Manchester International Festival 2019

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to attend the press launch of Manchester International Festival in 2019. The venue was the dark, atmospheric (and leaky) Upper Campfield Market Hall, complete with DJ, uplit cast iron pillars, and spiced Indian street food bites and luxury hot chocolate to ward off the cold.

It was a pleasant surprise that such a huge festival with so many sponsors and partners got straight down to brass tacks with the announcement of the programme. Each piece was introduced and described either live or via video, with no overlong speeches or waffly interviews. We like!

So, here’s what I’m hoping to catch this summer in MIF19:

Bells for Peace (Thursday 4 July). Yoko Ono’s involvement in the festival had already been announced, but that didn’t make it any less exciting to hear about it at the launch. Not that much is being given away – I’m hoping for a beautiful, powerful sound piece with hundreds of performers and the cathedral bells involved. If it can make anything like the impact of What is the City But the People? I’ll be very happy.

Invisible Cities (Friday 5 – Sunday 14 July). This year, MIF’s major dance commission is inspired by Italo Calvino’s novel (note to self: read before July) and will be performed in the awe-inspiring, cavernous surroundings of Mayfield Depot. Oh, and it’s being performed by Rambert and choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, who is currently producing a new work with the Royal Ballet.

Alphabus (Friday 5 – Sunday 7 July). This ‘seamless synergy of transatlantic street dance and vital poetry’ focuses on myths and gods, and teams dancer-choreographer Reggie Gray with Young Identity, the spoken word youth collective based at HOME. It’s great to see young artists and future arts professionals front and centre of the MIF programme.

The Anvil (Sunday 7 July). There’s two parts to this world premiere, which commemorates the centenary of the Peterloo Massacre. During the day, theatre company ANU will hit the streets of Manchester, collaborating with citizens to produce free, immersive performances inspired by the stories of those who were killed on 16 August 1819.

Animals of Manchester (including HUMANZ) (Saturday 20 – Sunday 21 July). From the powerful, political and rather highbrow to the ridiculously sublime… In the final weekend of the festival, Whitworth Art Gallery and park will be taken over by ‘absorbing animal encounters,’ including an edible Arndale Centre for squirrels and birds, a rescued hedgehog centre and a conference led by a cow. How can you not want to see what this looks like?!

I’m hoping to catch all of these – and more – as part of MIF19, and I’ll be sure to let you know my thoughts on here!

If you haven’t seen it already, you can catch up with the full MIF programme here.

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