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Arts institutions combine for new multi-media project

Preparations are currently underway as two of Birmingham’s most iconic arts institutions prepare to join together for a new multi-media event.

Birmingham Repertory Theatre and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra combine their forces next month for the World Première of Cold Calling: The Arctic Project, a unique and captivating live performance piece.

Created and composed by Nick Powell and written and directed by Anthony Neilson, the performance fuses film installation to an original score and dialogue in the setting of Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s newest auditorium The Studio.

Cold Calling: The Arctic Project

Cold Calling: The Arctic Project

Performed by a 20-piece chamber orchestra alongside actors Jan Pearson (Doctors) and Waleed Akhtar (Back Down – Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) the performance is set against a backdrop of beautiful Arctic landscapes as it presents a powerful exploration of love, loneliness and loss.

Nick Powell, musician, composer, music and sound designer, has worked in theatre, television and film including Wolf Hall/Bring Up The Bodies (RSC/West End/Broadway), The King’s Speech (Birmingham Repertory Theatre), Othello (National Theatre) and Dunsinane (RSC).

He said: “When Roxana Silbert took over as Artistic Director of The Rep she wanted to forge stronger links with the CBSO. Jointly, they commissioned me to compose a piece for chamber orchestra which we could expand into a whole performance for orchestra, actors and projection.

“I’ve always been fascinated by the quality of light in the Arctic so I spent ten days in the most northern part of Norway where in summer it never goes dark. Staying in a hut alongside a Fjord I wrote most of the music taking inspiration from nature and what was happening in my life at the time.”

The result promises to be breathtakingly powerful, including as it does elements of the strange and surprising, in a celebration of life and a meditation upon death that takes audiences on an absorbing musical odyssey.

The writer and director of Cold Calling: The Arctic Project Anthony Neilson recently collaborated with Nick Powell on Unreachable (Royal Court). Other theatre credits include Narrative and Relocated at the Royal Court), God In Ruins (Soho Theatre), Realism (National Theatre of Scotland/Edinburgh Lyceum) and The Menu (National Theatre).

Cold Calling: The Arctic Project also features film installation by Simon Wainwright, Artistic Director at imitating the dog (ITD). Simon is a composer, sound and visual artist and video/projection designer as well as a theatre maker and musician. He’s also collaborated on work for the Leeds collective Invisible Flock’s productions Book of Beasts in the Nightimes, Bring the Happy and If you Go Away. He created and produced the video for the UK musical Soul Sister plus the video score for the opera In May written by Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy and A Farewell to Arms (Birmingham Repertory Theatre).

Other members of the creative team are Lighting Designer Chahine Yavroyan and Orchestrator Ian Stephens plus recently appointed CBSO Assistant Conductor Jonathan Bloxham.

Cold Calling: The Arctic Project will receive its World Première at Birmingham Repertory Theatre on September 16 followed by just two more performances on September 17 in The Studio at 2.45pm and 7.45pm with seats priced from £25. For tickets call the box office on 0121 236 4455 or visit

Phil Preece

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