Memories of a Child Pageant Superstar

Memories of a Child Pageant Superstar brings together a series of plays written for Arts & Science Festival that explore childhood memories.

Featuring four monologues, the plays centre upon the industry of child beauty pageants, a growing and controversial industry said to be worth millions. What is the appeal of these curious and divisive events? Are they a symptom of a society that puts too much focus on physical appearance and celebrity? Are they the result of pushy parents and spoilt pre-teen divas? Or could there something more sinister about this growing trend?

Join four individuals as they reflect on incidents which have changed their lives forever. They look at memories and the re-writing of memories after traumatic events and in the process explores themes of gender, sexuality, parenting and childhood, to ask: ‘can you really trust your own memories?’

Presented by MRes Playwriting Studies in collaboration with MRes Directing.

Eye of the Storm

Meet Emmie Price.

Her life has been a whirlwind. Torn between caring for her mam and proving she’s got what it takes at school, Emmie knows one day her world is going to change. One day she’s going to become a storm chaser…in America. But will her invention for renewable energy be enough to win her a bursary to study in the USA?

Multi award-winning Theatr na nÓg present an unmissable original musical play, set against the backdrop of the Welsh Valleys with an original live soundtrack written by Grammy Award winner Amy Wadge.

A theatrical event of courage, determination and compassion for children aged 8+ and adults of all ages.

Please note, latecomers may not be admitted until a suitable break in the performance.

Presented by Theatr na nÓg and Swansea Grand Theatre.

The Neutrino Passoire

The 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded for the “discovery of neutrino oscillations”, recognising key contributions to experiments which demonstrated that neutrinos – the elusive particles in the Universe – change identities. This discovery changed our understanding of the innermost workings of matter!

The peculiar behaviour of the omni-present neutrino, which passes through normal matter, the earth and our bodies, rarely interacting with them, is the insp-iration for a new collaboration between University of Birmingham particle physicists and contemporary dancers Mairi Pardalaki and Fanny Travaglino.

The dancers will use the image of a colander (‘passoire’ in French) as a metaphor for the human body, through which neutrinos pass without realisation or memory of the event itself.
Presented by the Particle Physics Group

Julia Bardsley: An Apian Paradox

With just a couple of turntables, two female bee-ings remix Belgian symbolist poet Maurice Maeterlinck’s classic natural history text The Life of the Bee, in its entirety, to a soundtrack of drone music by Earth.

Creating a hive party and under the influence of exotic substances secreting from their own bodies, anthropological questions rise to the surface when the vinyl grooves are scraped by venom styluses in this elaborate installation. Why are these workers planning to massacre the males? Are you OK Honey?

Presented by Fierce Festival with support from Arts & Science Festival.

The Good Sisters

When Germaine wins a million Green Shield stamps, she goes giddy with plans to cash them in and transform her tatty flat into the poshest pad in the block. She can’t do anything until the stamps are stuck into their books — so she gets the girls round for a “lick ‘n’ stick party”.

These feisty and formidable women would do anything for a share of the jackpot to help them escape the drudgery of their daily lives. A single stamp is pilfered and soon, whole books are being stuffed into handbags and hidden inside hair-dos. As resentment bubbles up and tempers flare, the night turns into a rowdy and raucous disaster, with cat-fights across the kitchen table and dark secrets coming to light.


Lie down, look up, and listen – this is an unmissable immersive, entertaining, mind-expanding experience in a mobile planetarium dome with 360 degree visuals!

The performance brings together an astrophysicist, two poets and a musician in a careful balance of voices, music, sound and visuals.

Astonishingly well put together in that this is the ultimate ‘sensory’ experience. Clever. Disorientating. Insightful. Beautiful.

Please arrive ten minutes prior to performance – late entrants will not be admitted under any circumstances. Please note, the performance is experienced from the floor – mats and cushions are provided.

The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant

Marking the 70th anniversary of Fassbinder’s birth, Little Earthquake joins forces with the University to stage the Birmingham premiere of this classic melodrama from the boozed-up bisexual bad boy of German cinema.

Petra von Kant is the queen of the Bremen fashion scene, and having buried one husband and divorced her second, she unexpectedly finds love in the form of Karin, a much younger woman who becomes her model and her muse.

But when home truths start to flow along with the gin and tonics, the stage is set for Petra’s downward spiral into self-destruction, all set to a sizzling soundtrack of German kitsch pop classics.

Mad(e) in Hades

Greeting, my house! And greeting, doorway to my hearth! What happiness to see you, as I come at last Back to the living world!

Having dealt with the three-headed guard dog of Hades, Heracles returns home to save his family from the tyrannical Lycus. Unfortunately for his own wife and children, Heracles’ killing has only just begun…..

Written by students of the University of Birmingham’s Masters Playwriting course, under the guidance of Course Convenor and playwright Fraser Grace, these three new solo plays present a startlingly modern take on ancient story.

Directed with a professional cast by Robert Ball, in a script-in-hand performance, this event aims to raise funds for the annual Playwright’s Workshop, which will showcase student thesis plays later in the year. Support your local playwrights!

Presented by Department of Drama & Theatre Arts 

Mary Shelley

In 1814 the teenage Mary Godwin meets the radical Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley for the first time. Their love is instant, passionate and irreversible. In the face of parental opposition and social scandal they elope to Europe in search of personal and artistic freedom. Helen Edmundson’s compelling play charts the emotional fallout of this legendary affair and the emergence of Mary as the brilliant author of Frankenstein.

Presented by Department of Drama & Theatre Arts 

368 Days of Kindness: Can Kindness Change the World?

Multi-media show tells the heartbreaking, surprising and challenging stories of that year. Part storytelling, part stand-up,m part live documentary, this show attempts to answer the question: is it possible to change the world just by being kind?

In Search of Water

This participatory indoor and outdoor walk, led by a guide, invites participants to wear Pointy Hat costumes on a walking journey in search of water on campus.

Costumes act as ‘portals of perception’ – bringing awareness to how we experience ourselves, others and the environment. How does a Pointy hat make you walk, talk, think and interact differently? How do others perceive you? Participants will be on the lookout for water at all times and when sighted, will gently ‘ring’ their Pointy Hat bells located at the top of their hats.

The walk ends with a short discussion on how the hat affected our experiences and perceptions, as well as the need for water.

This walk will start from the centre of campus at 12:00. Meet at Aston Webb Reception (R6 on the campus map) and please arrive 5 minutes early.

Presented by Sally E. Dean in partnership with Arts & Science Festival

The Particle Event


This event brings into dialogue two works developed in collaboration with the University of Birmingham’s Particle Physics group: Neutrino Passoire, a performance by contemporary dancers Mairi Pardalaki and Fanny Travaglino and musician Alex Mentis; and The Sketchbook and the Collider, a series of moving image works by artist Ian Andrews.

Consider the connections between movement, interaction and the invisible in this three-way conversation combining two art forms and particle physics research.

Presented by the Particle Physics Group

Where’s My Igloo Gone?

by The Bone Ensemble
Directed by Adam Ledger
Performed by Jill Dowse and Sam Frankie Fox

“Truly magical. Children’s theatre at its best” 

“A wonderful show for kids and grown-ups to make us talk and think about climate change and what we might do”

Oolik is an ordinary girl who goes on an extraordinary journey…Sitting in her igloo, a drop of water falls on her head. Then another! Is her home melting? Join Oolik as she sets out on a journey to find help. On her way she meets some exciting friends – including YOU!

Journey into a dazzling, Arctic world of soaring snow geese, pet husky dogs and starry nights. And the kind of cold that makes your skin tingle! Travelling through snowstorms, across oceans and into our hearts, Oolik is not the kind of girl to give up on her quest…With enchanting live music, it’s a fun, magical experience for all the family, showing that when we work together, anything can happen!

Where’s My Igloo Gone? is very visual in nature and contains no spoken English so is extremely accessible to d/Deaf, hearing and non-English speaking audiences.

Please be aware that filming of the performance will take place for the purposes of research documentation. Signage will be in place at the venue as well as a programme note to detail the purpose of this. Due to the nature of the performance, some audience members will be seen in the film. If you do not wish to be filmed then you may ask not to be featured at the venue and information about how to withdraw your consent at a later date will be provided.

Presented by The Bone Ensemble  in partnership with Arts & Science Festival and The Bramall.

Dover Beach

by Caroline Horton
Directed by Ian Nicholson
Performed by Final Year Undergraduates in the Department of Drama and Theatre Arts

“Welcome to The Dover Beach hotel. Now is everybody ready for a sing-song? We are the Brits – for those of you we don’t already know – and we’re here with you tonight and every night for your delight with our fabulous entertainment programme – you need never leave!”

Romance blossoms at the seaside but the white cliffs are crumbling and this place is going downhill. A new play combining music hall, poetry and an unusual love story.

Presented by the Department of Drama and Theatre Arts.

It Came From Outer Space!

Boldly go where (almost) nobody has gone before – behind the scenes at the Lapworth Museum of Geology.

We’re inviting you to a theatrical guided tour which lifts the lid on some of Lapworth’s most prized specimens. Step through to a rarely glimpsed space, lined with magical moving shelves, all packed with marvels from deep underground plus some stunning extra-terrestrial treasures.

If we dig even further beneath the surface, what secrets might we uncover — not just about the objects on display — but also about the mysterious tour guide…?

This event coincides with Lapworth’s Family Fun Day and forms part of the Museum’s year-round programme of entertaining, inspiring and educational family activities.

Presented by Little Earthquake in partnership with the Lapworth Museum of Geology and Arts & Science Festival.

Access: There is level, but restricted access on this tour. If you have any access requirements please let us know in advance by contacting us at 


50 years after the Apollo 11 Moon landing, Little Earthquake is joining forces with Midlands Arts Centre (MAC) and the University of Birmingham to celebrate this special anniversary in spectacular style.

Running 16 – 24 July, MoonFest begins on the same day that Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins launched into space 50 years ago, and concludes on the day they splashed down into the Pacific Ocean at the end of their fantastic voyage.

For nine special days expect a programme bursting with events and activities created with artists, academics and audience members.

For full details of the MoonFest programme, visit

Two Women

The 2018 National LGBT Survey revealed that 68% of Britain’s gay community avoided holding hands with a partner in public for fear of a negative reaction from others. Two Women is a VR experience set on a bus which, in the flash of a daydream, explores how barriers in society block the intuitive desire to connect with another human being.

DYSPLA are award-winning neurodivergent artists exploring the neurodivergent aesthetic. Winners of ‘Best Artist Film’ at the Aesthetica Film Festival 2018, DYSPLA are now in the post production phase of their first VR film to be screened at the ‘BAME & BEYOND’ event in London.

Presented by DYSPLA and Festival of Audacity in partnership with Arts & Science Festival.

Adam Kay: This Is Going To Hurt

Welcome to 97-hour weeks. Welcome to life and death decisions. Welcome to a constant tsunami of bodily fluids. Welcome to earning less than the hospital parking meter. Wave goodbye to your friends and relationships…

Welcome to the life of a junior doctor.

Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, comedian and former junior doctor Adam Kay’s This Is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line.

Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking by turns, this is everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn’t – about life on and off the hospital ward. And yes, it may leave a scar.

About the speaker:

Adam Kay is a writer, comedian, and trained doctor. After years as a junior doctor, he turned to writing and credits include Mitchell & Webb, Very British Problems, Mrs Brown’s Boys, Crims (co-creator), Mongrels, Up The Women, Flat TV, Our Ex Wife, Bounty Hunters, Blind Date, Child Genius – alongside panel show / live writing for high-profile comedians, writing for TV advertisements in UK and US, and rewriting hit Broadway musicals for transfer to West End. He is a Sunday Times columnist.

Presented by Birmingham Literature Festival with support from Arts & Science Festival.


Maya LOVES water! Swimming in the sea, splashing in her paddling pool. But one summer’s day, she gets sucked up the bathroom tap – SQUOOSH! – and along the water pipes! WHOOAAHHHH!

Arriving in a strange new land, Maya goes on an exciting journey, plunging into rivers, discovering oceans, battling unexpected villains! And you get to join in, making the show’s soundtrack with live beatboxing and watery sound effects! Watch out for the water pistol fight – don’t get squirted!

Come with Maya as she finds out more about the beauty, fun and challenges of water in an age of plastic and climate change. A story about learning to care about the world and its precious resources.

See MAC website for details of ‘Meet the Water Experts’, a post-show discussion with the creative team and scientific collaborators.

Please note, latecomers will not be permitted entry once the show has started.

Gulp! is directed by Dr Adam J. Ledger, Reader in Theatre and Performance and Co-artistic Director of The Bone Ensemble, with the participation of Prof David Hannah (UNESCO Chair of Water) and Dr Anne van Loon (Senior Lecturer Physical Geography), all University of Birmingham.

Presented by The Bone Ensemble with support from Midlands Arts Centre, Arena Theatre Wolverhampton and artsdepot. Gulp! is funded by Arts Council England, Severn Trent Water, University of Birmingham, Sir Barry Jackson Trust and Feeney Trust.