Manchester International Festival

MIF15 launches an exciting programe of familiar faces and new commissions (2nd – 19th July 2015)

 

While the Manchester International Festival has been on my radar, I’ve never really engaged with it, assuming that it was for those with better groomed beards.

And I’ve always found out about things way too late – only to discover that the tickets have all gone. Not that I’ve known many names in the programme. I’ve smiled and nodded and then had to go away and Google, feeling like a most uncultured numpty.

All of which have conspired to make me believe that the Manchester International Festival was intimidating and not for people like me.

 

MIF15 launch

 

So this year I bit the bullet and got myself on the guest list for the 2015 programme launch event.

 

Ten years old and counting

 

However, just as I finally make it to the party, Alex Poots, the festival’s founding CEO and artistic director announces his move to a new role in New York.

Although he says that he leaves our city with a heavy heart, he’s leaving an incredible legacy – an internationally renowned festival which brings art lovers from right around the world to Manchester.

It’s a festival which will soon find a new home in the newly announced multi-million pound  Factory which is due to be built on the Old Granada Studios site.

Running thought the programme, it’s full of exciting new collaborations which push the boundaries to their extremes.

With the lights dimmed and ambient tunes turned up, the anticipation was palpable. By the end of the presentation I was sold!

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There is something for everyone in the MIF15 programme, and my advice is would be – if you don’t recognise some of the names, just go with it anyway, try something different and trust that Alex Poots has found something spectacular.

Across a range of Manchester venues, in an attempt to counter criticism that the festival is elitist, it’s allocated 10% of tickets to low waged people (under £14,000) with a Manchester postcode. Performances from Mancunians also weave through their way through many of the commissioned pieces.

 

Wonder.land

 

wonder.land is a new musical inspired by Alice in Wonderland, adapted to modern day. Poots was looking for a project which would lure back festival favourite Damon Albarn, which was both English and eccentric, but which would translate internationally.

A collaboration with The National Theatre and with War Horse’s set designer, this new musical is a modern story of a modern family with an  internet addiction to the computer game wonder.land. While all the usual characters will be there – some will live in the real world, while others will lie in the audio visual world within cyber space.

 

wonder.land

 

Albarn describes it as an “electro musical”. It sounds amazing!

wonder.land will be performed at The Palance Theatre (29th June – 12th July)

To find out more and to book tickets click here

 

 

High Tea in Wonderland

 

Continuing the ‘Alice’ theme, acclaimed chef Mary-Ellen McTague will create a magical food event behind the scenes at Manchester Museum.

 

High tea in wonderland

 

High Tea in Wonderland can be found at Manchester Museum on Sundays 5th,12th and 19th July.

To find out more and to book tickets click here

 

 

The Skriker at The Royal Exchange

 

Festival and Manchester theatre royalty, Maxine Peake and Sarah Frankcom will be bringing The Skriker to the Royal Exchange. This play, which was last seen in the UK 20 years ago centres around a shape shifting fairy which hovers between fairytale and nightmare. Described as the earth’s last cry, it promises to be a production which makes enormous demands on it’s performers and on it’s audience.

 

Skriker MIF15.

The Skriker will be performed at The Royal Exchange (1st – 18th July)

To find out more and to book tickets click here

 

 

Björk one-off gig at Castlefield

 

Björk is coming back to the festival to preview her new album in a spectacular gig at the Castlefield Arena (8,000 capacity).

 

Bjork

The concert is on Sunday 5th July.

For more information and to book tickets, click here

 

 

Tree of Codes – new contemporary ballet

 

A new ballet by acclaimed choreographer Wayne McGregor has been commissioned for the festival – with a kicking sound track by producer and remix artist Jamie XX. Soloists and dances from The Paris Opera Ballet (arguably the best in the world) will perform alongside Wayne’s own dance company and will feature Marie-Agnès Gillot ….. the French Darcey Bussell.

Tree of Codes will be performed at The Opera House (2nd – 10th July)

For more information and to book tickets, click here

 

 

Arvo Pärt and Gerhard Richter collaboration

 

Acclaimed visual artist Gerhard Richter and Arvo Pärt (the most performed living composer in the world) have made work inspired by and dedicated to each other.

Several years in the planning, these works will be united for the first time at The Whitworth art gallery (five paintings and choral music) and accompanied by an evening of Pärt’s music performed by Manchester Camerata at The Bridgewater Hall.

The Whitworth (9th – 19th July). For more information (free event) click here

Manchester Camerata at The Bridgewater Hall (12th July). For more information and to book tickets click here

 

 

The Tale of Mr Tumble

 

Families and children will be treated to The Tale of Mr Tumble at Manchester’s Opera House. It’s hoped that this new production will spark a life long love of theatre in children.

Following a long tradition of vaudeville performers (think Charlie Chaplin), CBeebies’ Justin Fletcher will be introducing us to many new members of his family. The show will also feature 400 Manchester children (including those with special educational needs) in a massive Makaton / sign language choir.

 

Mr Tumble

The Tale of Mr Tumble will be performed at Manchester’s Opera House (11th – 19th July).

For more information and to book tickets, click here

 

 

Ed Atkins – Performance Capture

 

Manchester Art Gallery will host three rooms dedicated to computer-generated moving image work. Performers from the festival will don motion action suits which will collectively be distilled into one avatar, thus documenting the festival in an extremely innovative way.

This is a free performance at Manchester Art Gallery (4th – 19th July). For more information, click here

 

The Immortal by Mark Simpson

 

Prepare to be spooked! Mark Simpson is one of Britain’s brightest young composers, winning both BBC Young Musician and Young Composer of the Year.

The Immortal, which will be performed at The Bridgewater Hall by the BBC Philharmonic, explores obsession with death inspired by notes from 19th century seanses. The programme, which will be the premier of his first large scale commission, will be completed by Mozart’s Requiem.

The Immortal will be performed at The Bridgewater Hall (4th July). For more information and to book tickets, click here

 

 

Neck of the Woods

 

Turner Prize-winning artist Douglas Gordon and celebrated pianist Hélène Grimaud will create a portrait of a wolf in a collision of visual art, music and threatre at new arts centre HOME – with words provided by Charlotte Rampling.

 

Neck of Woods

 

For more information and to book tickets (10th – 18th July), click here

 

 

Mercury Prize winner FKA twigs

 

FKA twigs will be making her MIF debut with a residency at Old Granada Studios, making seven short films over the week, with audiences invited to observe the process.

 

FKA twigs

 

For more information and to book tickets (9th – 15th July), click here

 

 

FlexN Manchester

 

Flying in from Brooklyn especially for the festival launch, Reggie ‘Roc’ Gray and three of FlexN dancers certainly made a statement. If you are FlexN you’ll be bone breaking, pausing, flexing and generally leaving your audience wondering how on earth a body can make shapes that just don’t seem normal. It was breath taking!

 

 

 

Ten dancers from Manchester will visit the FlexN team in Brooklyn to share styles and ideas – bringing them back to Old Granada Studios for a very special performance for the Manchester International Festival.

For more information and to book tickets (11th – 12th July), click here

 

 

The Age of Starlight

 

Festival Director Alex Poots described this as his riskiest ever commission as the piece of technology at the heart of it is still in the process of being created. The Age of Starlight will be a world first show about the origin of the universe, bought to life by incredible new cinematic technology. This 21st century planetarium will use glasses which bring CGI images into your field of vision.

The collaborative team includes Prof Brian Cox – the project will be announced and presented at this year’s festival with a full premier of the finished article in 2016.

Google are apparently investing gazillions into this technology which is predicted to eventually find itself on over 1 billion mobile hand sets.

You saw it here first!

 

TheAgeofStarlight

 

For more information, click here

 

 

Festival Square in Albert Square

 

There will be 18 days of free entertainment in Albert Square. 125,000 people visited last year from all walks of life. There will be a BBC studio on site, music, DJ’s, Heathcotes restaurant and a variety of street food.

If you’ve got a comedy itch that needs scratching, then Festival Square is also the place to head with a full programme of fun and frivolity including late night cabarets and a comedy reworking of Dostoyevsky’s The Crocodile!

 

Festival Square MIF

 

For more information, a full programme and to book tickets click here

 

 

Club Culture

 

Traditional show closer – Yellow, will once again be rocking Festival Square with Hacienda DJ Dave Haslam and guests (18th July). For more information and to book tickets click here

However, for it’s 10th anniversary and to close the show this year, there will be two nights of clubbing at Mayfield Depot with the Warehouse project (17th -18th July). For more information and to book tickets, click here

 

So it’s something for everyone, with both familiar and new faces bringing some really exciting collaborations to Manchester – consolidating our fine city as a major international arts hub.

 

Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)

 

Photographs: Alison Staples, MIF

 

 

 

 

 

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