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Criterion Theatre
Springboard Festival (2023)
Written by Various
Sat 25th March to Sat 1st April
The Springboard Festival is a week-long festival of performing arts bringing together a collation of performances over eight nights, from amateur, community and professional companies and artists. 
We want to show off our fabulous theatre, as we strive to provide opportunities for emerging artists of all ages and backgrounds, support the creative economy of Coventry and Warwickshire and provide a varied and rich artistic programme to audiences.
As with everything we do, the Criterion Theatre is committed to producing diverse and inclusive art and serving as a catalyst for community creation. Each night will see two or three acts of contrasting and complimentary genres. It will include drama, new writing, poetry and spoken word, multi-media perfomances and musical offerings, plus there will be accompanying art exhibitions and installations.
Much of the festival programme is confirmed but new acts are being announced every week.
A limited number of early bird Season Tickets can be purchased for £40, which allow entry to all performances across the eight days. Individual tickets are also available for each day at our usual prices (Members, Non Members and Under 18s).
Festival Programme
Click on the links below for further information about the programme for each festival day:
Day 1: Saturday March 25th 
Exotic by Cassandra O Floresca, Dangermouse, John Bernard, Small Hours by Lucy Kirkwood (Criterion), The Sonoplasts
Day 2: Sunday March 26th
Mikael Petersson and Emilie Lauren Jones, Exotic by Cassandra O Floresca, Rebellious Sisterhood by Karen Forbes (Criterion)
Day 3: Monday March 27th
Exotic by Cassandra O Floresca, Sweet by Srabani Sen, Rebellious Sisterhood by Karen Forbes (Criterion). 
Day 4: Tuesday March 28th
Voices from the Dark (Coventry Resource Centre for the Blind), Hattie  by Beverley Andrews, Rebellious Sisterhood by Karen Forbes (Criterion)
Day 5: Wednesday March 29th
"Word from the Floor" Emilie Lauren Jones Poetry Club, Small Hours by Lucy Kirkwood (Criterion), Wes Finch and Jasmine Gardosi
Day 6: Thursday March 30th
The Pusuits of Pe'er Gynt -Liv Dineley, Wild Swim by Martha Watson Allpress (Criterion),  Fast by Fin Kennedy (Criterion Youth)
Day 7: Friday March 31st
Small Hours by Lucy Kirkwood (Criterion), Dangermouse, Wild Swim by Martha Watson Allpress (Criterion), The Fat Chance Show - annA rydeR and Nicky Cure
Day 8: Saturday April 1st
Dangermouse, Wild Swim by Martha Watson Allpress (Criterion), Fast by Fin Kennedy (Criterion Youth), The Closing by Andrew Sharpe (Criterion),  Keith Donnelly

Day 1
It's up and running. The Criterion Theatre's eight-day Springboard Festival in Earlsdon aims to showcase just some of the extraordinary drama, music, poetry and art currently being developed in the city and throughout Warwickshire.

The ambitious festival opened on Saturday night (March 25) with people like Stoke Aldermoor-born poet and rapper John Bernard who early in the evening performed his thought-provoking work on stage before later collaborating with professional musicians Derek Nisbet, Simon Chalk and Amy Kakoura who as The Sonoplasts who are about to release an album of "folk noir" later this week.

All the music on The Sonoplasts' new album is written by Derek (of Talking Birds fame) and hauntingly sung by Amy with Simon on violin. But the trio took a break from their new playlist to provide a soundtrack for two of John's poems captivating the whole audience and drawing us in with some rhythmic clapping.

Having said that I was among those still recovering from Leonie Slater's stunning, truly shocking performance in the short drama Small Hours, written by Lucy Kirkwood and carrying its own mental health warning.

Everyone in the theatre knew we were watching an agonising truth acted out on stage, knowing it happened in real life, as an exhausted mother does everything she can to block out the sounds of her wailing baby.

By the end I certainly wasn't the only woman trembling in the foyer; several of us asking "why?" we had to see this particular truth on stage; others believing it was a reality that had to be told with no holds barred. One man near me, deciding it was the best thing he'd seen in a long time.

No doubt for those with post-natal depression it could trigger unwanted thoughts and memories. Personally, while I admired Leonie for her skill and nerve, I couldn't help wishing I'd stepped out into the bar for that particular 30 minutes.

But this opening night had so much more to offer. Like young poet Cassandra O Floresca's poem "Exotic" performed by Talya Rajagukguk, her rant against the name often applied to bi-racial girls which is by no means seen as a compliment.

Lightening the mood was "Dangermouse" - aka Scott Healy - winner of Coventry's Positive Images poetry competition whose work goes something like this:

"Questing suspense

Mixing metaphor with common sense

Surreal with a dash of intense

And Often confuses observations for content..."

What a start to this event! If there are still tickets left I'll be back tomorrow night.

Barbara Goulden

Day 2

Coventry's own Poet Laureate Emilie Lauren Jones opened Day Two of The Criterion's Springboard Festival with heartwarming images of her life and occasional battles with an imaginary "rhino" that sometimes moves into her home in an attempt to lower her mood.

Her words, accompanied by international pianist Mikael Petersson, are uplifting, sometimes comic but above all aimed at leaving audiences full of hope and positivity.

Emilie and Mikael give performances all over the country and claim they can detect the difference between polite applause and real enthusiasm. Fortunately, they were on safe ground at the Criterion.

The main drama offering for Sunday (repeated March 27 and 28) is Rebellious Sisterhood, featuring Christine Evans, Dawn Morris and Alexandra Vickers in an imagined conversation set in 1913 as the Suffragette movement attracts ever keener young advocates willing to do anything for the cause. Written by Karen Forbes we meet Emmeline Pankhurst recovering from her latest stay in prison; learn more about the Emily who threw herself under the King's horse; and are reminded of the sheer brutality of force feeding.

There's jealousy and sexual tension too, as the police come hammering on the door.

Barbara Goulden
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