DEADTOWN The Forman Brothers’ Wild West Show comes to REP

Directed by Petr Forman

Thursday 27 – Saturday 29 June
Press Night: Thursday 27 June, 7.30pm

An old fashioned adventure to a new world

For the first time in the UK, the sons of Oscar-winning Milos Forman bring a spectacular cast of 20 acrobats, dancers, singers and musicians to perform a breathtaking Wild West tale. Using an extraordinary mix of film, live action and magic, the Forman brothers move from illusion to reality presenting the Old West in a completely new way in their show, Deadtown at Birmingham Repertory Theatre from 27 – 29 June.

The Forman Brothers are one of the most innovative theatre companies in Europe and this rare opportunity to experience their exhilarating work at Birmingham Repertory Theatre marks the 10th anniversary of BE FESTIVAL – the city’s annual European theatre festival.

It’s the beginning of the twentieth century and a conjuror, illusionist, and owner of a cheap cabaret is living out his dreams in magical Prague. He is obsessed with the technical miracles of his times: film, photography, and the husky sound of the phonograph. Yet his favourite fantasies are those of riding across the plains of Arizona, drinking with weather-beaten gunslingers at a saloon and holding wild and beautiful women in his arms. At least that’s the image he had gleaned from the Wild West silent westerns and yellowed photographs telling stories of a faraway land. And because his life is a constant balancing act between illusion and reality, it is not difficult for him to embark on a journey into the dream world.

Deadtown is a surprising 3D silent film and theatre piece. Screened images function as a stage set and enable the acting company to create a magical reality similar to that of Karel Zeman’s films. In this blend of animation, powerful visual elements, live music, sound effects and the company’s traditional artisnal work with marionettes and the performances of the actors, the Forman Brothers’ Theatre step over the boundaries of optical illusion.

The Forman Brothers’ said:

Apart from old photographs, our image of the Wild West was shaped by silent western films and slapstick comedies. As naïve children from a small Czech town our image of the Wild West was shaped by silent western films.  We believe they live in black and white or soft shades of sepia. And if we happen to have lost this idea by now, that imperfect image still remains close to our theatrical vision. Deadtown oscillates between theatre and silent film.

The Forman Brothers’ Theatre has been one of the most original artistic groups in Czech theatre for over 25 years. With its unconventional approach, working methods and poetics, it still wholly stands apart from the crowd. In addition to brothers Matěj and Petr Forman and a few other permanent members, a new team is put together for each performance, bringing in new energy and skills.

The Forman Brothers’ Theatre doesn’t have its own building or a permanent stage. It creates its performances in specific locations, such as the Mystery Boat or different types of theatre tents.  This accounts for the nomadic way of life that the members of the theatre lead. With their projects, they tour not only the Czech Republic, but the whole of Europe, the USA and Mexico, where they have already staged thousands of shows. They often travel to prestigious venues and festivals, winning them high esteem. Previous shows include a funfair / circus version of Smetana’s The Bartered Bride and Purple Sails – a theatrical adaptation of a fairy tale by Alexander Grin, staged on the Forman Brothers Theatre’s own ship, Tajemství.

BE FESTIVAL is Birmingham’s annual European festival of theatre. Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2019, the festival seeks to uncover Europe’s most exciting emerging artists.

From 27 June – 6 July BE FESTIVAL turns Birmingham Repertory Theatre on its head, transforming the rarely-seen backstage areas into a lively festival hub with cutting edge dance, theatre, circus and visual arts.Birmingham, and the wider world, has changed exponentially since 2010, and this year’s BE FESTIVAL will help reflect on how arts and culture can move forward,  contribute more and challenge the status quo.