Pioneering Theatre, Music and Community Arts

 In Wolverhampton from 1980 to 2013


1982 - 2013

Zip Theatre gratefully

received support


Awarded the

Matrix Standard for


Advice & Guidance

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2013 Back to



.....But Zip did hold together. The quality of the music from Zip Rockschool is testimony to their high standards. The offerings of Wulfrunians great and small, prove that Zip is worth all the grants and funding it needs - and sometimes gets.

Zip takes kids, older folk, whoever, from whatever backgrounds, brings out and hones their gifts.If a zip fastener is there to hold things together, then this Theatre is amazingly well named in our faceted wonderful Wolverhampton society.

3: Church Times 29.6.01 Better Than Panto At The Civic Hall!

Three years' work went into the making of the Wolverhampton Mystery Cycle; a community play on an epic scale to celebrate the anniversary of city status.

It drew on the York, Wakefield, Coventry and Chester cycles but its Black Country voice was as distinctive as the voice of God, played by Lesley Beaumont, and the voice of Jesus, played by a black actor, Colin Dixon. There was no theological point-scoring here, though, nor conscious political correctness.

In the comic spirit of the Mysteries, this sweeping, female God - a part headmistress, part sorceress - would have commanded respect from the most ardent of traditionalists. Just visible above the topmost branches of a painted Tree of Life, she presided over a great Mexican wave of Creation, produced from the moving arms and bodies of almost 120 actors. They were of all ages, cultures, and abilities, and that was the point of the whole enterprise, conceived by the Revd Ross Bell, Churches' Link Officer in the city. Zip Theatre, who had co-ordinated and directed the production, used the great tide of amateurs, swelled by promenade sections of the audience, to fill, transform and even make holy at times the vast, mundane, 60's interior of the Civic Hall.

Uniformly clad, they looked like peasants anywhere in the world, but I thought them reminiscent, too, of scenes from Dr Zhivago. Adam was a painted, ape-like tribesman, Eve a giggling, shrieking Lady Godiva, and Satan a tail-twirling tempter.

The story of Noah was mighty, not just for the joyful parade of imaginatively conceived masks and puppets, but for the sobering sight of the souls drowning around the Ark. The crossing of the Red Sea was a spectacular piece of drama rippling red silk banners.

A child skidding up on a bike to bring Mary and Joseph news of the census was a neat bridge between the Old and New Testaments. Jesus' birth was as depicted in the rich chuckle of a baby from deep in the interior of the Tree of Life.

Herod roared like Brian Blessed, and shredded red fabric bursting out of soft shapes cradled by mothers powerfully symbolised the killing of the firstborn. Figures looked tiny on the Civic Hall's cavernous stage and against the Tree of Life, the only piece of scenery. The Last Supper was one scene elevated from the floor and given a long view that gave it the appearance of a painting.

But most powerful of all was Christ's crucifixion on the Tree itself, affirming the rison d' etre for the whole piece: " The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations."

They had hoped to condense 12 hours of material into a projected two-hour performance, but, in the event, it ran to almost three-and-a half-hours. Sadly, I had to be on the road, and so I missed the Resurrection and escaped the Day of Judgement.

Powerful, original music accompanied this robust journey through the Bible, and the gospel spoke for itself. Small children in the audience paid it more attention than panto, and the pity is that it was only on for three days.

reviews 7 Reviews