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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA

A stunning new venue will have the WOW! Factor.

By Steve Cooke

The Factory International, MIF’s [Manchester International Festival] stunning new venue will have the WOW! Factor and an opening production that promises to reflect that ‘Wowness’ in spades.

The official opening production will be Free Your Mind, a large-scale immersive performance based on The Matrix films presented across the building’s ultra-flexible spaces. This dramatic retelling through dance, music and visual effects will bring together the visceral movement of choreographer Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy MBE with a powerful score from renowned composer Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante MBE (co-founders and artistic directors of the Olivier award-winning Boy Blue), world-leading designer Es Devlin’s large-scale stage sculptures and the work of the acclaimed writer Sabrina Mahfouz – directed by Danny Boyle. Using spectacular visual effects, a cast of professional dancers and hundreds of Manchester participants will recreate some of the film’s most iconic scenes, provoking visions of an alternative future. (18 October -5 November 2023)

Before the official opening, the new venue will form the centrepiece of the 2023 Manchester International Festival (which will return across the city from 29 June to 16 July) with a major exhibition in its main warehouse space. You, Me and the Balloons celebrates three decades of Yayoi Kusama’s spectacular inflatable sculptures, shown together for the first time. Created especially for Factory International, this will be the renowned Japanese contemporary artist’s largest ever immersive environment, featuring works that are over ten metres tall - including giant dolls, spectacular tendrilled landscapes and a vast constellation of polka-dot spheres. (29 June – 28 August 2023)

Following Free Your Mind, a wide range of music, circus, art and fashion will fill the building and its outdoor spaces during The Welcome, a nine-day programme developed by Greater Manchester residents. Building on Manchester International Festival’s strong history of working with local people to choose and programme artists and events, The Welcome is an invitation from Greater Manchester residents to their neighbours - to meet, learn, and play in the extraordinary new cultural space opening in the heart of their city. (11-19 November 2023)

Reflecting Factory International’s commitment to ensuring access to the widest possible audiences, 5,000 tickets will be available for Free Your Mind at £10 or less as part of an affordable pricing strategy that will see discounted tickets for Manchester communities across its year-round programme.

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