A local poet and playwright is to appear at the Lichfield Arts Fuse Festival on Sunday 10th July with words he wrote about Birmingham. The play, “Coming To Birmingham: Making Of a Modern City”, has been in script development since April and has already appeared in the Walsall Festival of Words, Radio Public Festival and Black Country Festival.
“The first draft of the play ” explained playwright Ian Henery “came in at 43,000 words. This is 23,000 words too long. In fact the original version is more than twice as long as required. Modern audiences do not sit through any drama that`s more than 2 and a half hours long. Shakespeare`s Macbeth is 30,000 words and that`s 3 hours. I had to reduce my script down to 20,000 words. It`s what we call “killing our darlings”. Only then could I pitch the play to Birmingham theatre companies and Arts Council England for funding.
In the play there is a scene set in China 1942 on a farm in Guangdong Province during the Japanese Occupation and the Chinese Civil War. A farmer and his wife were re-enacting the Chinese Creation Myth. “I had to cut that from the script but I was lucky to be able to recycle it for street theatre. I have been fortunate enough to work with a group of outstanding young actors of Chinese heritage. We are performing this scene as street theatre on Saturday 9th July for the Black Country Festival with Dudley Chinese Community Association, Black Country Radio and A Comedy Theatre Group”. Another way of cutting down the script was to remove the poetry Ian had written as part of the play. Ian will be performing some of the poetry on stage with Word Stafford and Mel Wardle Woodend, the Staffordshire Poet Laureate, between 2.30pm – 4pm on Sunday 10th July at the Lichfield Arts Fuse Festival.
“It`s awesome to be able to do 2 festivals back to back in a weekend featuring material written for a play about Birmingham” said Ian Henery. Ian`s play is the second in a trilogy commissioned by China West Midlands and the Chinese Community Centre in Birmingham. The first play, “The Chinese Labour Corps”, had a successful week-long run at The Blue Orange Theatre in Birmingham and featured as part of the Chinese New Year Festival Online 2022.
The play, written by Ian, was funded by Arts Council England.
The Lichfield Arts Fuse Festival is in Beacon Park between Friday 8th to Sunday 10th July and is free entry. The Festival offers a wide range of live music, workshops, activities and participatory opportunities for all the family.