festival on Saturday June 20 via:

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Why? Celebrate the Summer Solstice and culture in the West Midlands
When: June 20
Where: Online
Cost: Free
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