Fierce, the Birmingham biennial festival of international performance, has today announced the programme for 2022 – it marks the biggest programme ever for Fierce, celebrating the Festival’s 25th anniversary. The programme welcomes international artists from Tokyo to Rio de Janiro as well as from the West Midlands. It embraces the outlandish and the new, presenting over 20 fresh and feisty productions of the kind that the Festival has become acclaimed for.
The 25th anniversary festival will stage incredible works in unusual places. Fierce 2022 will explore themes including First Nations politics, non-human perspectives, rituals of cleaning and healing and gender identity. Through a line-up of joyful, compelling and subversive World and UK Premieres, the festival will highlight new performance practice from around the world, with UK debut performances by many acclaimed international artists as well as unveiling a number of very special homegrown Fierce commissions. The programme brings together a diverse range of artists and voices from around the world, united by their radical, insightful and political approaches to creating art. A Festival that has been promoting Birmingham and the region across the world as a vibrant, diverse and tolerant place for the last quarter of a century, they consistently push boundaries and bring work to the West Midlands that is at the forefront of the international creative world, providing a fresh and feisty voice for the city.
The announcement of the 25th anniversary Festival programme comes in one of the most ambitious years yet for Fierce, the company having produced two major projects at Birmingham Festival 2022 this summer. Key To The City reached over 50,000 people and gave citizens new encounters across their city and the Healing Gardens of Bab brought queer artists from all over the Commonwealth to the West Midlands to interrogate thier relationships with the British Empire during the Commonwealth Games.
Artistic Director of Fierce Aaron Wright says:
The enfant terrible of the British Festival scene may well be coming of age, but we’re thoroughly refusing to grow up!It’s already been a huge 25th anniversary year for Fierce, but we still have our biggest programme to come. Postponed from 2021, this programme has been three years in the making and represents some of the most exciting performance being made in the world today. We can’t wait to bring this world class programme to audiences across the West Midlands.
PROGRAMME HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE:
- ART MEETS LIFE IN A FOREST OF REAL AND FAKE WOOD AS ARTISTS AND LOVERS ROSANA CADE AND IVOR MACASKILL’S AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL EXPERIENCE OF GENDER TRANSITION MEETS THE MAGICAL STORY OF A LITTLE PUPPET WHO WANTS TO BE A ‘REAL BOY’ IN THE MAKING OF PINOCCHIO, DIRECT FROM IT’S HUGE SUCCESS AT LONDON INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF THEATRE
- FROM THE FAVELAS OF BRAZIL, CHOREOGRAPHER ALICE RIPOLL & CIA REC USE BUCKETS, WATER AND SOAP ON STAGE IN THE UK PREMIERE OF LAVAGEM EXPLORING THE ACTION OF CLEANING AS A PERFORMATIVE AND POLITICAL GESTURE. PRESENTED IN COLLABORATION WITH GHENT BASED AGENCY ART HAPPENS, IT FORMS PART OF A FLANDERS FOCUS SHOWING WORK CREATED IN THE DUTCH SPEAKING REGION OF BELGIUM, ALSO FEATURING PERFORMANCE BY LISA VEREERTBRUGGHEN (GHENT) & FRANCESCA GRILLI (BRUSSELS)
- WORLD-RENOWNED FRENCH DIRECTOR PHILIPPE QUESNE CREATES AN ABSURDLY CHARMING UNIVERSE IN THE UK PREMIERE OF HIS POST-APOCALYPTIC FARM FATALEWHERE FIVE SCARECROWS, WHO HAVING LOST THEIR ORIGINAL JOBS DUE TO CLIMATE CHANGE, COME TOGETHER IN A COMMUNE
- TRANSGRESSIVE DRAG FROG OOZING GLOOP BRINGS HER FAE-LIKE, GENDER-NON-CONFORMING, NEURODIVERGENT DRAG ARTIST FRIENDS TO FIERCE FOR THE WORLD PREMIERE OF TENTACULAR SPECTACULAR – A MULTI-SENSORY, PSYCHOSEXUAL INSTALLATION OF SWAMPY PERFORMANCES WITH SET DESIGN BY JENKIN VAN ZYL. TENTACULAR SPECTACULAR IS A FIERCE FURTHER: JERWOOD COMMISSION.
- FIERCE CELEBRATE THE END OF THEIR QUARTER CENTURY FESTIVAL WITH CLUB FIERCE: THE HO DOWN, A STRANGE BARN DANCE COUNTRY FETEFEATURING ICONIC JAPANESE ARTIST SAEBORG WHO PRESENTS PIG PEN WHERE A TRUCK-SIZED INFLATABLE LATEX PIG BIRTHS HUMANOID PIGLETS
- BIRMINGHAM ARTIST DEMI NANDHRA PRESENTS THE WORLD PREMIERE OF THE TRAUMA SHOW. THE SHOW IS INSPIRED BY DEMI’S JOURNEY TO HEAL FROM TRAUMA AND EXPLORES THE IMPACTS OF CHILDHOOD, ‘THERAPISE’ CULTURE AND HOW TIKTOK COULD POSSIBLY HEAL US ALL~
- A TRIO OF THOUGHTFUL & PLAYFUL WORKS FROM SCANDINAVIA INCLUDING THE CANDID AND JOYOUS TEENAGE SONGBOOK OF LOVE & SEX FROM ICELAND, WOLF SAFARI FROM FINLAND WHERE AUDIENCES LEARN THE BEHAVIOURAL TRAITS OF WOLVES, AND RADIO III AN INDIGNEOUS FUTURISTIC CONCERT PRODUCED BY MDT, SWEDEN
The 25th anniversary festival begins with the UK premiere of world-renowned French director Philippe Quesne’s (Paris)Farm Fatale – a post-apocalyptic scenario in the not-so-distant future: five scarecrows, who have lost their original jobs due to climate change, come together in a commune. These disarmingly funny characters, though, are undeterred by the difficult conditions: the dying sounds of nature are meticulously recorded for posterity; demonstration signs and slogans are prepared; pop music is blown into the airwaves via pirate radio; insect deaths and pesticides are discussed. With Farm Fatale, Quesne, celebrated for his hybrid, strikingly visual performances, envisions an absurdly charming universe, inhabited by gentle dreamers and activists with a penchant for laconic commentary. Farm Fatale runs at Warwick Arts Centre on 11 October.
Following previous appearances at Fierce including as Double Pussy Clit F*ck in 2017 and with hit show Moot Moot in 2020, Cade & MacAskill (Glasgow) return to Birmingham with their new Fierce commissioned show The Making of Pinocchio, a new trans version of the famous tale on 13 & 14 October. Artists and lovers Rosana Cade and Ivor MacAskill have set the production in a film studio, where it follows a fantastical journey in response to Ivor’s gender transition. Running atMidlands Arts Centre, The Making of Pinocchio had its London premiere as part of LIFT 2022.A Fierce, LIFT, BAC and Artsadmin co-commission.
Alice Ripoll & Cia REC (Rio de Janeiro) present the UK Premiere of Lavagem on 15 & 16 October at Midland Arts Centre. Portuguese for “washing” Lavagem uses buckets, water & soap to explore the action of cleaning as a performative and political gesture. The performers, who grew up in the favelas in Brazil where their mothers and grandmothers worked as cleaners, ask questions about what actually needs to be cleaned – the buildings we live in or the sophisticated structures we’ve come to live by. Presented in collaboration with Ghent based Art Happens, Lavagem is part of Fierce’s Flanders Focus strand – work made in the Flanders region of Belgium, generously supported by Flanders House.
In 2022 Fierce welcomes backtransgressive drag frog Oozing Gloop and her many fae-like, gender-non-conforming, neurodivergent drag artist friends including Shrek666, Olympia Bukkakis and more for the World Premiere of the Fierce commission Tentacular Spectacular (Berlin/Norwich) on 13 & 14 October at 7SVN. Audiences are invited to slide into a multi-sensory, psychosexual swamp to be amazed, appalled and enthralled at this installation of performances for a new anthropomorphic age… expect goblins and frog-memes from this new swamp-core production. Tentacular Spectacular is a Fierce Further: Jerwood Commission.
On 15 October as the Festival draws to a close Fierce celebrate their quarter century with Club Fierce: Big Fat 25th Birthday Ho Down! at 7SVN. The night features performances from Saeborg (Tokyo), Soya the Cow (Zurich), Pink Suits (Margate) and is hosted by Yshee Black (Birmingham). Iconic Japanese artist Saeborg was the most requested artist in our annual audience survey. Fierce will bring her work Pig Pen to Birmingham. Acclaimed on the underground Tokyo club scene, at famed fetish nights such as Department H, her inflatable latex rubber suits and sculptures are completely unique. Playfully twisted, the sleazy, shiny, squeaking, anthropomorphic pigs are crossbreeds between BDSM and animal-costumed PETA protesters. Pig Pen is presented with support from the Daiwa Foundation and The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and working in collaboration with Submerge Festival and the University of Sheffield.
At Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Demi Nandhra (Birmingham) presents the World Premiere of The Trauma Showexploring how trauma manifests in our bodies and consequently our everyday lives. Self proclaimed ‘‘trauma-obsessive’’ Nandhra’s show explores her journey to heal from trauma, the impacts of adverse childhoods, making a show and dance out of it, mourning our little selves, ‘therapise’ culture and how TikTok could possibly heal us all. Commissioned by In Good Company (mid-career commission), Cambridge Junction, Contact Theatre and Battersea Arts Centre, in association with Fierce Festival. The Trauma Show runs 12 and 13 October.
Other Spaces present their nocturnal wandering performance, Wolf Safari, where participants encounter the city from the perspective of a wild, social predator, the wolf – one of the most socially developed and organised creatures and one of the most hated animals. An extended collective exercise where participants will howl in the night, search each other, create a pack and go hunting for an animal of prey. Wolf Safari runs 12 – 14 October. Location will be revealed to ticket bookers.
The World Premiere of the Fierce commission Freddie Wulf’s we are all made of stars is a journey through the body as a living landscape – an ecosystem constantly in flux – inspired by the belief that matter itself has a vitality and life of its own. Performing in a bathtub, Wulf works with live sound score artist Alicia Jane Turner and uses a borescope camera to explore the close-up textures of body, water, and plant. creating a cosmic landscape that celebrates transmasculine beauty and sex positivity.we are all made of starsruns at Midlands Arts Centre on 14 & 15 October and is a Fierce Further: Jerwood Commission co-commissioned by ACCA.
Clara Furey (Montreal) presents the UK Premiere of DOG RISING at The Crescent Theatre on Thursday 13th October. Dance production DOG RISING invites audiences to embark on an extreme journey – a mesmerising, haunting spiral mirroring the life cycle and the flow of matter. Winnie Ho and Be Heintzman Hope join Furey and the three dancers are in constant action and reaction to each other, performing an endless repetition of cyclical gestures to an electro-acoustic musical score by long-time collaborator (and brother) Tomas Furey.
On 12 & 13 October Simone Aughterlony (Zurich/Berlin) presents the UK Premiere of Remaining Strangersat Warwick Arts Centre. In this new piece using only foldable chairs and microphones, the artists Jen Rosenblit and Nic Lloyd, together with the musician Hahn Rowe host an ever-changing event, welcoming their guests, involving them in recognizable social situations and ultimately highlighting the infinite differences and limitations between people.The performances build imaginative and viable strate-gies for relations with others that can hold estrangement, strangeness and intimacy beyond assimilating or consuming the other. This is Aughterlony’s third appearance at the festival.
Fierce presents the UK Premiere of The Golden Age by Igor Cardellini and Tomas Gonzalez’s (Lausanne). Taking the form of a walking tour through an archaeological site, in this case Bullring & Grand Central shopping centre, the piece examines the dawn of the 21st century ‘Golden Age’ and the utopia of endless abundance accessible to everyone. Starting with the architecture of the Bullring, the public will be invited to walk through the spaces and the models of organisation, circulation and scenography that they are built upon. The Golden Age runs 14-16 October.
After visa complications prevented their appearance with Fierce in July, we are proud to try again and we look forward to welcoming crazinisT artisT from Accra (Ghana) for a performance called Kall to Healing which will take place in the First Floor Gallery at Midlands Arts Centre on Friday 14th October. In the performance using sage and hot water, the artist invites the audience to join a ritual as an intimate encounter, communal solidarity and an opportunity to reflect on their own wounds.
Another UK Premiere is presented by Elisa Harkins, Zoë Poluch, Hanako Hoshimi-Caines (Tulsa, Montreal, Stockholm) on 15 October at Patrick Studio. The artists first collaboration, RADIO III / ᎦᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᏦᎢ is an indigenous futuristic concert and a beautiful and uncomfortable dance performance. The collaboration combines disco and Indigenous languages in an effort to alter the fate of these endangered languages through active use, preservation on pressed vinyl, and radio play. Radio III / ᎦᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᏦᎢ features songs by Elisa Harkins, some of which are in Cherokee and Muscogee (Creek).
On 16 October Fierce presents Cherish Menzo’s JEZEBEL (Holland), a fierce dance performance inspired by the Video Vixens: provocative female models that appeared in hip-hop videos on MTV in the late 1990s. Vixens danced scantily dressed to men’s music but were hyper-sensual, strong and independent. The influence these dancers exercised was often great, determining the aesthetic of the videos they took part in and so the popularity of the artist. A deconstruction of the controversial stereotype of the Vixen. JEZEBEL asks what a black hip-hop honey would look like in 2019? The show comes direct from a run at Battersea Arts Centre.
The UK Premiere of dance piece Softcore – A Hardcore Encounter about hardcore techno subgenre ‘Gabber’ by the Belgian artsist Lisa Vereertbrugghen (Ghent) takes place on 12 & 14 October at Patrick Studio. At 200 beats per minute Gabber has been described as techno on speed and rave gone crazy. Vereertbrugghen has conducted an extensive examination into this form of club music over several years and explores the term hardcore with regard to the transformation, vulnerability, possibility and unpredictability that is concealed behind its stubborn convulsions and twitches. Part of the Flanders Focus.
Francesca Grilli’s(Brussels) UK Premiere of Sparkscreates a space where the usual power relationships between child and adult are inverted. As audiences enter the space, they will encounter a group of local children who have studied palmistry and the art of divination, becoming oracles – the bearers of mystical knowledge and wielders of magical powers. The community of oracles hide their faces behind masks and tell the adults their destinies, the adult audience, likely for the first time, will be completely surrendered to the children. Sparks runs 15 & 16 October, at Moseley Road Baths. Part of the Flanders Focus.
There is a European Premiere from Jesus Hilario-Reyes (New York City) on 16 October at Moseley Road Baths. Hilario-Reyes continues an iterative series that began in 2018 with their latest production, Akin to the Hurricane. The project began as an Instagram/Facebook live take over and progressed to this impromptu sound performance.The piece is heavily influenced by the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower Diptych, it utilises the symbolic space of the hurricane alongside sonic disruption to question ideas of sovereignty and belonging.
Rosie Gibbens, an artist who primarily makes performances, videos and sculptures that feature her body, presents Skin of my Teeth. Through her work, Gibbens magnifies elements of contemporary life which seem absurd to her, looking at the world as though she were an alien visitor, attempting but not quite managing to conform. She engages with the way that young female bodies are often used as a landscape on which desire for commodities are constructed and her observations often focus on gender performativity, sexual politics, consumerist culture, and their overlaps. Created for the First Floor Gallery at Midlands Arts Centre on 16 October.
Fierce CommissionPeaked too Soon by Birmingham artist Liz Ord In this performance Liz relives the glazed moments of ecstasy working as a fashion model and tries to style out the inevitable prevailing silence. Celebrity voyeurism, tantrums turned memes, cigarette break chic. Screenshot the anguish and calling it a #MondayMood. “Maybe you peaked too soon?”
Birmingham born performance artist Jade Blackstock (Catania)presentsa new performanceon 15 October at Midlands Arts Centre. Jade’s work explores conversations between inner/outer, bodily/material worlds, and how these are informed by historical, cultural and personal memory/movements. She looks at Black ancestral traditions, myths and materiality that articulate and interrogate ongoing colonial systems, and manifest and develop within Black diasporic contexts. She seeks to highlight how the body, material and space have shared capabilities of transferring and embodying collective memory. Themes of race, feminism, ownership, class and loss are present in her work.
enormousface (New York City/Autonomous Cascadia) will be in residence at the festival as part of an ongoing enquiry called Nothing Is Also Possible: An Exploration of Garbage and the Void. enormousface is most well known as an avant-garde NYC subway performer, and once made the cover of New York magazine. They arrive in Birmingham to interrogate the city’s relationship to garbage. Through a series of workshops, abstract puppet shows and interventions the artist highlights the origins of garbage as objects that have suffered the alchemy of human intervention – transforming first from living to dead (e.g. dinosaurs to petrol) and then from valuable to unwanted (e.g. gasoline to carbon) – moving from deep intimacy with humans to a state of ghettoization. Various times and locations across the week to be announced.
In collaboration with B:Music a special free concert by Luca Manning Trio takes place on Friday 14 October. Luca Manning is an artist who questions rigidity. Shaped initially by the buzzing Glasgow music and arts scene, Luca now finds their heart stolen by all that East London has to offer. Luca is a resident artist at London’s iconic Roundhouse where they are continually expanding their practice allowing them to create transdisciplinary work that offers an immersive experience for the audience. Luca will be joined by musicians Xhosa Cole & Jamie Safir
The programme announced today joins the already running SaVAge K’lubroom byZealand/Aotearoa collective the SaVAge K’lubat Birmingham Museum. Presented in a secretive corner of Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, the installation reclaims the gentlemen’s clubs of the same name first established in London in the 19th century and poses the question: ‘what might it mean to be a savage today?’ On Friday 14th October the SaVAge K’lub collective will present a very special Late at the Museum event with performances and activations all over the Museum.
A programme of talks and workshops will follow.