The BE Festival aims high and does not relent in its quality, with a multitude of theatrical experiences available to the audience member with excellent value for money. With four or five shows a night, showcasing the best and brightest of available European talent, the festival draws full houses and lively discussions throughout its run.
This year it featured beautiful site-specific performances, hilarious slapstick and circus comedy, and dance and drama from across Europe, bringing back the previous winners – Teatro Sotteranneo – with a BE Legend! performance, and introducing both brand new and unseen performances, alongside those still under construction, and those which will develop further and be premiered next year. It was a privilege to watch, and amazing to be a part of the process, by providing feedback and thoughts not only at the feedback cafés, which ran daily, but in ways as simple as filling in the production postcards and marking our favourites with a star.
The festival set-up is lovely, too, working in conjunction with Birmingham REP and the AE Harris building, there is plenty of space and a huge amount to experience over the week, which does not disappoint in its variety. From the shortest performances, such as (remor), which ran at only 11 minutes, to the beautiful Observe how Tiredness Defeats the Thought, in which an amateur basketball game played out to a philosophical soundtrack, there was something for everybody in the audience to enjoy every night. Even if one show was not one’s cup of tea, the next would be a pleasant surprise.
The post-show entertainment was fantastic too, with great music and an excellent array of bar services – the evening meals provided in the ticket were definitely worth a mention – feeding an entire auditorium’s worth of people from a small tent is a feat which deserves immense praise, especially because the meals were not just good but delicious, and the group dining set-up let everyone discuss not only the performances going on around them, but to familiarise themselves with the people – further proof that the BE Festival is not just internationally centred, but centred on creating a community feel which allows everyone to feel at home and experience something which is potentially out of their comfort zone without feeling excluded.
BE is a festival which often flies under the radar, but should be lauded for its daring programme and love of the abstract, the entertaining and the community spirit it brings. Each night is different and exciting, and the programme is packed with variation, and something for everyone to enjoy.
Read the full coverage from BE Festival on AYT, or see the BE Festival website for further information and for next year’s festival.