The Black Maze


Imagine a whole lifetime’s worth of exhilaration and confusion condensed into five minutes and you have some idea of what The Black Maze is like. It offers the same breathtaking thrills and choking excitement as a good ghost train but in a subtler form and with more of your own involvement

Nicholas Royle – The Independent on Sunday

The Black Maze is an adventure in the dark for one person at a time.

It is a five minute journey into the darkness of your own imagination.

It doesn’t look very big from the outside, but once you dare to enter you find yourself in seemingly never ending narrow, black twisting corridors.

You feel your way through the dark, you hear you heart beat echoing allaround and you catch glimpses of your frightened face staring back at you from the gloom.

Your feet feel unsteady beneath you but you must keep going and never turn back, keep going until you see the stars.

The Black Maze was commissioned by Alan James for Birmingham City Council’sRevolution event, which took place on 2nd & 3rd January 2000, part of the city’s Forward Festival.It was designed and built by Stan’s Cafe in collaboration with Mark Anderson from the Multi-Media Co-operative Blissbody. Customised electronics were built to Mark’s specification by the excellent Graham Calvert, also of Blissbody. Special optical effects were kindly supplied by P.A.Lights. From initial discussions through to completion the maze took six weeks to build. It contains nine speakers, four microphones, a video camera, four sampler boxes, what seems like miles of cable and a host of secrets.

The Black Maze used to be flat packed but is nowbuilt into the back of a 7.5 tonne lorry and so is now entirely self contained and ready to go.

It has was incredibly popular wherever it went been – it toured toured villages on the outskirts of Paris, it was once in a shopping centre in Ireland, the middle of a field in Berkshire, a pub beer garden in Devon, the seafront in Bexhill-on-Sea to name but a few.

Unfortunately you are too late to buy The Black Maze, it was sold to someone more interestedin lorries than mazes. It was decommissioned late in 2010. It exists now merely as memories and photographs. Annoyingly it wsa pretty much impossible to photograph inside The Black Maze as it was so…. black.


Designed and built by
Mark Anderson, Craig Stephens and James Yarker

Custom electronics Graham Calvert

The Black Maze was commissioned by Alan James for Revolution, part of Birmingham City Council’s Forward Festival.
The lorry conversion was made possible by an Arts Council England Touring Grant.

With Thanks To:
Paul Arvidson & P.A. Lights
Parcel Force and Cadbury World each for giving us parking space for a number of years.
John Sloyan of A E Harris & Co. (Birmingham) Ltd. for giving us parking space in the final years.
Phil Collier for dealing with the implications of John’s kindness.
Graham Clavert for his on going PAT testing help.

With No Thanks At All To:Whoever stole our batteries whilst it was parked at Cadbury World.

A wonderful experience of the excitement associated with fear, darkness and the unknown

Audience Member

The transition of physical space to imagined space, reminiscent of many aspects of life today

Audience Member

Tour Dates

  • 5th – 10th October 2010:
    Domaine d’O, Montpellier

  • 11th – 12th September 2010:
    ArtsFest, Birmingham

  • 4th – 8th August 2010:
    The National Theatre, London

  • 24th – 25th May 2009:
    Junction, Cambridge

  • 5th – 9th August 2008:
    The National Theatre, London

  • 25th – 27th August 2007:
    Compton Verney

  • 5th – 7th February 2007:
    Nagy Britmania Supernow Festival, Budapest

  • 27th – 28th May 2006:
    Fusion East Festival, London

  • 11th May 2006:
    Metropole Hotel, Brighton (NHS Staff Event)

  • 22nd April 2006:
    Fuse Festival, Chatham

  • 4th – 7th August 2005:
    Stockton International Riverside Festival

  • 9th – 10th July 2005:
    Godiva Festival, Coventry

  • 25th June 2005:
    Haywards Heath Hospital Fun Day

  • 17th – 18th June 2005:
    Celebrating Sanctuary, Birmingham

  • 9th – 11th June 2005:
    St. Etienne

  • 3rd – 5th June 2005:
    Garden of Delights, Manchester

  • 31st March – 3rd April 2005:
    Edinburgh in Thessaloniki Festival, Greece

  • 26th March 2005:

  • 9th – 11th November 2004:
    Warwick Arts Centre

  • 2nd July 2004:
    Independent Theatre Council 30th Birthday Party, London

  • 19th June 2004:
    Royal Sussex Hospital Fun Day

  • 27th March 2004:
    Craven Arms Community Centre

  • 30th October – 2nd November 2003:
    Old Museum Arts Centre, Belfast (Belfast Festival)

  • 26 – 27th August 2003:
    Ampthill, Bedfordshire

  • 23 – 24th August 2003:

  • 18 – 21st August 2003:
    Edinburgh College of Art

  • 6th August 2003:

  • 22nd July 2003:
    Loughbrough University Students Union

  • 9th July 2003:
    Rural Touring Network Conference

  • 2nd – 3rd July 2003:
    Broadway School, Birmingham

  • 28th June 2003:
    Haywards Heath Hospital Fun Day

  • 21st June 2003:
    Corsham Festival

  • 14th – 16th June 2003:
    Celebrating Sanctuary Festival, Birmingham

  • 7th – 8th June 2003:
    Combe Martin and Ilfracombe (North Devon Festival)

  • 31st May 2003:
    Ludlow Assembly Rooms Tenth Anniversary Celebrations

  • 18th – 24th May 2003:
    La Ferme du Buisson, Noisiel, France

  • 17th February 2003:
    Broadway School Birmingham

  • 8th February 2003:
    Artsparks Festival, Nottingham

  • 7th – 8th September 2002:
    ArtsFest Birmingham

  • 24th – 25th August 2002:

  • 14th – 17th August 2002:
    Kilkenny Arts Festival

  • 3th – 4th August 2002:
    Merseyside International Street Festival

  • 5th – 7th July 2002:
    South Hill Park, Bracknell

  • 4th July 2002:
    Castle Bromwich Art Site

  • 20th June 2002:
    Sheldon Heath Art Site

  • 1st, 5th – 8th June 2002:
    Art Sites Birmingham

  • 20th – 25th May 2002:
    Fierce Festival, Warwick Arts Centre

  • 9th – 11th May 2002:
    Brighton Street Arts Festival

  • Converted into its lorry form.

  • 14th – 16th August 2001:
    De La Warr Pavillion, Bexhill-on-Sea

  • 3rd – 17th March 2001:
    Site Gallery, Sheffield

  • 24th – 27th October 2000:
    Freefall & Now Festivals, Nottingham

  • 26th August – 21st October 2000:
    Coming to Our Senses, Gas Hall, Birmingham

  • 2nd – 3rd January 2000:
    Revolution, ICC, Birmingham

I came across The Black Maze in Budapest when I went to the dentist there. It was brilliant and so unexpected, I wandered by chance to the truck in the street and watched people come out a little door in the back one by one, visibly affected by their experience. I had no idea what was inside, people werewaiting to go in, it was very mysterious. Each person had to pass through theinstallation alone. It was like a mad dream inside, with the walls squeezing you and ethereal sounds being triggered by your movements, doors into differentfractured dimensions, hidden doors, and clever manipulations of our normal senses. Altogether a top class show. Thanks.

Sarah Lovett

t was an exhilarating experience pushing forward through the darkness. It seemed to be a metaphor of life, going into the void, yet emerging into the light after a successful journey