And now The Judge.

Photo Credit: Alex Brenner

This year I have the honour of being one of the judges for BE Festival. Here are five reasons I’m a fan of the festival.

1: I love the ‘lucky dip’ nature of the shows you will see. Each evening four short shows are shared, a tasting menu of surprises; a full meal just of starters – which are always the most exciting element of a meal. If you don’t like the flavour of one piece it’s not long before the next one comes along and the chances are high that there will be something each evening that you will find inspiring.

2: I love the cosmopolitan nature of every evening, seeing what artists from other countries are thinking about and playing with. This is a rare privilege, not a lot of international work reaches us in Birmingham and it’s especially unusual to see more ‘grassroots’ work and not the more predictable ‘big names’.

3: I love the food but more importantly audiences and artists eating together at long tables halfway through each evening reminds me of happy moments touring to theatre festivals in continental Europe, where making art doesn’t feel like a job but feels like life.

4: I love the sense of community at the heart of BE Festival. It was started for the excitement of it all by a group of friends working hard and relying on huge amounts of goodwill. Artists come to share their work, they are hosted by local residents and fed by the festival, volunteers help out and with BE NEXT the next generation of young artists are gaining valuable experiences making theatre.

5: I take an avuncular pleasure in seeing the festival’s reputation grow, the number of submissions increase, the cultural connections multiply, its ambitions soar and outreach work spread. Attending year’s festival causes me to remember with pleasure the excitement and anxiety of first B.E. Festival @ A.E.Harris in 2010.

Returning as a judge this year means I’ll definitely be at every performance. If you see me around please come and say ‘hello’ I’d love to hear your opinions all the show’s you’ve seen.

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