Friday 18th - Monday 21st February

WH Auden Festival


Solihull has an important connection with the poet, WH Auden, who spent the formative years of his life in the town. Auden came here as a very young child and his family lived here during the first decade of his life, which coincided with the First World War.

This new festival, which is a collaboration between Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and Solihull Business Improvement District and programmed by Parrabbola (international community arts organisation), explores his artistic output through interpretations of his work, as well as that of his collaborators and contemporaries.

In this first festival, we’re looking particularly at Auden as a young man – during the 1930s where he might be said to have developed his individual voice.

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We want to focus on the ‘Art For All’ ethos, bringing the arts to audiences of all ages in a myriad of different ways.

These will include immersive street theatre performances, live readings of poetry, film screenings, talks, music performances, vintage market and a museum style Auden installation as well as participatory activity for all.

 

FULL LINEUP

WH Auden and Isherwood

FEBRUARY 18TH

All About Auden
Touchwood Atrium

Discover the story of WH Auden’s life and the wonders of his work. Not only a poet, but a man of social action and immense personality, WH Auden is an undisputable world figure, who grew up in Solihull. Find out more by visiting the displays in Touchwood Atrium throughout the duration of the festival.


The Poet’Tree
3pm – 4.30pm – The Core – Open to the public

A chance for everyone to discover their inner poet and to contribute to our festival collection by writing a poem and hanging it on the tree.


Auden and the 1930s - a time of liberation and repression, an Illustrated Talk
7.30pm – The Core Theatre Studio

Secrets and sacrifices, the battle between right and wrong, and a desire to be heard – Auden lived his life in the 1930s through these challenges. Hear Professor Janet Montefiore (University of Kent, WH Auden Society) examine these times of upheaval with an
eye towards WH Auden’s personal experience. There will be some poetry readings and discussion, as well as a Q&A. Tickets can be reserved through The Core Theatre website.

 

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FEBRUARY 19TH

All About Auden
Touchwood Atrium

Discover the story of WH Auden’s life and the wonders of his work. Not only a poet, but a man of social action and immense personality, WH Auden is an undisputable world figure, who grew up in Solihull. Find out more by visiting the displays in Touchwood Atrium throughout the duration of the festival.


The Poet’Tree
10am – 4pm – The Core – Open to the public

A chance for everyone to discover their inner poet and to contribute to our festival collection by writing a poem and hanging it on the tree.


Vintage Producers’ Market
9am – 5pm

On Saturday and Sunday, the High Street will be home to a 1930s themed vintage producers’ market, featuring fresh bakes, classic tipples and handmade gifts from the very best local producers.


Words on the Street
12pm – 4pm– Town Centre

Prepare to be enchanted and delighted by poetry, on your very own high street. Our engaging actors offer you a private performance of their very favourite Auden works. This is an experience you don’t want to miss.


Bluebird Belles
12.40pm, 1.40pm, 2.40pm, 3.40pm - Touchwood Atrium

Don’t miss the incredible Bluebird Belles performing live in the Atrium at Touchwood this Saturday, 19th February. Each performance is 20 minutes long.

Dubbed ’the best thing since The Andrews Sisters’, The Bluebird Belles - 1940s & Vintage Trio are a professional 1940s & vintage vocal harmony trio from the West Midlands. With their polished close harmonies, slick choreography and elegant appearance, the girls add a touch of nostalgia which will transport audiences to a bygone era.


Conveniently Married
Shows at 10am & 3pm – Solihull Train Station

Throughout history, humans go out of their way to help others, even in the face of unseemly horror. How do we manage it? Why do we do it? And when all seems hopeless, how do we continually find new ways to hope? A promenade theatre performance exploring the marriage arranged by WH Auden between his friend, fellow writer, and Dorridge resident John Hampson Simpson, and the German actress Therese Giehse at Solihull Registrar Office
on May 20th, 1936. Reserve your free ticket through The Core Theatre website – spaces are limited!

PLEASE NOTE: This is an hour and 15 minutes walking show, starting at Solihull Station, traveling through Tudor Grange Park, and ending at O’Neill’s Pub, covering a distance of approximately one mile. Performance may be subject to changes based on weather or COVID-19 restrictions – as it is entirely outdoors, audiences are encouraged to wear weather appropriate clothing. Attendees of the show agree to take full responsibility for their own health and safety.


Pop Up Performances
2pm- 4pm – Solihull Town Centre (various locations)

Extracts from plays and letters – texts from WH Auden, Christopher Isherwood, and the Birmingham Circle and
more will be gracing the town centre – ranging from intimate and heart-warming to jovial and energetic. Four 15-minute performances will be popping up every quarter of an hour at various locations throughout the town centre in these two hours, so it’s easy to see all four.


Berlin in the 1930s
7.30pm – The Core Theatre

Music from Berlin of the 1920s and 1930s, which might have inspired Auden’s own musical theatre and opera collaborations. Songs by Kurt Weill including the Threepeny Opera, and other Berlin Cabaret composers, are paired with extracts from Benjamin Britten’s American operetta Paul Bunyan, for which Auden wrote the libretto. Tickets available from the Core Theatre Box Office/website The Core Theatre, Solihull (thecoretheatresolihull.co.uk)

 

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FEBRUARY 20TH

All About Auden
Touchwood Atrium

Discover the story of WH Auden’s life and the wonders of his work. Not only a poet, but a man of social action and immense personality, WH Auden is an undisputable world figure, who grew up in Solihull. Find out more by visiting the displays in Touchwood Atrium throughout the duration of the festival.

Vintage Producers’ Market
9am – 5pm

On Saturday and Sunday, the High Street will be home to a 1930s themed vintage producers’ market, featuring fresh bakes, classic tipples and handmade gifts from the very best local producers.


Conveniently Married
Show at 3pm – Solihull Train Station

Throughout history, humans go out of their way to help others, even in the face of unseemly horror. How do we manage it? Why do we do it? And when all seems hopeless, how do we continually find new ways to hope? A promenade theatre performance exploring the marriage arranged by WH Auden between his friend, fellow writer, and Dorridge resident John Hampson Simpson, and the German actress Therese Giehse at Solihull Registrar Office
on May 20th, 1936. Reserve your free ticket through The Core Theatre website – spaces are limited!

PLEASE NOTE: This is an hour and 15 minutes walking show, starting at Solihull Station, traveling through Tudor Grange Park, and ending at O’Neill’s Pub, covering a distance of approximately one mile. Performance may be subject to changes based on weather or COVID-19 restrictions – as it is entirely outdoors, audiences are encouraged to wear weather appropriate clothing. Attendees of the show agree to take full responsibility for their own health and safety.


Pop Up Performances
2pm- 4pm – Solihull Town Centre (various locations)

Extracts from plays and letters – texts from WH Auden, Christopher Isherwood, and the Birmingham Circle and
more will be gracing the town centre – ranging from intimate and heart-warming to jovial and energetic. Four 15-minute performances will be popping up every quarter of an hour at various locations throughout the town centre in these two hours, so it’s easy to see all four.


Mixed Programme Film Event
5pm – The Core Theatre

Join us for a mixed programme of short films from Auden’s life and works. Featuring the acclaimed documentaries, Night Mail (1936) and Coal Face (1935). Both contain poetry by Auden and scores by Benjamin Britten. More information can be found and tickets can be reserved on The Core Theatre website.


Four Weddings and a Funeral
7.30pm – The Core Theatre

This well-loved romantic comedy from 1994, starring Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell is ranked one of the BFI’s Top 100 British films from the 20th century. It follows a group of friends and their adventures in love and prominently features WH Auden’s poem Funeral Blues. Bring a tissue and a loved one and join us as we
celebrate Auden on the silver screen. Tickets available from the Core Theatre Box Office/website The Core Theatre, Solihull (thecoretheatresolihull.co.uk)

 

WH Auden 1956

FEBRUARY 21ST

Lunchtime Birthday Concert
1pm – St. Alphege Church

Happy Birthday WH Auden! On what would have been his 115th birthday, we celebrate the collaboration between two great English artists, WH Auden and Benjamin Britten, in a very special song recital, given in the church where the Auden family were parishioners during their time in Solihull. Programme to include the song cycles: On This Island, Fish in the Unruffled Lakes and The Cabaret Songs.


The Poet’Tree
10am – 4pm – The Core – Open to the public

A chance for everyone to discover their inner poet and to contribute to our festival collection by writing a poem and hanging it on the tree.

 


For more information, please visit the festival hub in The Core Theatre Box Office.

W.H. Auden Festival (thecoretheatresolihull.co.uk)

 


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Contact Organiser

Mail: info@solihullbid.co.uk
Number: 0121 285 1370

Venue:
Solihull Town Centre

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