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BAB, WE'RE BACK! 16 - 22 OCTOBER 2017


*Club Fierce Klaxon* Tomorrow night with SHOUT Festival!

There’s nothing we love more than an impromptu party and we’re thrilled to be throwing one tomorrow night for SHOUT Festival at AE Harris.

Get down to see Rachel Clerke and the Great White Male’s fab gig/show Cuncrete, then stick around afterwards for a very handsome all-female line up of DJs and performances.

We’re delighted that Lucy Hutson will be bringing her performance ‘Grindr vs The Women’s Institute’ to Birmingham for the first time and winner of the UK’s premiere Drag King competition ‘Man Up’ Manly Stanley (pictured) will really get the party started. The perfect soundtrack will be provided by Cassie-Philomena Smyth and it’s all included in the cost of a Cuncrete ticket. Show is at 8pm, party from 9pm. DON’T MISS IT.

Saturday 18th November, AE Harris. Get your tickets here.

Volunteer View #1: Opening Night

Welcome to the first Volunteer View, a series of written responses to Fierce 2017 from festival volunteers.

Response to the Opening Night of Fierce 2017
by James Kennedy 

As a volunteer for Fierce 2017, I went along to the opening night at the Festival Hub (Quantum Exhibition Centre on River Street in Digbeth). Even as a long term admirer of performance art, getting back into the scene at 38 was going to be difficult. It was an opening night, and I was in the very essence of haute couture, green fisherman’s jumper (with elbow patches), best jeans (M&S Autograph) trainers and big coat. There were a lot of very fashionable people about; but I must say that the speeches did their best to relax the entire audience and encourage them to bloody well enjoy themselves.

Indeed, it was a rousing speech by the artistic director Aaron Wright, adulating the team that had helped support the vision for Fierce 2017. He set out the agenda for the weeks programme: “Provoke: Politicise: Party”. A week filled with some of the most exciting international live art performers of today, this would be an opportunity to audiences to examine what they get and don’t get about performance art, and make them ask why.

Erin Markey (image by Manuel Vason)

After Aaron left the stage, the audience was treated to a performance by Erin Markey, who is debuting her UK show “Boner Killer” at the Festival l on Thursday and Friday night. Tonight, we’d hear the story set to music from her previous show “A Ride on the Irish Cream” about the story of a girl refusing her mother’s orders to follow the predestined route into tap class, and the different ordinations of tap that there were.  The story was excellently told, and made me fully want to launch into a closer study of Amercian folk culture, ritual and carnival.

Francois Chaignaud and Marie-Caroline Hominal’s (image by Manuel Vason)

We were then told to go into the room behind the bar, and find our places on beanbags that were scattered around in front of two small stages. When everyone was settled in the lights went off, and for the next half hour we were in the hula-hooping realm of Francois Chaignaud and Marie-Caroline Hominal’s UK premiere of Duchesses.

As a living sculpture, if you had the space and wanted to invest in some really contemporary art, you would quite happily have this pair in the corner of your living room gyrating in the nude, keeping their hula hoops in perpetual motion. At first, as spectators we were able to see their faces as they were cast in shadow, concentrating instead on the motion in front of us. Sitting on bean bags I got to think about how we must have appeared to Chaignaud and Hominal as they were locked in the moment of their gruelling performance. We all much have looked, out of the corner of their eyes like baggy rocks in a black desert.

It was a stunning feat of achievement to keep this spectacle up for so long, not only for the viewer, but also for the performer. There was no distracting soundtrack throughout the performance, and the vast majority of the crowd were in respectful silence with the occasional flash of camera, despite it being a drop-in performance. All we had was the noises of the effort that the performers were making, and the constant hum of the air conditioning around, adding to the surreal/hyperreal scene in front of us.

Ostensibly there could be a narrative, the man and the women hula-hooping repelling and attracting each other, sometimes the hula-hoops would meet each other and crash, and grunts of absolute effort began to fill the silence. In seemingly a shorter time than the 34 minute duration, the lights went out and the performance finished. And the reaction from everybody I heard said it was an absolute success. 

Splash Addict (image by Manuel Vason)

Before I talk about Splash Addict, a collaboration between Susie Green and Simon Bayliss, I have to say that both the lighting and sound that FIERCE have arranged for the hub (overseen by production partners Cloud One) was absolutely terrific, and completed the imagery set by Splash Addict incredibly.

The setting was sparse yet effective for the performance.  Disco lights, a stand for the synthesiser and a gigantic chaise longue in the middle. I didn’t see the performers’ entrance, but the crowd were soon enticed to get up to the front. Susie Green’s commanding and laconic spoken vocals put into a classic performance very much in the spirit of a  Grace Jones, a Nico or a Miss Kitten, and Simon Bayliss’ electronic sounds assimiliated the best of electroclash and minimalist techno, through a handful of incredibly poppy songs, even finishing off with a bit of Gabber at the end for good effect.

Susie Green’s solo exhibition, Pleasure is a Weapon, examining the relationship between fetish and form, runs at Grand Union, part of the Minerva Works arts complex at nearby Fazeley Street until the 18 November, and is open from Wednesday to Saturday from 12-5pm.

Quarto (image by Manuel Vason)

I saw a circle of spectators on plastic chairs in contemplative thought watching Quarto unravel and ravel the black 1,000-metre rope over the space under them. When I see something like this, I find it fascinating to think how many separate narratives are being constructed in the spectators heads of what this all actually means, philosophical feats of thought, how long should they stay for, or indeed if they’d remembered to get milk in for the morning. Indeed, Quarto’s performance could have been seen as a representation of the way in which the human mind is constantly pulled apart, self-analysed and distracted in so many different and ever-increasing ways. Or, of course, many other things entirely.

Double Pussy Clit F*ck (image by Manuel Vason)

The stage was now set for (pause) Double Pussy Clit F#ck (nervous laugh.) I was excited to see these, being a fan of riot-grrrl in my youth, and enjoying its re-emergence in recent years with bands such as Texas’s Sailor Poon and London’s Skinny Girl Diet to name put a few. Searching on YouTube for a clip of their performance I was greeted with a lot of YouTube community approved pornography, which I didn’t think was what I was after, however I did chance across another grrrl band by the name of Clitoris Rex (from Missouri) which again were very up my street.

But (pause) Double Pussy Clit F#ck (nervous laugh) were from Glasgow, and soon they arrived on stage to rapturous applause. A three piece, all pretty much in the nude with long black wigs, save for one on my left who had a bear mask on, who I believed was the Bez (or the bears) of the band, enticing the audience to dance their macabre but brilliant dance.

Instead of distorted guitars and spiky riffage, the enticing and repetitive music was played on a child’s drum kit and synthesizer and and a ukulele, and the whole performance was that of absolute organised chaos and anarchy. A performance so in-your-face, fierce concentration was absolutely on the spectacle. The bands were totally in control and it was a great live performance, with the audience completely on side. I took a film of their penultimate song, which is all about loving someone so much you would like to make a leotard out of their skin, which is a pretty appropriate summing up of their sound.

James Kennedy is a freelance writer with an MA in Writing living in Stirchley, Birmingham. He is currently working on a long-term non-fiction project called ‘The Wind’ , an personal account of Birmingham City Centre’s regeneration and renewal. He likes to blog about the arts, is particularly interested in hauntology and psychogeography, and likes Nintendo, music and a cup of tea.
More of his written work can be found at: jameskennedycentral

HIGHLIGHTS so far (It’s not too late to join us for the final few shows today)

Miss out and be sorry. Check out some highlights so far…. See you later?


Checkout our highlights video, and join us for more fun across the week:

Spotlight: Fierce FWD 2017 gang

We had a chance to ask some of our Fierce FWD artists (who will be performing their work at this years festival) some questions so we can get to know them a little better, their muses and musical tastes ahead of their shows this week.

The Fierce FWD artists have been developing work over the past 6 months working in collaboration with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. In addition to working with a major theatre organisation there is a strong emphasis on going to see work as part of the programme which has created pathways for Fierce FWD artists to be exposed to a number of research trips to Live Art events around the UK, including; SPILL Festival of Performance, In Between Time: Bristol International Festival, Steakhouse Live and Arika.

Malikiscrycrycry also known as Malik Nashad Sharpe

Show: $elfie$

When: Thursday 19th OCTOBER

Born in New York City but raised in London, Malik is a choreographer whose work explores themes and issues from sexuality, race, to the deep dark web and nationalism. Malik performs under the moniker Malikiscrycrycry and will be sharing his work $elfie$ at Fierce festival 2017.

$elfie$ is a work built out of physical and internet investigation and was initiated by my desires to create an environment for which we can all abandon failed nationalist projects and is third/fourth in a series of five works around the ontologies of blackness and queerness.

Who or what  inspires you at the moment?

Memes, cybernetics, affect theory, allostatic load, choreography as a social proposition, mirrors, vapourwave, the idea that gender is ending, alt-lit, QTIPOC, assemblage

What was your first thought when you woke up this morning?

Authoritarianism has laid bare the intentions behind neoliberalism is a pretty honest way–It is so difficult to call out any system of oppression right now because the people who most ardently defend freedom of speech are those who have no basic understanding of the concept and they are trying to stay in power. Those historically in positions of power are those who continue to hold that power no matter how many revolutions or uprisings, no matter what “progresses” we have made, but at what point, at how many generations must one exist in this country, or any country, to be seen as an equitable member in society? I mean, there is nothing equitable about the world–no equality–nothing. It doesn’t exist in a world defined by runaway capitalism. But a phobic majoritarian culture isn’t okay with permitting those from minoritarian cultures to hold positions of power, and then utilise police states in order to maintain those hierarchies. We are all scarily complicit in the maintenance of a police state, but we don’t realise that it is just being refined and exacted in order to take rights and power away from those who have historically gone without. Ideally, I would hope that we would just collapse our concepts of power so that we can dream about other systems and ways of being–because at some point everything will be destroyed. I choke on toxic air in London every day. I wonder if Choreography can do things.

What are you currently listening to?

I often listen to things on repeat for long periods of time, on repeat at the moment is: ACTRESS, The Other People Place, Kelela, Ugly God, AK420, Larry B, Rico Nasty, and Bali Baby.

What are your top 3 Fierce Festival 2017 picks?

There is so much amazing stuff happening at FIERCE like how am I supposed to choose but ok here we go–My top three pics would have to be:

Last Yearz Interesting Negro’s “i ride in colour and in soft focus, no longer anywhere”

Andrew Tay’s “Fame Prayer/Eating”

Colin Self’s “Siblings”

Read more about the world premiere $ELFIE$ and buy your tickets here


Instagram: @malikiscrycrycry


Louisa Robbin

Show: To Care

When: Saturday 22 October

Louisa is a live artist and writer, a sad girl who projects her feelings on to glitter and gold and a Queer Black British (African) woman who is forever ticking boxes.

Her latest work ‘to care’ explores her depression and the desperate need to keep going, keep doing and be more.

Who or what  inspires you at the moment?

The rise of the black alternative! I’m loving the representation of the awkward black girl, the black nerd, the black and lgbtqi. I’ve always got my eyes on platforms that raise and cherish these profiles. They remind me daily to continue to be who I am, unapologetically.

Incase you’re curious, here’s a few folks I’m talking about…

Michela Coel

Lena Waithe



What was your first thought when you woke up this morning?

I can barely think in the morning to think of what I’m thinking of…

 What are you currently listening to?

Moses Sumnney – Aromaticsm

Kelsey Lu – Church

Kadjha Bonet – The Visitor

Kendrick Lamar any song, any time.

And anything poppy from the 90’s-00’s

 What are your top 3 Fierce Festival 2017 picks?

 Eca Eps – From Chibok to Calais

Demi Nandhra – I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired

Jamilla Johnson Small – i ride in colour and soft focus, no longer anywhere. Last years interesting negro

 Louisa’s ‘to care’ is presented with Bedlam festival and Fierce. You can find out more and buy your tickets To Care here


Instagram: @louisa_robbin


Vivian Chinasa Ezhuga

 Show: Ghana Must Go and Britney Spears

When: Saturday 21 October

 Vivian is an interdisciplinary artist, working in live art, film and drawing.

Born in Nigeria, Enugu state, Chinasa Vivian Ezugha makes work that attempts to connect her to her cultural heritage and to the questions she is asking about her identity as a black woman living in England.

 What inspires you at the moment?

Right now I am inspired by a group of students that am working with in Germany as part of a symposium called ACT. MOVE. PERFORM. Their commitment to trust me and my crazy ideas brings joy to my heart. To perform is something special, but to inspire others is powerful.

  1. What was your first thought when you woke up this morning?

I woke up this morning feeling very down. I have been dealing with a lot and this morning it came back to me like a flood. But then i went downstairs saw the awful  breakfast and thought, ahhhh life isn’t so bad! being a bread must be a painful thing.

  1. What are you currently listening to?

Am listening to Fela Kuti and lots of afrobeats because i like to dance.

  1. What are your top 3 Fierce Festival 2017 picks?
  • Eca Eps
  • Jamila Johnson
  • Anne Rochat

Vivian’s Ghana Must Go and Britney Spears is a world premiere, commissioned by Fierce You can catch her performance as part of Be The Change: An Edwardian Tea Room Late programme. Read more about this  here


Twitter: @VEzugha 


Emily Warner

Show: Untitled

When: Sunday 22 October

Emily warner is a multi-disciplinary artist using her background in visual art to explore art and create work that activates relationships and interactions with people and place.

Her selected work ‘Untitled’ is a wide and open research enquiry into the nature and existence of water. This is a theme that if often sourced to be present in Emily’s previous works.

 Who or what  inspires you at the moment?

 I’ve dipped my toes back into study mode this autumn, so am continually inspired by my current encounters with Jen Harvie – in all formats. Jen is a Professor of Contemporary Theatre & Performance, and I’m really switched on by her podcast series – Stage Left – where she exposes the working practice of a range of artist/performers. They’re honest, insightful and reassuring – and I particularly enjoyed this one

What was your first thought when you woke up this morning?

 Where am I?… Go back to sleep!

  1. What are you currently listening to?

Someone sat next to me on the train listening to Shania Twain. Real loud. With another guy snoring over the top. That aside, before I left the house this morning I was listening to a 90’s jungle set by Kode9.

  1. What are your top 3 Fierce Festival 2017 picks?

Clearly a challenge to whittle to a selection of 3.. in no particular order I have picked:

Louis Vanhaverbeke – Multiverse

(cus… i’m really into toolkits and how not to use them)

Adam Kinner & Christopher Willes – Listening Choir

(cus… any chance to converse with Birmingham streets in new ways)

Andrew Tay – Fame Prayer / EATING

(cus… i’m interested in not fixing things that are wrong)

  ‘Untitled’  will be  performed as part of the Everything Fits in the Room showcase, read more and buy tickets for this show here.


Twitter: @emilykwarner


Fierce FWD is a development programme for emerging artists living or working in or originally from the West Midlands. The scheme is aimed at those developing performance and Live Art.  Fierce FWD is a proud and integral element to us as we value the importance of providing a platform for new artists to come through and give them the space to nurture new work, so that we can continue to push the culture forward in a relevant and meaningful way to society.

Fierce FWD is generously supported by Jerwood Charitable Foundation. You can read more about our programme here

Spotlight on: i ride in colour and soft focus, no longer anywhere

Last Yearz Interesting Negro. Image: Max Colson

It’s a little over 24 hours until Fierce present the world premiere of i ride in colour and soft focus, no longer anywhere, the new work by Last Yearz Interesting Negro, the solo project of Jamila Johnson Small. And there’s a new trailer for the occasion. Here it is:

Good isn’t it? Hopefully it will give you some sense of what you’re in for if you make it along. Jamila makes work that is deeply considered – conjuring images and feelings that linger long after the work is over – but she also creates spaces you want to be in. She’s a magnetic performer. The music is ace. Her movement is compelling. It’s meaningful and important and it’s also really cool.

“It feels like being a spectator at an achingly cool and slightly intimidating club night. The music, all original to the show, is superb… …Johnson-Small can channel the music even into her shoulder blades, and frequently does over the course of the performance, confining herself to ‘the sensual pleasure of small dances’, as it says in the programme notes. I don’t mean that to sound dismissive in any way; she’s a remarkable conduit for the music, a perpetual motion machine, and the musical frequencies travel at the speed of sound from her ankles to her neck to the tips of her fingers.” [Draff Magazine – review from Dec 2016 of an earlier version of the show]

Basically, the message is it’s going to be ace. But if you want to read more people telling you that, check out some of these other reviews, from Ramsay Burt and Tia-Monique Uzor, and these interviews with Jamila in The Fifth Sense and The Evening Standard. And visit Jamila’s blog.

Buy tickets here

HOTLINE line-ups announced!

Image: Gnucci

We’re very excited that HOTLINE is coming to Fierce! Curated by Jamila Johnson-Small and Sara Sassanelli HOTLINE is a format for public discussion, using an extended duration to bring out more complex and fruitful conversations. It is not an artist talk or panel discussion.

We’re delighted to announce the line-ups for the two HOTLINE’s at Fierce 2017.

Friday 20th October, 1pm until 4pm at the festival hub.
Phoebe Collings-James
Malik Nashad Sharpe
Michele Rizzo

Saturday 21st October, 11am until 2pm at the festival hub.
Lucy Suggate
Adam Kinner
Christopher Willes

HOTLINE is free to attend!

Access at Fierce Festival 2017

At Fierce access for all is important to us, we are committed to making Fierce Festival accessible and below are the services we are able to office for Fierce 2017. We know these are limited and can be improved, so we would like to hear your comments and feedback to help us as we continue to improve this. We also realise that sometimes people need things not on this list – if that’s you – please contact us and we’ll do everything we can to meet your requirements.

You can contact Fierce to discuss any access requirements by emailing or calling 07933 596010.


Wheelchair Access

All festival venues have provision for disabled audiences and are accessible for wheelchair users, with provision of disabled toilets, with the exception of Moseley Road Baths. We will present Eca Eps – From Chibok to Calais at Moseley Road Baths which does not have step free access or disabled toilets.


Assistance Animals

Assistance animals are welcome throughout the festival. So we can ensure we provide the best facilities for you and your assistance animal, please let us know at the point of booking.


Hearing impaired audiences

BSL interpreters will be working on:

Aaron Williamson – Demonstrating the World, Saturday 21st October, Victoria Square, 12pm -6pm

Demi Nandra – I’m Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired, Sunday 22nd October, Birmingham Conservatoire, 3pm – 7pm


Everything Fits in the Room is a non-verbal piece, presented at the Hub on Saturday 21st (4pm) and Sunday 22nd October (4pm). There will be a BSL signer at the venue on Sunday 22nd October to meet and greet signers and answer any questions they might have.


In addition, there are a number of performance which are non-verbal including:

Lucy Suggate – Pilgrim

Simone Aughterlony & Jen Rosenblit – Everything Fits in the Room

Last Yearz Interesting Negro / Jamila Johnstone-Small – i ride in colour and soft focus, no longer anywhere

Michele Rizzo – Higher


Financial accessibility

Fierce have worked hard to keep ticket prices as low as we can, and have included concessionary rates for the majority of events. Where individuals travel with a companion, companion tickets are offered free of charge.

In addition, there is a number of events which are free to access including:

The Grand Opening Party

Be the Change: Late at the Edwardian Tea Room


and durational works (so you can drop-in at any time throughout the performance):

I’m Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

Demonstrating the World

Capitalism Works For Me!

Crazy But True

Lord of Flies


Invisible disabilities

If you have invisible disabilities and your needs are not met within the provision laid out here, and you would like to discuss any specific access requirements relating to this, please do get in touch directly.


Meet-Ups / Discussions

Fierce FWD artist Suriya Aisha is working with Fierce to hold two sessions considering access as part of her wider project, Horizontal. Sessions will be in a closed space at Centrala (a short 2-minute walk from the hub) and will have some light refreshments available and some music. They are an informal space for groups to meet up, share and reflect on their experiences of the festival.

10.30am – 12pm – Disability / Access Discussion

12.30pm – 2.30pm – People of Colour meet-up

More info


Getting About

We have programmed a number of pieces within a 5-minute walk from our festival Hub, Quantum Exhibition Centre, including

$elfie$ at Ace Dance and Music

This Ritual is not an Accident at West Midlands Creation Centre

The Listening Choir at Stryx (please note this is a walking tour piece)

Meet-Ups at Centrala


Black cabs are managed by TOA who can be contacted by calling 0121 4278888 or visiting

Uber assist and Uber access are both available in the city through the Uber app. More information about these services can be found here:



Please see details of available disabled parking at our partner venues by following the links on the relevant venue website detailed below.

At our hub venue there is free on street parking available directly outside the venue, this can get busy, so in addition we have spaces at our offices (approximately 3 minutes from the venue). If you would like to use this parking please contact us on the details provided.


Partner Venues

Information about accessibility from our venue partners:

See details from Birmingham Repertory Theatre

See details from Patrick Centre, DanceXchange, Birmingham Hippodrome

See details from mac Birmingham

See details from Birmingham Conservatoire

Bonjour from Studio 303, Montreal!

Dear Fiercers,

Bonjour from Studio 303 in Montreal!

Next week, you will have the chance to experience outstanding performance by 3 Quebecois artists – most of whom are showing work for the FIRST TIME in the UK. These presentations are in collaboration with ELAN and supported by Canada Council for the Arts.

Co-curated by myself and Aaron Wright, this triad of work provides a snapshot of contemporary performance in Montreal, by an innovative young generation of makers.

I experienced a self-produced informal showing of Andrea de Keijzer and Erin Robinsong‘s this ritual is not an accident in 2015, and was very moved. The work is sincere, intelligent and generous, continuously revealing layers of meaning around identity, ecology, connectedness.

Andrew Tay‘s recent trio Fame Prayer/ EATING was developed in residency at Studio 303 in 2016. Andrew Tay has a unique/signature aesthetic and compelling onstage presence. This collaboratively-created work is gorgeous, uber-queer, unsettling and funny.

Adam Kinner and Christopher Willes were in residence at Studio 303 this past August. While I have not “seen” Listening Choir, I have had the privilege of experiencing two other remarkable collaborations with original and engaging approaches to choreographing the act of listening.

Fierce has presented several 303-suppported artists in the past, including Dana Michel, PME-Art and most recently Sherwin Tjia (Queer Slowdance). This year’s Quebec programme builds on shared affinities between Fierce, Studio 303 and the artists who work with us. Political, curious and hopeful, these artists question modes of presentation, invest in relating to their audiences, embrace a culture of collaboration, value intimacy and DIY ethics.

Have a great festival, and don’t forget to say hi to the Canadians.

I wish I could be there!
Miriam Ginestier,

Director of Studio 303 in Montreal

In collaboration with ELAN and supported by Canada Council for the Arts.

Pippa Frith’s top picks!

Festival Producer Pippa Frith outlines her top picks from the Fierce 2017 programme.

It goes without saying I’m pretty excited about the whole programme… I’ve been talking to the artists, producers, production managers, looking at images, watching trailers and generally getting stuck into the programme since joining the team back in March. So pulling out favourites is tough, but here are a few that I really can’t wait for…  

Preach R Sun – Lord of Flies

Preach is the real deal. His work is politically urgent and his vision and plans for this one-off performance art piece are amazing. I think it will be challenging and deeply moving, as well as visually stunning. I’m particularly excited about the dawn and dusk moments.

Erin Markey – Boner Killer

Late night comedy cabaret, with drink in hand, what is not to like… I’ll be bringing all my I’m-not-sure-about-performance-but-I-do-love-comedy friends to this one.

Demi Nandra – I’m Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

I’ve loved Demi’s work since I first came across her a few years ago, her urgency and honesty is inescapable, as is her sense of humour. I’m always keen to champion artists from the region, so it’s fantastic to see Demi take her rightful place in the programme this year.

Lauren Barri-Holstein – Notorious

As a woman who loves to sit around with other women talking about women, I can’t wait to see this bold, fearless exploration… and if the trailer is anything to go by…. It’s going to be amazing.

Ant Hampton – Crazy But True

I’m always on the lookout for works I can recommend to my friends with families, and this is perfect for all generations. First look it seems fun and cute, second look and you realise there’s a lot more to think about. I love that young people can get involved and perform on the day too!

Louise Vanhaverbeke – Multiverse

I can’t take my heart out of the theatre ultimately, and so this hit theatre show is so far up my street I couldn’t miss it off this list.

I’m also totally overexcited about those big nights, where we’re presenting a wide range of work either for free or super cheap, because I just think it’s a great way for people to deep their toe in the performance art water. So look out for Be The Change – late at the Edwardian Tea Room, The Very Fierce Grand Opening and Club Fierce: We Are Fierce.