Liberal Arts and Sciences Cultural Programme

Our students experience a range of exciting visits and events.

We bring poets, writers, academics and scientific specialists to speak to you on campus, whilst also organising trips beyond the University to theatres and exhibitions. We hope this will deepen your understanding of the relationship between the University, the wider community, and significant cultural organisations.

Cirque Berserk at The Birmingham REP (photograph: Piet-Hein Out)Cirque Berserk at The Birmingham REP (photograph: Piet-Hein Out)

There have been many events since the Cultural Programme was introduced with an inaugural guest lecture from Mervyn Morris, the Poet Laureate of Jamaica. Highlights have included a performance of Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty, a gothic romantic ballet; Mozart’s opera The Marriage of Figaro performed by the Welsh National Opera; and the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Doctor Faustus.

Ariel in The Tempest at the Royal Shakespeare Company (photograph: Topher McGrillis) Ariel in The Tempest at the Royal Shakespeare Company (photograph: Topher McGrillis)

Cultural Programme 2016-17

The full list of Cultural Programme activities for the 2016-17 academic year is below. We hope this gives you an idea of the exciting and diverse events that you can expect as a Liberal Arts and Sciences student at the University of Birmingham. Some of these events are reviewed by students on our Liberal Arts blog.

October 2016

  • Cymbeline at the Royal Shakespeare Company - Shakespeare’s rarely performed romance of power, jealousy and a journey of love and reconciliation.
  • King Lear at the Royal Shakespeare Company - Gregory Doran directed Antony Sher in one of the greatest parts ever written by Shakespeare.
  • Colour and Vision at the Natural History Museum – Our students followed a 565 million-year journey through the eyes of nature. They uncovered how vision first evolved and how colour in animals suddenly became the difference between life and death. Read our review.
  • Cognitive Decline – organised by Café Culturel, we examined Shakespeare’s capacity to capture and portray the subtleties of behavioural change associated with the cognitive decline characteristic of neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Paradise Lost at the Midlands Arts Centre - A one man staging of Milton’s epic Paradise Lost Combining theatre, comedy and movement.
  • What Shadows at The Birmingham REP - Chris Hannan’s powerful new play takes a searing look at how a politically-divided country moves forward in the wake of a crisis.

November 2016

  • Shazia Mirza: The Kardashians Made Me Do It at the Warwick Arts Centre - Following an acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe run, Shazia Mirza looks into the nature of offence, the dangers of politically correct liberalism and the terrifying intrusion of ISIS into the lives of young British Asian women.
  • Omar – the Liberal Arts and Sciences Film Club presented this story of a Palestinian freedom fighter.
  • Kiss Me Kate at the Birmingham Hippodrome – the Welsh National Opera and Opera’s North perform the comically-intertwined classic musical. Read our review.
  • Coding Workshop – A unique opportunity for Liberal Arts and Sciences students to gain an introduction to coding and the basics of programming.

December 2016

  • The Nutcracker at the Birmingham Hippodrome – the Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of this enchanting winter tale has been a Christmas tradition in the city for over 25 years. 

The Nutcracker performed by the Birmingham Royal Ballet at the Birmingham HippodromeThe Nutcracker performed by the Birmingham Royal Ballet at the Birmingham Hippodrome

January 2017

  • The Tempest at the Royal Shakespeare Company – an afternoon workshop with the director followed by the show itself, a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s classic tale using cutting-edge technology. Read our review.
  • Cardboard Citizens: Cathy at the Midlands Arts Centre - a timely reflection on the social and personal impact of spiralling housing costs, gentrification and the challenges of the forced relocation away from London. Read our review.
  • Making a Murderer's Dean Strange and Jerry Buting at the Birmingham Town Hall – the defence attorneys for Steven Avery in the Netflix docuseries speak on the criminal justice system in the United States.

February 2017

  • Angela Hewitt plays Bach at the Birmingham Town Hall – our students enjoyed all six of Bach’s French Suites in one extraordinary evening. Read our review.
  • Sublime Symmetry Exhibition at the New Walk Gallery – a look at the work of William De Morgan, the most intriguing and inventive ceramic designer of the late Victorian period.
  • A Brief History Of Music at The Core Theatre – an exciting and bewildering journey through 600 years of musical history in 90 minutes. Read our review.
  • Cirque Berserk at The Birmingham REP - combining contemporary cirque-style artistry with adrenaline-fuelled stunt action, this astoundingly talented international troupe includes over thirty jugglers, acrobats, aerialists, dancers, drummers, death-defying stuntmen and of course the award-winning clown, Tweedy. Read our review.
  • James Wilton Dance: Leviathan at the Midlands Arts Centre - Leviathan follows Ahab, a ship captain hell-bent on capturing the white whale, Moby, with a blend of athletic dance, martial arts, capoeira and partner-work, not to mention an electro-rock soundtrack. Read our review.

March 2017

  • Amina Khayyam Dance: A Thousand Faces at the Midlands Arts Centre - A bold dance-theatre that features Amina Khayyam collaborating European mime movements with Kathak’s intricate and detailed theatrical gestures of abhinaya.
  • Banff Mountain Film Festival at the Birmingham Town Hall - Experience an extraordinary collection of short films from the world's most prestigious mountain film festival. Read our review.
  • Amédée at The Birmingham REP - Leading British playwright, director and comedian Sean Foley brings Ionesco's surreal comedy to life in his sharp and finely-tuned new adaptation. Read our review.
  • The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection at The Tate Modern, London – A rare opportunity to see one of the world’s greatest private collections of photography, drawn from the classic modernist period of the 1920s–50s.
  • Making Nature: How We See Animals Exhibition at The Wellcome Collection, London – This collection brings together over 100 fascinating objects from literature, film, taxidermy and photography to reveal the hierarchies in our view of the natural world and consider how these influence our actions, or inactions, towards the planet.
  • Just Call Me God: The Final Speech of a Dictator at the Symphony Hall - John Malkovich stands alone against the mighty Symphony Hall organ in this powerful one-man journey to the point where absolute power corrupts absolutely. 

What Shadows at The Birmingham REP (photograph: Ellie Kurttz)What Shadows at The Birmingham REP (photograph: Ellie Kurttz)

Future events

Students are invited to suggest events themselves, so future Cultural Programme activities may encompass your own personal passions and intellectual pursuits.

Distinguished Lectures

We also organise events open to the public, including our Distinguished Lecture series.