When I did my Hippodrome blog you may recall I mentioned Six Summer Saturdays. A fantastic idea and I cannot fault the Hippodrome for trying to fill those summer Saturdays with some culture and theatre – however, and the ‘Hmmm’ in the title probably suggests, I wasn’t that excited or thrilled by what I saw on Saturday when I was in Birmingham.
The main event for the weekend just gone was circus performance and circus skills in Chamberlain Square. Fine, it’s a good idea and parts were great – however when there’s a huge event happening on the adjoining space (Victoria Square) that is seriously outdoing what they’re doing in terms of effort and activities it doesn’t bode well. And sadly I felt deflated and let down by the Hippodrome’s offers on Saturday and I spent most of my time enjoying the music, food and festivities at Jamaica Live – that huge event next to them.
Looking further into these two events they were apparently linked, although Jamaica Live had been arranged by other groups. The one thing linking them was the Olympics Open Weekend. Events were happening across the country to celebrate there being only a year until the start of London 2012. Jamaica Live had the Olympic mascot, Olympic flags and genereally had a huge celebratory atmosphere – it also had a clear link to the Olympics, celebrating the Jamaican team not only for next year but also with a display of replica tobaggan carts used in training for the winter Olympics. I find it very difficult to see what link the Hippodrome’s ‘No Fit Circus’ had with the Olympics. Maybe at a stretch some gymnastics, but apart from that not much else. It seems very much that the Hippodrome were more latching themselves onto a (I’m pesuming) funded event and taking advantage with some strenious (if that) links.
Looking through the programme for this year’s Six Summer Saturdays I’m not impressed. The first event for example was some Jazz music – which, with massive ‘coincidence’ just so happened to fall into Birmingham’s International Jazz Festival. So nothing new of different from what had been happening across Birmingham, nothing unique, nothing that exciting. Poor effort for something to launch a summer of ‘big’ events. Another event they had was using Titan the robot. You’ve seen him on Paul O Grady, in pantos, on other TV shows, on Big Brother and a number of other events – a couple of years back. Where’s the new, exciting, unique and artistic things we’re expecting? Also, to highlight my opinion that the Hippodrome have been jumping onto pre arranged things and hijacking them – the Hippodrome have been promoting ‘Ping!’ which, in fairness they do acknowledge that it’s run by another company, as an event you can do as part of 6SS…. they had nothing to do with them being installed, and if I’m right in thinking, members of the public can use the ping pong tables across the city whenever they want or whenever someone from STK International is present.
To compliment the negative vibes so far, I do have to admit that the events planned for the next few weeks do look better. But when promoting the event ‘Snow in the City’ why do they have to use a picture of the event being held in London?! Make these things seem unique to Birmingham, make them look special, make them look fun and make them look like they belong to the people of Birmingham like the theatre. This year’s 6SS doesn’t seem to have the intregrity and promise that last year’s highly successful one had. Whatever the reason why needs to be addressed as 6SS is a fantastic idea, and needs to be brilliantly executed.