Innovation: Exploring Coventry's Past, Present and Future for Coventry Moves


Header image: A sneak preview of designs for the show by Ruby Pugh

On Saturday 5 June, the story of our signature event, Coventry Moves, will be framed around six themes or “Energies”, each one reflecting a different aspect of the city’s identity.

Among these six is “Innovation”, which will be at the heart of a section of the event titled “Ode to the Bicycle”. Reflecting on Coventry’s history and looking forward to its exciting future, this short performance piece has been written by Liz Mytton, an alumnus of the Belgrade Theatre’s Critical Mass programme who has worked in the city on a number of projects with both the Belgrade and Talking Birds.

Ahead of the event, we spoke to Liz to find out more about the piece and the inspiration behind it.

“It’s really looking at the bike as the centre of innovation in Coventry, so it’s a kind of celebration of what the bike has meant for the growth of Coventry and how it inspired a lot of other innovations that came after it,” she explains.

“It’s got three explorers, and basically they’re powered by the imaginations of local people. Really the whole piece is about inspiring people to dream, to think big, to be creative and to recognise the creativity that’s all around them in the city.”

Played by three local actors, these “explorers” represent Coventry’s Past, Present and Future, all working together towards a common goal, and have been likened to the three ghosts in A Christmas Carol.

“Before it became famous for bicycles, Coventry had massive industries in watch-making, clock-making and sewing machine manufacture, the last of which led on to the development of the bike,” says Liz. “And of course after that, the bicycle industry led to the invention of motorbikes, cars, and various other engines like the jet engines. So many companies came out of Coventry around cars and mechanisation.

“I think now Coventry’s got a great reputation for other innovations at the university, in research around virtual reality and augmented reality. So I think the whole piece is just celebrating that creative heart that’s present here.”

Although she hails from the North East, Liz has been regularly travelling to Coventry since 2013, and has always been made to feel at home here.

“I just love it. It’s a really friendly place. I think it’s got a real open-mindedness to it, and I think that’s quite welcoming to people who come from other cities in the UK, but also from overseas as well.

“It’s been really nice to see Coventry grow and develop in the eight years since I did the Critical Mass course here. I’ve seen new buildings going up and the student population continue to grow, and it feels like there’s a real atmosphere of excitement here. It always felt like an ambitious place with a real can-do spirit, but it’s brilliant when you can actually see some of those dreams.

“As far as Coventry Moves is concerned, I hope people will just enjoy it, but also that they might learn something from it, because I think often you can live somewhere that’s done lots of amazing things and not really know about them. So I hope it reveals things to people about their own city, and also that a bit of that will start to rub off and more people might count themselves in.”

Watch our video with her below, where you can also get a sneak peek at some of the design work for the show by Ruby Pugh.