Author Archives: cbulford

  1. Introducing our Autumn Performance Programme for 2022!

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    Welcome to a brand new season of Theatre & Performance at Exeter Phoenix!

    Our autumn programme of Theatre is full to the brim with cutting-edge dance, poetry and family fun from award-winning directors, writers and theatre companies. There really is something for everyone in our theatre programme and we can’t wait for you to come and join us for another season at Exeter Phoenix.

    There’ll be metamorphic soundscapes, explorations of the knife-edge of hoarding witchcraft that’s helping to dismantle the patriarchy and even dancing dinosaurs fuelled by rock’n’roll.

    We’ve got scratch nights and work-in progress performances to come too, a chance for you to test your ideas and help to shape the future of theatre in Exeter!

    Keep reading to discover what’s on in our Autumn performance programme.


    Icarus’ blistering, magical and award-winning production of Eugene Ionesco’s classic dark comedy returns to the stage.


    A new collaboration between Jane Mason and Grace Surman who have made work for 25 years in contemporary performance, but have only just met.


    Breathless is a funny, honest and stylish exploration of the knife-edge of hoarding, from the joy to the addiction and suffocating shame.


    Set against a backdrop of a nation that continues to bask in the light of its colonial legacy, hooked on profits despite the costs, White Sun collides with the past in the here and now of a human nervous system.


    Johan Svensson and Magdi Saleh, theatre practitioners from Sweden, map their own queer histories as they talk about Teater Dictat, working in the Swedish theatre industry, retelling the British canon abroad and exporting the Swedish canon internationally. 


    Fanboy is a love-hate letter to pop culture and nostalgia


    Growth of the Silk is an operatic fairy-tale of a woman, her crushing pressure to fit into the world’s social structure and her wish to escape them.


    Growth of the Silk is an operatic fairy-tale of a woman, her crushing pressure to fit into the world’s social structure and her wish to escape them.


    One small step for man, one giant pile of rubbish left behind! Man’s dream to reach the stars leaves the world in ruins and disturbs the sleeping dinosaurs. Will they wake up and save planet Earth?


     Gritty dance theatre, with autobiographical testimonials and text, this timely performance gives voice to the vulnerable and unheard. With tenderness and honesty, DROWNTOWN holds up a mirror to a society at tipping point.


    Daytime Deewane, by Azan Ahmed, is the latest production from Half Moon, the UK’s leading small-scale young people’s venue and touring company, winner of two Off West End Theatre awards for Best Production for Young People Age 13+ (Crowded and What Once Was Ours).

  2. Introducing Die Twice: The New Generation of the Exeter Music Scene

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    They’ve only been a band for 9 months, but the hype that indie/rock 5 piece Die Twice have already amassed proves that they’ll be going places. We’re just glad that we’re front row for it!

    Ahead of their headline show with us on Fri 22 July, we caught up with frontman Olly Bayton to find out a little bit more about Die Twice, what it means to be an up and coming musician and their thoughts on how independent venues can help leverage careers in music.

    Tell us a bit about Die Twice?

    Before our recent member Fig joined the band, we we’re originally called Nebula, then while creating more music we went by a few more names before settling with Die Twice. It’s genuinely hard to describe us as a certain genre as we love all types of music and try to make our music as versatile as it can be. But genres we are most inspired by are Blues, Jazz, Latin, Funk, Reggae, Rock and Hip Hop. We’ve been a band for about 8-9 months and been gigging for 7 and the support we’ve had in so little time is mind blowing.


    Who are the band members and who plays what?

    Die Twice is Olly Bayton (Vocals,Songwriter) Zee (Rhythm Guitar, Vocals, Songwriter) Blue  (Bass) Remi  (Lead Guitar) and Fig (Drummer).

    Die Twice 2

    How did you guys meet?

    We all mainly met in first year college as four members took a Music Performance Course at Exeter College and Olly met Fig through mutual friends at a forest. Fig and Olly would spend hours jamming drums and guitar in Figs garage in the early days of the band. As soon as there was an opening for him to join the band he got right in.


    Has any music inspired you lately?

    Honestly it can change every week, but recently we’ve been experimenting with gypsy jazz tunes inspired by Django Rienhart and Adrien Moignard but we’ve been previously inspired by The Doors, Arctic Monkeys, Koop, King Krule, Jimi Hendrix, The Police, Tommy Petty, Fela Kuti and many many more…


    Do you think independent venues such as Exeter Phoenix are vital for an early career musician or band? If so, how?

    Most definitely. Playing at independent venues feels a lot more exciting, personal and substantial for our band. It makes us feel like we are part of something important and we really feel the support from everyone involved. It’s definitely vital as it gives us comfortability on stage and in the venue in general.


    Do you think Exeter Phoenix have helped Die Twice to move forward?  Has it led to any exciting opportunities?

    So so so so much! Exeter Phoenix has given us so much support and countless opportunities. We had our first ever gig there in November last year, and since then we can’t get enough of it. Our Phoenix gigs are milestones in our early career as a band. Every gig we have done there has been exciting, busy, so much fun and has boosted our name so high. Exeter Phoenix gave us our voice.


    Is there any new music from Die Twice that we should listen out for?

    Yes yes yes! We are constantly developing our sound and writing new songs. There may be a little bit of recording going on in the next few weeks with a pretty big name as well…

    We have loads of gigs lined up for this summer and planning on making a little tour out of it called ‘Tour De Twice’ with gigs all over Devon and up and down the country!  We’ve been laying low for a while due to work, holidays and all that bollocks, but when we’re back, you’ll know x


    How can we listen to your music?

    You can listen to our tunes on all the major streaming platforms (Spotify, Apple Music etc) and we also have a YouTube channel (Die Twice) with a music video and a live set of our third gig at the Phoenix, which is definitely worth the watch. We also have an Instagram (Dietwice__) which shows all our gigs, songs and some beautiful pictures of our band members!

    Catch Die Twice at Exeter Phoenix on Fri 22 July, along with indie 4 piece Colour TV, Idol Giants who are fresh from playing Ocean Fest in North Devon, and solo artists Wes Chamberlain.

    Get your tickets here >>

  3. Summer 2022 at Exeter Phoenix

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    The sun is out, the Summer Holidays are in sight and our programme for July & August is packed with a variety of live music, independent cinema, art, theatre, comedy and creative courses, all under one roof!

    Discover our Summer Programme with activities and events for all kinds of interests, tastes, ages and abilities.



    10 – 13 AUG

    We’ll be celebrating four nights of outdoor cinema with a line-up of new, old, cult and classic films, including Honey I Shrunk the Kids, The French Dispatch, No Time to Die and Back to the Future.


    Join us this Summer for a stellar line up of films from all corners of surf culture, exploring big waves, exotic locations, surf heritage and the power of change.

    An audience sat in a cinema clapping


    This Summer, you’ll find the latest independent releases alongside the best of international cinema and eye-opening documentary, handpicked by people who are passionate about film


    An image of two performers on a beach. A female performer is hitting a drum. A male performer is playing guitar and shouting,


    Fri 29 Jul – Thu 4 Aug

    Welcome to a sizzling season of outdoor theatre and performance in Rougemont Gardens!

    Join us for a classic Shakespeare comedy, an epic seaside tale gig-theatre show and an interactive art-heist mission for all the family.


    Mon 15 Aug – Fri 19 Aug

    Ages: 7-11

    Come and create your very own performance inspired by the classic tale of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe with Paddleboat Theatre!

    Learn drama skills, make new friends and work with PaddleBoat to create a magical world behind the wardrobe… what will you discover?



    Sat 9 July – Sun 4 Sep

    Cover Versions is a group exhibition curated by brothers Anthony and Graham Dolphin exploring notions of the original and its copies, echoes and mutations in art, film and music.


    Tue 28 June – Mon 1 Aug

    An exhibition by the young people who attend Exeter Phoenix’s youth art groups Freefall and Freefall+



    Wed 27 July – Thu 25 Aug

    This August, we’ve teamed up with Positive Lights Projects to create the Summer Art Camp.

    A whole month of workshops for all ages, art classes, studio socials, ‘inspired by’ sessions artist’s film screenings and so much more.


    Mon 1 Aug – Fri 5 Aug

    Ages 10 – 14

    This week long workshop offers the chance to work with skilled filmmakers to create an amazing short film from scratch in just one week!


    Lead from villagers is standing in front of camera in yellow jacket with head tilted


    From world renowned artists to new and local musicians, our music programme is bursting at the seams with events that you can sink your teeth in to. We also host DJ nights in our café bar and on the terrace! Discover music at Exeter Phoenix this Summer.

  4. Exeter Fringe Festival – What’s Next?

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    Save the date - Sunday 23rd October 2022.  

    Having relaunched Exeter Fringe Festival in 2019, Alex & Elaine have recently decided to step away from running future festivals. With so many Devon-based artists and companies looking for the kind of development and performance opportunities that the Fringe had started to offer, a group of Exeter-based arts organisations has come together to make a smaller Fringe event happen later this year, and to host a gathering, open to anyone involved or interested in theatre and performance in Exeter, to discuss the future of the Exeter Fringe and what we can do to continue to support performance artists based in the city.

    We’re hosting a day of work-in progress performances at Exeter Phoenix on Sunday 23rd October 2022, the culmination of a week of residencies for Devon-based artists hosted by Exeter Library, Exeter Northcott Theatre, Exeter Phoenix, Kaleider, MakeTank, Exeter College, The Hall and Theatre Alibi –  tap here for the call-out & application guide  to apply for one of these spaces.

    After the sharing, we’re delighted that Performance-in-Exeter will be hosting a discussion on the future of Exeter Fringe, which we hope will provide the building blocks for future events.

    Full details of the event will be released in the coming months.

    Photo: South West Theatre Photography for Exeter Fringe Festival 2021

  5. Have your say & win some prizes with Spork!

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    Spork! want to hear from you!

    Spork! are a spoken-word organisation based in Exeter, creating regular live poetry events, workshops & artists support. Whether you've been to a Spork! event before or not, they'd love to hear your thoughts on how they can improve what they do & what you want to see in future.

    Fill out the short survey below and you'll enter a prize draw to win some free tickets to Rob Auton + Support on July 21st, and some Spork! merchandise.


  6. Spork! Artist Drop in Sessions for Spoken Word Artist’s & Poets

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    Are you a spoken-word artist or poet living in Devon? Are you looking to develop your career and creative practice? Want to talk about funding, or how to get more gigs?

    Spork! are holding a free artist drop-in session at Exeter Phoenix with Lead Producer Chris White. Open to all, regardless of age or experience. Whether you have a particular idea in development, a funding bid you want to improve, or want some general advice, come and have a chat & a cuppa, in person or on Zoom.

    To book your 30 min session, email chris at

  7. Meet our first Associate Artist of 2022: Charlotte Johnson (Nèe Evans)

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    We're elated to reveal Exeter Phoenix's first associate artist of 2022, Charlotte Evans.

    We work with our associate artists to develop a bespoke package of support. This could include training, mentoring, access to rehearsal space, advice sessions, and opportunities to perform or share their work with our audiences. Read on to find out more about Charlotte, what she does and her favourite pasta shape.

    Charlotte is a rising star of the stand-up comedy world. She likes reality TV and finds politics boring - which can be tricky when your family is practically the UK's answer to the Kennedys!

    In her debut show, Charlotte avoids talking about family politics in favour of rewriting her own story - pausing only briefly to explain why she's the Kim of her siblings...she's unsure of who would be Khloe or Kourt as she hasn't met all 6 or 7 or 8 (?) of them yet.

    Originally commissioned as an audio mockumentary as part of the BBC New Creatives Scheme, My Dad and Other Lies has been developed with support from the Northcott Theatre, Exeter Phoenix and Pleasance Futures.

    Catch 'My Dad and Other Lies' at this years Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Get your tickets here >> 

    Who are you?

    At the moment, I am Charlotte Johnson. Pre 2020, I was Charlotte Evans, but this wasn’t working for me professionally so I decided to become Charlotte Johnson.

    What do you do?

    I make stuff. Theatre, comedy, a big mess.

    Why do you like Exeter Phoenix?

    Everyone is really quite nice and they give me lots of support with various projects and will always say YES to stuff. (within reason)

    Why do you like Exeter?

    It’s actually much warmer than most of the country and you rarely need to wear a big coat. I moved here from Yorkshire so I’m quite grateful for this. Also, it’s much better than London as an early career artist - doors are always open, people are free for a chat, and there’s lots of space and time to make work because you don’t have to work three jobs and have a sugar daddy just to afford rent.

    I stayed here after uni, when i worked at the Bike Shed and have been given so many opportunities to FAIL, which has been super important to me.

    What do you do with yourself when you’re not making work?

    Usually watching The Kardashians or listening to a Guardian Long Read. I contain multitudes which makes me incredibly self-aware and down to earth.

    How did you get here? 

    I did an Access to Higher Education course with the National Youth Theatre when I was 19 and came to Exeter on a whim without ever having visited. To my surprise, it was MUCH smaller than London and I spent a year resenting it - luckily I studied Drama at Exeter University and worked behind the bar at the Bike Shed, and by the time I finished uni, I sort of fell in love with the place (even if my friends from London have never visited).

    When I graduated, I decided that I wanted to be a VERY serious theatre director, despite being a very not serious person. After an ill advised double act called CAT PEOPLE with my very talented but teaches Maths boyfriend, I decided to try stand up. I lost a lot of confidence at uni because people wouldn’t cast me in their promenade adaptations of Arthur Miller plays, and I knew I loved writing, so I started doing stand up and really enjoyed it. I was commissioned by the BBC as part of the New Creatives scheme to make My Dad Boris, a mockumentary about finding out my Dad is Boris Johnson, and then in a completely odd turn of events, I used the global pandemic to turn the audio piece into a live show.

    What’s your favourite pasta shape?


    What are you currently working on?

    I am working on my show, Charlotte Johnson: My Dad and Other Lies, which is about me, not the fact that my Dad is the most important man in the country, allegedly. You can catch me nearly every day in August at the Edinburgh Fringe, at the Pleasance, 4:05pm, Jack Dome.

    How do you like your eggs in the morning? 

    Delia’s way.

    Have a chat with me!

    Im usually hanging out on the Exeter Phoenix terrace working or pretending to work. If you’re a patron of the arts with lots of money please pop over and say hello. Or if you’re just a nice person, please talk, I don’t actually want to be doing the thing I’m doing on my laptop.

  8. An Alternative Father’s Day Gift Guide

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    This one’s for all the dads who say they don’t want anything (even though we know they do really!)

    Take the father figure in your life on a trip to see the very best of independent film in our solar-powered cinema, a delicious beer and lunch on our terrace, a night of electrifying live music in our auditiorium or even nurture their inner Picasso's and book them on to one of our creative courses.

    Whatever they're in to, we've got an array of gift choices for the alternative father figure in your life. Keep reading for some inspiration on what to pick this Father's day...


    With a programme packed full of eye-opening documentaries, special screening events, groundbreaking new releases and unique film festivals, there has never been a better time to spend some quality time with the person that you call dad. We've just announced our programme for June, as well as our Surf Cinema Season and Big Screen in the Park.

    Discover our full film programme here >>



    Come on over for a drink and bite to eat in our vibrant, creative, café bar!

    Our chefs regularly add new dishes to our menu, including our weekly curry specials, soups, and seasonal favourites. With plenty of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options, there’s something for everyone!

    We accept walk-up customers as well as bookings. You can book a table by emailing:


    We've got a music programme bursting at the seams with both international and home-grown talent. Bring your father figure to see one of their favourites, or discover some brand new music. From folk to alt-indie, we've got lots to choose from. Take a look at our full music programme here >>


    For those with an artistic flair, take a wander around the home of contemporary visual arts in Exeter, for free! We've got multiple gallery spaces, with exhibitions spanning across a diverse range of disciplines and styles for you to explore. Take a look at our current and upcoming exhibitions here >>



    From Photoshop lessons to a day of experimental drawing, we've got a whole bunch of courses for the creative father figure in your life! Take a look at the courses we've got coming up here >> 



    Still not sure what to get? Give them a gift voucher and let them decide!

    With our diverse programme of events, these make the perfect gift for any culture lover.

    Exeter Phoenix gift vouchers can be redeemed for anything in our programme, whether it’s a day exploring your creative side at a sculpting workshop, a training session with our filmmaking team, or a great night out at one of our events. Tap here to buy a gift voucher.

  9. Big Screen in the Park: Add a picnic for two!

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    Fancy something a bit special at Big Screen in the Park? Let our official picnic providers Greendale Farm shop do the packing and pre-order a delicious, locally sourced picnic, which will be ready for collection on site. Just select which picnic box you’d like at the checkout and Greendale will do the rest!



    Tap here for full ingredients and allergen list
    Boxes are designed for 2 people



    Hettie Hen Classic Scotch Egg / Greendale Sausage Roll / Chunks Pork Squealer Pork Pies /Ottervale Devon Chutney / Cherry Peppers / Quickies Mature Cheddar /Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Sea Salt Crackers /Burts Seal Salt Crisps



    Shepherd Shack Cheegan Scotch Egg / The Ginger Cat Vegan Sausage Roll / Grumpies Brie & Red Onion Quiche / Devon Fire Chutney / Cherry Peppers / Quickies Devonshire Red Cheese / Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Sea Salt Crackers / Burts Seal Salt Crisps



    Shepherd Shack Cheegan Scotch Egg / The Ginger Cat Vegan Sausage Roll / Dairy Free Strong Cheddar Style /  Olives Et Al / Shepherd Shack Vegan Veg in a Box / Devon Fire Chutney / Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Sea Salt Crackers / Burts Seal Salt Crisps



    Surf N Turf Scotch Egg - Gluten Free Traditional Scotch Egg / Kays Cheddar & Onion Pasty / Kays Roasted Vegetable Tart / Devon Fire Chutney /  Cherry Peppers / Quickies Mature Cheddar / Gluten Free Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Sea Salt Crackers / Burts Seal Salt Crisps



    Greendale Sausage Roll / Greendale Gingerbread Man / Burts Seal Salt Crisps / Kulana Apple Juice / Banana

  10. Cinema coming up this June

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    This June, join us for our rolling programme of first-rate independent film and latest arthouse releases, hand-picked by our very own film programmer, Claire.

    We’ve got American absurdist science fiction comedy-drama films, Oscar nominated treasures and deeply moving tales of rural Ireland, plus so much more to get stuck into this month.

    Keep reading to find out what’s coming up or join our mailing list here and select ‘film’ as your preference to receive updates straight to your inbox!






    FRI 10 JUNE – THU 16 JUNE




    FRI 10 JUNE – THU 16 JUNE

    FRI 17 JUNE – THU 23 JUNE

    FRI 17 JUNE – THU 23 JUNE




    FRI 17 JUNE – WED 22 JUNE

    FRI 24 JUNE – THU 20 JUNE

    FRI 24 JUNE – THU 30 JUNE

  11. May Half-Term at Exeter Phoenix

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    Calling all artists (big and small), fairytale adventure seekers and picnic lovers!

    We’ve got a programme packed full of captivating theatre shows, creative art courses and picnics with a poetry twist this May half term. There’s so much to discover at Exeter Phoenix when school’s out and we can’t wait to invite you back for fun-filled activities for all the family.


    TUE 31 MAY | 2PM – 4.30PM

    Working in pairs, you will be using charcoal and collage techniques to create fun images of one another!


    THU 2 JUNE | 2PM

    An absurd comedy for all ages (6+), Hawk and Hill theatre bring a new twist to the fairytales you know and love.


    SUN 5 JUNE | 2PM – 3.15PM

    Spork! presents a brand new event, THE POETRY PICNIC! An interactive workshop and show that’s fun for all the family.

  12. Meet the Speaker: Toby Strong

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    Toby Strong is a multi-Emmy and Bafta winning wildlife cameraman, who has worked on many of the BBC’s landmark series throughout his career. Over the last 25 years Toby has travelled across every continent, from crossing the Sahara with camels to sailing to the Galapagos, from the Himalayas to the ice caves on the peak of mount Erebus in Antarctica.

    As someone who has seen the beauty of this world but also its demise, Toby cares very deeply and his talk is full of passion, extraordinary tales, humour, and heart. Read on to find out about Toby's greatest inspirations and what you can expect from his upcoming talk, Through a Wild Lens.

    Tell us a bit about your background – have you always been interested in wildlife photography and the environment?

    I grew up in the Dorset countryside searching for adders, badgers and fossils.

    My love of the natural world and wild places stems from my gran who was a gardener and great naturalist, and my gamekeeping father. After getting a very bad degree in engineering I developed an early passion for exploration and a love of beauty.

    I spent a year in the south of France doing an apprenticeship with a wonderfully creative and forward-thinking Danish film maker. We made films on insects, snakes, and lizards. He was both a great naturalist and great naturist, the days were long and eventful!

    In the last 25 odd years I’ve had the privilege to film on every continent and in most environments. I’ve been lucky enough to work on a lot of the big wildlife series over the last couple of decades (Planet earth 2 and 3, frozen planet 2, One strange Rock, Human planet, blue planet 2, etc).

    For nearly half a year, I followed the mountain gorillas of Uganda and Rwanda and a season walking with the black bears up on the Canadian border. I've been lucky enough to film and share amazingly intimate time with hugely emblematic species, nearly two decades filming the Elephants of East Africa. Worked with the cheetahs of the Masai mara on big cat for four series.

    I love working in different genres and bringing skills and techniques from documentaries, music and drama into my filming.


    What inspired you to get into wildlife cinematography?

    Initially I led expeditions, before heading to Africa on a one-way ticket, where I wanted to live as a game warden and to show people the magic of our natural world.
    Then I was introduced to photography and through my love of this newfound passion I realised I could reach so many more people and my path shifted to the one I’ve been lucky enough to be on for the last quarter of a century.

    You have been to some incredible places over the course of your career, are there any experiences which have stood out for you?

    It’s so very hard to pick favorites ... East Africa never releases its hold on me, and any dawn spent waking by a fire with the distant roar of lions is a good day! Also, Antarctica for its sheer magnitude and brutal splendor has got to be a favourite. On my last trip for welcome to Earth, I got to spend time in the ice caves on top of mount Erebus which was utterly unique.

    Throughout your career, you have witnessed firsthand the environmental challenges facing our planet, are there any causes that are particularly close to your heart, and have you made any changes in your day-to-day life to try and address them?

    I find this a hard question; I have seen much of the world that is in crisis and a lot that is now too late.

    It is hard for individuals to know how to make a difference. But it is through the individual that change is happening. Through our buying choices it is dictating the food on our shelves, packaging, and choice. If we choose not to buy food in plastic... food will not be sold in plastic, it’s that simple. If we only buy free range eggs, only free-range eggs will be farmed. Through our buying choices, those in power see what us the individuals, the people, the voters consider important, and this is what will then be acted on.

    Also, something that is very close to my heart is our school we have built in Madagascar. Over the last couple of years, we have gone from no school to one with over 200 students and three full time teachers. It’s a really good news story and something I’m very proud of.


    What can audiences expect from your talk?

    I hope everyone who comes will have an evening of tales from the wilderness. Stories of wonderous animals and people. A heartfelt talk I can guarantee, humour I can aim for but with less certainty of delivering!

    I am no expert in any field, but I have been blessed to see much of this world and I look forward immensely to sharing tales from the last 25 years.

    Raising awareness about environmental issues is clearly something you are very passionate about, is there a take home message that you would like audiences to come away with?

    Yes, I would echo my answer from earlier that people’s buying choices hold immense power when viewed as a collective whole.

    This tiny planet of ours is so very precious and our time on it is but a beat of a mosquito’s wings. Let’s smile and hug those we love and take more joy in this remarkable place we call home.

    Toby Strong: Through a Wild Lens comes to Exeter Phoenix on Mon 13 June at 8pm. Get your tickets here >>

  13. Madame Thespia’s Deliciously Diverse Open Mic Cabaret – Celebrating Variety

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    MADAME THESPIA’S DELICIOUSLY DIVERSE OPEN MIC CABARET EXTRAVAGANZA is set to be a night of variety and delight. Hosted by the mysterious Madame Thespia (known offstage, as Izzy) along with Phil Kingslan John, of well known Exeter theatre company Four of Swords, the night will feature a variety of acts, chosen by the discerning Madame herself. She expressed in her selection process, that she was especially keen to celebrate performers from Exeter’s vibrant Learning Disabled and neurodivergent community. We caught up with our hosts ahead of their inaugural evening of entertainment…

    What inspired you to put this evening together?

    Izzy: I am very passionate about performing arts, but there aren’t many opportunities for neurodiverse people who might want to do it as a career choice. This evening will give people the chance to showcase their talents.

    Phil: I’ve been working with Izzy for a few years now, and I’ve been so impressed with her dedication and drive. I wanted to help create a platform for Izzy and people like her to gain experience of quality, fun, public performance.

    Do you think the theatre/performance landscape needs to improve their access for neurodivergent people? If so, what would you like to see?

    Izzy: I would like to see more understanding of different needs and abilities- I don’t read but i have a very good memory. Raise more awareness about performers with learning difficulties so others in the industry know how to support us. Creating more characters who have learning and other types of disability. 

    Phil: I think Izzy also has been searching for a local acting agency with a sensitivity for the needs of neurodiverse performers, and the organisation and resources to offer the support necessary. Accessibility in the arts is improving massively at the moment, but agents need hold the keys to so many acting jobs and they need to move with the times. 

    What can artists who want to perform on the night expect?

    Izzy: Madness, fun, creativity! An open mic style cabaret evening for anyone who loves performing and wants to gain confidence in front of an audience. It is especially to encourage people who have disabilities to be able to perform in an inclusive environment. 

    What can audiences joining us expect?

    Izzy: A fun and inspiring evening of entertainment!

    Phil: Experience a deliciously diverse night of different acts, routines and kinds of awesomeness! 

    Please apply in advance for a 10 minute slot to thespia@four-of-swords.comor come along on the night to enjoy the show!

    Wednesday 25th May, 6:45pm

    Tickets are available here.

  14. Behind the Scenes: the making of Constellations

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    On Sun 29 May, interdisciplinary performance maker and practice-based researcher Sian Goldby brings Constellations to Exeter Phoenix, an intimate performance exploring landscapes of memory and humanity’s relationship with the earth. Through a re-imagining of the performance space in miniature, it investigates themes of nostalgia and memory in relation to the multiple scales of environmental crisis.

    In this blog piece, Sian talks about the making of Constellations and how her personal experiences and memories have formed the foundations for the performance.

    "Constellations is designed to bring about the sensation that history is repeating itself. The work is a constant manipulation, extraction and destruction of world, earth and planet, and asks – how do we construct our worlds?" - Sian Goldby, Writer

    When I was a child, I used to go with my parents on trips to Bekonscot Model Village every year. It was my absolute favourite place to go. I remember having an overwhelming urge to get into the tiny scenes; not just to climb inside and touch the tiny houses and trains and market stalls with my hands, but to somehow embody how it felt to live in these tiny spaces. I wanted to be immersed in this world, not just stand by at a distance all giant and ungainly in my wrongscale body. I wanted to shrink myself down, get closer to it all.

    Constellations is a performance which aims to capture this curious visceral sensation by inviting audiences to immerse themselves into a micro-world of the performance and experience a different sensation of scale. The piece taps into childhood nostalgia and explores the concept of memory as a kind of ever-shifting landscape, and remembering as a form of drawing and re-drawing of mental maps.

    I made the work in 2019, the year that I turned 30. My birthday is at the end of August and I had planned a celebration in a pub in my hometown of Bristol with the hope that we might be able to use the lovely suntrap of a roof terrace. This was before I remembered that it always rained on my birthday now, and has done since I turned 18.

    I remember every birthday until the day I turned 18 being in beautiful sunshine; picnics, garden parties, outdoor swimming, were always on the list of activities for birthday parties during my childhood without the need to be too optimistic about the weather. A hot, sunny, summer birthday was a good payoff for being the youngest out of my peers and being teased about having to ‘wait’ to be ‘finally’ the next age.

    How could it be that the UK seasons have changed so much within such a short time-frame? How can it be that just 30 years out of billions is all it has taken to shift the weather? Was it really sunny on every birthday or did I just imagine it?

    As I reached this milestone, I began to reflect on other changes to the climate that I have noticed within my short time on this earth. I also found out that 30 years is the time period which is used as a reference point by the World Meteorological Organisation to calculate climate normals, and therefore fluctuations. I started to build the piece using my stories and memories, and I wanted to invite audiences to reflect on their own timescales too.

    Constellations is designed to bring about the sensation that history is repeating itself. The work is a constant manipulation, extraction and destruction of world, earth and planet, and asks – how do we construct our worlds?

    CONSTELLATIONS comes to Exeter Phoenix on Sun 29 May. The performance is designed for small audiences of up to 6 people. For tickets and timings, tap here >>


    Comments Off on BLOOM 2022: PROGRAMME FOR THE DAY

    Bloom Festival 2022, our free community festival for mental health awareness week is right around the corner and we can't wait to welcome you all for an incredible line up of music, art & crafts workshops, poetry, storytelling, panel discussions, yoga and so much more.

    We've put together a handy Festival programme and map to help you plan your day and make sure that you don't miss  out on any events or activities! Pick up a paper copy from our box office as you arrive on Sunday, or tap below to download to your device.

    Tap here to download the Bloom 2022 Programme >>

    Tap here to download the Bloom 2022 Map >>

    Book your space on a Bloom event or activity in advance here >>

  16. Edinburgh Fringe show ‘Hold on Let Go’ comes to Exeter Phoenix

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    Hold On Let Go is a new show about memory from Unfolding Theatre, the company the Guardian calls ‘thrillingly talented’ with original songs by Paul Smith (Maxïmo Park), choreography by Liv Lorent MBE and dramaturgy by Selina Thompson (salt.Hold On Let Go comes to Exeter Phoenix Thursday, 12th May.

    Following a successful run at Summerhall at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe, Unfolding Theatre’s critically acclaimed show about memory and what we pass on begins a UK tour this spring, arriving at Exeter Phoenix on 12 May.

    In a world of information overload, Hold On Let Go invites audiences to discover a new kind of memory champion. One that admits how much they’ve forgotten. One that bakes bread, dances on tables and might possibly get sucked into a black hole... 

    Alex is 56. Luca is half his age. Alex has an encyclopaedia in his head. Luca has one on her phone. Most of us forget most things, most of the time. What if we forget something important? Something that might make the world a better place?

    Director Annie Rigby explains, “Hold On Let Go takes you on a journey that starts in a kitchen and travels to the farthest reaches of our universe. It explores how fragmentary and partial our memories are - both as individuals and society. From there it asks whether we might behave differently if we were conscious of how little we hold in our memories. 

    “It's a lovely show to be touring as audiences return to theatres, many for the first time since before the pandemic. It has a very welcoming and relaxed atmosphere, and serves its audience freshly baked bread. It makes me laugh to think that we made Hold On Let Go before sourdough bread became a lockdown cliché. 

    “It's brilliant to be touring the show in 2022, when it feels more relevant than ever. It’s a real celebration of live performance, with plenty of laughter, good stories and great music. It’s also the first time Unfolding Theatre has toured to Exeter Phoenix and that feels very exciting!

    Paul Smith has written original songs for Hold On Let Go - his first theatre collaboration. He says, “Music and memory is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. We called the first Maxïmo Park album, A Certain Trigger because of how music can be an emotional trigger, taking you to places and memories. In Hold On Let Go, we’re playing with how a radio broadcast of songs and words, played within the show, can build an emotional connection with audiences.”

    The creative team also includes dramaturg Selina Thompson (salt.), choreographer Liv Lorent MBE(balletLORENT), writer/performer Luca Rutherford (Learning How to Die), and sound design by Mariam Rezaei (Beats North, Curious Monkey).

    Led by Annie Rigby, Unfolding Theatre brings people together to experience stimulating new work that’s thoughtful, unexpected and playful. Over the last decade, the company has built a reputation for working with all sorts of people from different walks of life to make theatre with a wild sense of humour and strength of character. 2017 saw the company’s biggest national tour to date with Putting the Band Back   Together which premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2016, “Fantastic - funny, big-hearted, moving and truthful.” The Guardian

    As with all of Unfolding Theatre’s work, participation drives the creative process. For Hold On Let Go Annie and the team led workshops with parents and newborn babies and elderly people to explore how to capture the things that are usually forgotten in day to day life. Some of their stories feature in the show as listeners’ messages sent into Paul Smith’s radio station, Too Much Information FM. We hear about Jude who can’t remember what it feels like to be carried, Mary who remembers the sound of sea ice cracking, heard in the middle of a night in the hard winter of 1963. Alex bakes sourdough bread during each show. The sourdough starter is activated by the natural yeasts in the air of each performance. A piece of freshly baked bread is offered to the audience at the end of the show, as a tiny feast of now.

    Tickets are on sale now for Exeter Phoenix 12 May. Book your tickets here >>

  17. Design a Postcard Competition Winners Announced!

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    Earlier this year, we asked you lot to design us a postcard for our membership packs for the chance to win a bunch of prizes, including your own set of the exclusive postcards, a goody-bag & the chance to have your postcard design exhibited in our walkway gallery space.

    Today is the day where we get to share the winning postcard designs with you all! We had some truly amazing entries across the three age categories, so thank you to each and every one of you who took part.

    We’d also like to say a massive thank you to our friends over at Moo Free Chocolates for providing the most delicious goody bags, filled with lots of ethically made, vegan, organic treats for our winners this year.

    You can take a look at the winning picks below, but they’ll also be exhibited in our walkway gallery later this year for you to browse in person too – keep your eye on our socials for more details.


    Under 11's Winner: Holly Cookson


    11 - 17 Winner: Edie Webb


    Adult Winner: Gemma Mackenzie


    Tracey Kennedy
  18. Bloom Poetry Competition 2022

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    Exeter Phoenix are delighted to announce the return of the Bloom Poetry Competition! This competition is taking place as part of Bloom – our third annual festival celebrating Mental Health Awareness Week.

    The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 is loneliness and we invite your poems on this theme, as well as the larger themes of mental health and wellbeing. The competition is free to enter and open to all.

    Whatever your rhyme or reason for writing poetry, we look forward to reading your entries!


    Two categories are open for entries. One winner will be announced per category.

    • Bloom Junior Poetry Competition (for ages 17 and under)
    • Bloom Poetry Competition (for ages 18 and over)

    Our judges for the competition will be Exeter Phoenix’s resident poetry enthusiast Anna-Ruth Peel-Cusson, The Poetry Archive‘s Dr Tracey Guiry and Spork!‘s Chris White.


    One winner will be announced for each category. A highly commended shortlist may also be shared. The winning poem for each category will receive:

    • An original illustration inspired by your poem
    • Your poem published on Exeter Phoenix’s website
    • An opportunity to perform your poem live at Exeter Phoenix for the BLOOM Open Mic Night on Sun 8th May 2022 (7pm – 9pm).
    • A pair of theatre tickets
    • A pair of cinema tickets


    • Maximum length: 50 lines. Titles, dedications and lines between stanzas are not included in the line count.
    • Poems can be traditional or experimental in form
    • There is no entry fee – participation is free
    • Applicants may only enter one poem


    The competition is free to enter and open to everybody. You can enter online by filling in the online form below.

    The deadline for submissions is Fri 29th April 2022 at 10am.

    If you would prefer to enter by post, please send your entries to: Bloom Poetry Competition
    FAO Anna-Ruth Peel-Cusson
    Exeter Phoenix
    Bradninch Place
    EX4 3LS

    If you have any questions, need some assistance with the form, or would prefer to submit your work in another way, please email and we will be happy to help.

    Find out more about Bloom Festival of Mental Health Awareness here >>

  19. Easter at Exeter Phoenix

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    This Easter Holiday, join us for two whole weeks of interactive performance, captivating theatre shows, creative performance workshops and even star in your own Superhero Movie workshop.

    There’s so much to discover at Exeter Phoenix when school’s out and we can’t wait to see you for some creative fun this Easter!


    Mon 11 April | 1.30pm + 4pm

    Squidge’ is a fun interactive dance performance with live music and digital projection, which takes a light-hearted look at our sense of touch and how it influences our everyday lives.


    Mon 11 April – Tue 12 April

    Become the hero – defeat the villain! Create your own superhero scene in this two-day workshop.

    SING 2

    Sat 16 April – Wed 20 april

    Can-do koala Buster Moon and his all-star cast of animal performers prepare to launch their most dazzling stage extravaganza yet …in the glittering entertainment capital of the world.


    Tue 19 April | 11am + 2pm

    A story of a little girl’s encounter with a very cheeky Jinn. Using physical theatre, original music and vivid design, this new play by award winning writer Asif Khan is a funny and endearing story for the whole family.


    Tue 19 April – Sat 23 April

    Imaginative young people aged 12 – 15 are invited to create a stage play with the award winning PaddleBoat Theatre Company during the Easter Holidays.


    Sun 10 April + Wed 13 April

    Make your own decorations to adorn your home and Easter tree with the new workshop at Maker Mart!

  20. Turn Up The Volume x Green Phoenix

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    Turn Up The Volume for a sustainable music industry!

    Here at Exeter Phoenix we are taking steps toward being a greener and more sustainable organisation with our new Green Phoenix project.

    As our contribution to Turn Up The Volume week with Music Declares Emergency, we’ve got a line-up of talks, live music events and climate change awareness training coming up this month, which highlight the music industry’s need to respond to the climate crisis – and how we as venues, artists and music lovers – can all play our part in responding to it.

    On Tue 19 April, we’ve got a day’s worth of certified Carbon Literacy learning that encompasses climate change science, context and action, designed specifically for the music industry. On Thu 21 April, join us for ‘in conversation’ event Music and Climate Activisim with Kate Honey on her work as both a composer and a climate activist, hosted by Tony Whitehead. 

    We’ll also be welcoming Music is Murder to Exeter Phoenix, with a live event on Sat April 23rd and A Quiet Night In, an event which explores the creative possibilities within quiet/silence.

    Carbon Literacy Training

    Tue 19 April | 11am – 7pm

    Music and Climate Activism

    Thu 21 April | 8.30pm – 10pm

    Music is Murder

    Sat 23 April | 8pm

    A Quiet Night In

    Fri 22 April | 9pm – 10pm

  21. Ajvar: A Labour of Love

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    In the film Hive, Fahrije and the other women in her village use their ajvar making skills to improve their financial situation. But what is ajvar? How’s it eaten and where?

    Dr Celia Plender, who teaches a course on food preservation for the MA Food Studies at the University of Exeter finds out more.

    In its most basic form the Balkan, roasted, red pepper paste ajvar (pronounced eye-var) is made from just three ingredients – red peppers,sunflower oil and salt. But to make it properly takes a lot of effort. Kushtrim who grew up in Pristina, Kosovo told me, “the way it’s made is completely crazy. It takes hours… days.” While Maria from Macedonia explained that “it’s a labour of love. It’s virtually impossible to make it by yourself. You needneighbours, you need family members. It’s an elaborate teamwork task. Butall that effort and all that work is really rewarded when you get the final product.”

    In Maria’s hometown in Macedonia, the air would be filled with the smell ofroasting peppers in the autumn months when she was a child. You could often tell which families had been making ajvar, as children would come to school with nails stained red from peeling peppers. In her own family, there was always a jar in the fridge during the winter months and she had fond memories of having red lips from chewing on bread spread with the red pepper paste while playing hopscotch. Each autumn, large sacks of long, pointed, red peppers can be found all over the Balkans to be roasted, peeled, de-seeded, minced and cooked down into the thick, sweet and smoky paste known as ajvar. At times, other seasonings and ingredients are also added, such as chilies, aubergines or tomatoes, and while red pepper paste is known as ajvar in countries including Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Croatia, there are other variations in Bulgaria and Romania such as Lyutenitsa and Zacusca.

    Like many of the preserved foods that we study on the MA Food Studies, ajvar is associated with the practice of processing and storing ingredients for the leaner months. Dr Miladina Monova, whose work we look at, explains that it’s considered a staple that’s precious in the winter months not only for its nutritional value, but also for the work that goes into it.

    Anna, a British anthropologist who runs Bolara Šešanta guesthouse in Croatia came to appreciate this when she started making her own ajvar. Although much of her other homemade produce circulated freely as gifts, her Croatian friends told her to hold on to her ajvar. On the occasions that she did give it away, she started to see a difference in how it was received by those who had a connection to ajvar and those who didn’t, who might let it languish at the back of a fridge rather than being savoured as it deserved.

    Kushtrim still looks back with some nostalgia at the jars of ajvar that his uncle used to gift him and his parents when he was a child. This was cooked in a traditional pasllom or “cooking house” where peppers were roasted on a wood oven stove and then cooked down in a large cooking pot over an open fire. While other families might add ajvar to eggs with cheese and mushrooms, Kushtrim’s parents were more traditional, simply serving it spread on warm, crusty bread for breakfast or a snack, perhaps with a little bit of sheep’s cheese on the side.

    Ajvar not only evoked strong memories for many of the people I spoke to, but also connected food, people and place. For Nina, a student on the MA Food Studies, whose family comes from Serbia, ajvar was often eaten as a condiment with kebab-like ćevapčići. Having grown up in the UK and USA, the pepper paste was a precious gift that usually arrived in a suitcase inside a recycled jar (a “classic of Balkan homemade goods”) when family members came to visit from home. Later, when she moved to Los Angeles, she found ajvar in a local Bosnian café. But she saw this “bought” version as a “bad
    imitation” of the homemade kind. While she could make do when necessary, it made “the experience of going back to Serbia or Croatia and getting a spoonful of real ajvar the best thing ever.”

    In all my conversations, there was a strong distinction between the kind of ready-made ajvar you find in Balkan shops around the world and the homemade versions shared between family and friends, or sold at small scale by local makers. More than just a food, this kind of ajvar expressed the time, effort and care that had been put into it by its makers, creating powerful connections between people and places.

    Find out more about how to make ajvar:

    Hive screening in Studio 74 from Fri 1 April – Thu 7 April