Birmingham Hippodrome

Now halfway through her internship at Birmingham Hippodrome, Catherine Butler shines a light on the exciting range of projects she has been involved in so far…

Panto season has come to the Hippodrome. This year’s pantomime, Dick Whittington, is officially open! Oh yes it is. I’ve seen Andrew Ryan’s stripy stockings with my own eyes. But aside from the huge mainstage productions, I want to stress how this is just one aspect of a huge range of artistic offerings that the Hippodrome – and Hippodrome Creative Team where I have been based – provides.

At the beginning of this internship, I was sadly unable to engage in two of the main projects that the Hippodrome had planned for me due to unsuccessful funding applications. Upon reflection, (although this was disappointing) it has placed me in a very unique position. I have been able to support the Hippodrome CREATIVE Team across a variety of projects that reach a diverse range of schools and community groups across Birmingham.

The majority of my work has been to support the creative learning and outreach programmes. A particular favourite was supporting the ‘Curtain Raiser’ which enables local children and young adults to learn from and perform alongside professional artists/companies that tour to the Hippodrome.  Most recently was Fagin’s Twist, a contemporary dance/hip-hop adaptation of Oliver Twist. Dance students from Walsall College were invited in for a two day intensive rehearsal process in which they created a short section of work that they performed within the professional company’s final performance. It was quite marked how the students responded to this professional environment and improved over the two days.

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Photo of Fagin’s Twist, a contemporary Dance and Hip-hop adaptation of Oliver Twist

Another large aspect of these past three months has been supporting the production team of Peter Pan the pantomime, in collaboration with Shireland Collegiate Academy’s Theatre School in Smethwick. As the Hippodrome’s representative, this required off sight trips to the school in order to support the rehearsal process. This project enabled me to gain a very real insight not only into an inner school in one of the most deprived areas of my city, but also how much artistic projects like this meant to the children participating. They produced what was a fantastic pantomime, infused with the children’s personalities, talents and interests in hip-hop dance. It was a pleasure to support this production and a very insightful process to be a part of.

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Mrs L. Prince Theatre School Director and myself dressing Shireland Collegiate Academy Box Office ready for Peter Pan

Towards the end of this year I have been actively involved in preparations for Chinese New Year ready for 2017. I have been given the responsibility for programming and producing a set of workshops that will take place in the Hippodrome’s Patrick Centre. I have also been given the responsibility organising educational workshops for a fantastic production of Material Men by the world renowned Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company coming in March.

I reiterate that the experiences outlined here are just a few examples of what I have been involved in at the Hippodrome. My work within a week can vary from helping to write a small section of text in support of a funding application to helping to facilitate a workshop for children about X-Rays. The passion, professionalism and caring nature of the staff I have had the pleasure to work alongside within the Creative, Fundraising and Audience Development teams has been deeply humbling and inspiring. I am excited to see what the next few months will bring.

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