Review: ★★★★ Gifted37 at the Birmingham Hippodrome

Gifted37 is the final graduate showcase of the Gallery37 programme; an initiative designed to give Birmingham-based young artists (16-25) the opportunity to hone their craft, collaborate, and experience the unique industry from the heart of their home county. The event is an opportunity for each artist to show their work, and for the audience to preview the next generation of artists stepping up to the Birmingham creative scene.

From an initial sixty artists on the Gallery37 programme, the Gifted37 performers are a prestigious set of shortlisted artists who have received extra investment and industry backing in order to produce the pieces on show as their professional debuts. A new partnership between the Birmingham Hippodrome and Punch Records has given them the ideal performance space to reflect the prestigiousness of the event.

The evening sees a range of performance styles across a wide variety of disciplines; from poetry, to dance, to filmmaking, to music; and even those performers within the same niche each have something different to offer, meaning there is certainly something to please everyone. Each performer takes the stage in turn to show their work, with a slot of approximately fifteen minutes. Compered by popular radio host Cassandra Maria, the twelve commissioned artists are Craig Aaron, Taoana Tsiki, Esther Ogunfeitmi, Amara Antoinette, Ayy Quierdo, Hannah Prentice, Tarju Le’Sano, Shenai, Tia Christopher, Shauna Latty, Nuria Tissera, and Jae Renee. The artists are as diverse as their media, which reflects a truly authentic cross-section of Birmingham’s demographics.

Standout performances come from spoken word artist Esther who gives a powerful presentation of her poetry, allowing the audience to see a deeper part of her soul than is obvious from the endearingly shy, giggly girl who introduces it. Dance duo Tia and Shauna are captivating in their performance based on the five senses; mixing multiple dance styles with expert ability and creativity. The cinematography demonstrated by filmmaker Nuria Tissera’s piece “Let Black Kings Be Queens” is beautiful and professional, with a moving and engaging short storyline. The closing performance of Jae Renee is also deserving of special mention with adorable stage-dressing and uplifting music on a theme of positive thought and affirmation that has the audience leaving the showcase feeling energised.

The work from these Gifted37 artists is a true, unapologetic celebration of Birmingham and its diversity and culture. The passion and home pride that each young person demonstrates is inspiring, and a testament to the creative team at Punch Records that is so dedicated to giving voice, opportunity, and funding to this local talent. At a critical point in their careers it will be interesting to see where each of these artists goes next, and it is highly likely that at least a few will be stepping from the streets of Birmingham up to the global stage thanks to the support of the Gallery37 programme.

To find out more about Gallery37, Punch Records, and all the artists mentioned click here.


Sammi McSporran

Sammi McSporran
Sammi McSporran

Sammi McSporran has been a lover of theatre for as long as she can remember. While her head carried her to a science career, her heart has always been for the stage and she is thrilled to be working with the Upper Circle West Midlands team in sharing the incredible performances that can be found beyond the big smoke. When she isn’t working or looking after her son, Sammi can usually be found in rehearsal with her local amateur dramatics groups. Her favourite musical is Something Rotten and her favourite play is The Seagull.


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