All The World's Your Stage: Ten top cultural escapes to witness a performance this summer

By Ben Miller | 06 August 2010
A photo of wooden puppet figures against a shadowy backdrop layered with multicoloured lights

The summer seems to invigorate cultural venues to lay on an inspiring range of performance art. Here are ten to watch out for...

King Arthur’s Tales at Tintagel Castle in Tintagel: Three times a day for a month, arch Somerset puppet protagonists Rattlebox Theatre get to run riot around this legendary castle in Cornwall to tell a few tales on King Arthur, Merlin and the old friends and foes of Medieval England. They’re briefly interrupted by the Famous Five next week, voiced by “Cornish bard” Mike O’Connor, whose humorous take on his earnest subjects comes with the obligatory lashings of ginger beer. See Tintagel online for more.

Films and Performance at Warwick Arts Centre: This month’s Summer Circus School of wire walking, trapeze teaching, stilts, unicycling and Diablo dropping is the tip of the iceberg in Warwick, where fringe cinema packs out a programme punctuated by performances from the likes of Polar Bear, who cemented their position as one of the finest jazz bands in Britain by becoming the Mercury Music Prize’s token finalist from the genre, and a host of comedians, dancers and theatre companies. Visit the centre’s events page for full details.

Festival Brazil at London’s Southbank Centre: Headlined by the flamboyantly conceptual spectre of the New Décor and Ernesto Neto show at the Hayward (see our review), the Southbank’s slice of summer samba features a Rio Carnival on the Clore Ballroom floor and the re-appearance of the Hip-hop Shakespeare Company. See the full listings here.

Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre at Trongate 103 in Glasgow (top of page): In a pitch black hall at the top of the anarchic Glasgow commune that is Trongate, sculptor-mechanic Eduard Bersudsky’s ingenious collective (named after the Russian for hurdy-gurdy) have carved an underworld of eerie figures out of old scrap. Scary but always captivating, they play out tragic-comic stories of life and death against a fading light show and creepy musical score. Visit Sharmanka online for more.

Tuesday Tunes at the Mac in Birmingham: The Mac sounded ambitious when we spoke to them ahead of their reopening in May, so it’s no surprise to see singer-songwriters, female theatre and ragtime and roots on the agenda for their Tuesday sessions. They also host a premiere from dance company Cascade, comedians including Patrick Monahan and Robin Ince and a full programme of music from around the world, theatre and spoken word. Check out their what’s on page for the full story.

Princesses, goats and sorcerers at Norwich Puppet Theatre: The Puppet Theatre’s battle to secure its future appears to have been successful, which is just as well considering the packed programme they’ve got coming up. Audience workshops and a version of Macbeth are among the highlights – see the full list here.

Music and dance at The Bluecoat in Liverpool:
Something of a hub for local musicians, the ever-popular Bluecoat opens its garden for an “acoustic underground” or rootsy country blues, folk and soul in an intimate setting. There are also regular performance workshops and discussions. Visit their website for more.

Go mad at Nottingham Contemporary: According to Nottingham Contemporary, the glass harmonica gathered “a sinister reputation” for driving listeners mad. Take the risk by listening to Radiohead and Gorillaz collaborator Thomas Bloch play it, joined by 50s turntable connoisseur and Diane Arbus devotee Tom Hill. Look through their full listings for the full, extensive programme at the centre.

Romeo and Juliet in Cornwall: Reviewers have reported elements of Bob Hoskins and Monty Python in Miracle Theatre’s energetic take on the classic, which recently toured the Isles of Scilly. During the next couple of months they play castles, gardens, parks, houses and farms across the county – read their tour dates for full details.

Free Fringe Music at the National Museum of Scotland: Planners at the National Museum have picked a programme exploring the different cultural traditions of North-West Europe to coincide with this year’s festival, featuring traditional performers playing folksongs from Nordic and Celtic climes and the Hebrides. It finishes with a Fringe Finale Ceilidh courtesy of the Canongate Cadjers. See all the shows lined up and take your pick.

Have we missed the best ones, or have you seen any performances at museums, galleries and heritage sites this summer that you think should have been included? We want to know. Send us your favourite stage shows and we'll feature them on Culture24 as part of our Punter's Picks series this summer…

Email richard@culture24.org.uk – include a picture if you have one and a few words telling us why you picked your choice. Mark your email "Punter's Pick".

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