Preview by Steve Cooke
Music from Mercury Prize-winning Sampha and a series of international shows responding to a world in crisis join previously announced programme highlights including the UK premiere of Robert Wilson’s Jungle Book, a new stage work by Maxine Peake, and gigs from Underworld and Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker – with more to be announced.
Following the success of the official opening season of Aviva Studios, Factory International has announced more details of its 2024 spring programme at the city’s landmark new venue.
The Fête of Britain
A trio of works respond to a world in crisis: The Fête of Britain (22-24 Feb) is a four-day takeover by Hard Art – a group of artists, musicians and creatives including Brian Eno, Es Devlin, Cornelia Parker, and Jeremy Deller who have come together to respond to the crisis in democracy and the climate emergency. Through a mix of play, talks and performances, the ‘fete’ will ask how we can face up to the challenges of the twenty-first century and how we can make the world safer, fairer, and better.
In the year of a crucial US election, fix+foxy’s award-winning theatre production Dark Noon (6-10 March) explores one of the great American myths – the Wild West. Staged for the first time since its breakthrough UK premiere at Edinburgh Fringe in 2023, this explosive production - directed by Tue Biering and Nhlanhla Mahlangu, and told by seven South African actors - takes audiences on an epic journey through the bloody history of the birth of modern America and asks: what if history wasn’t written by the victors, but by the vanquished? While, later in the month, Collective Ma’Llouba’s The Long Shadow of Alois Brunner (21-23 March) by Syrian playwright Mudar Alhaggi and directed by Omar Elerian raises searing questions about refuge, justice and hope. Weaving together Syrian and German history to interrogate the true story of one of the most wanted Nazi criminals to escape sentencing, the thought-provoking play explores exile, accountability and political memory and the complex thread that ties the past to the present.
The Long Shadow of Alois Brunner
These newly announced works join a series of original new theatre and dance works commissioned by Factory International and presented at Aviva Studios this spring. Visionary director Robert Wilson joins forces with CocoRosie for a spellbinding stage adaptation of the Jungle Book, featuring stunning set designs, dazzling costumes and a dreamy original soundtrack (28-31 March); Maxine Peake, Sarah Frankcom, and Imogen Knight join forces with Gazelle Twin and Daisy Johnson to present a feminist theatrical reimagining of John Bowen’s Robin Redbreast - first broadcast as part of the BBC’s Play for Today series in 1970, and widely regarded as a precursor to The Wicker Man (Robin/Red/Breast, 17-26 May); and Keith Khan’s The Accountants (7-12 May) takes real data from India and China and transforms it into a visual allegory for the stage, combining stunning visuals and dance from Chinese leading choreographer Xie Xin and Mumbai’s Terence Lewis.
Jungle Book Maxine Peake
Sarah Frankcom Imogen Knight Keith Khan
In April, Factory International presents a specially commissioned programme of work from internationally acclaimed Manchester-based artist David Hoyle. Cabaret star, actor, and accomplished visual artist, Hoyle’s infamous alter-ego ‘The Divine David’ transported him from radical alternative settings to the studios of Channel 4. Please Feel Free to Ignore My Work (10–28 April) is part retrospective, part occupation that celebrates the artist's prolific body of work across multiple mediums created over four decades.
Kicking off a series of live music at Aviva Studios, Sampha will perform two very special shows for Factory International (15-16 February). Presented in the round in the warehouse, fans can expect to hear songs from his second full-length album LAHAI – which follows his Mercury-Prize-winning debut Process, and follows a slew of incredible performances across the States. Other music highlights include two nights from Underworld (12-13 April); the once-in-a-generation songwriter Adrianne Lenker – best known as the lead vocalist, guitarist and songwriter of American indie folk band Big Thief (25 April); Death Songbook, an exquisite reimagining of iconic songs exploring love, loss and transcendence from the Paraorchestra, Brett Anderson and Charles Hazlewood, In June, City of Floating Sounds, a new work from composer Huang Ruo, takes audiences on a journey across the city blending technology and music culminating in a live performance by the BBC Philharmonic
Reflecting its commitment to ensuring access to the widest possible audiences, Aviva £10 tickets will be available to Factory International shows as part of an affordable pricing strategy that will see discounted tickets for Manchester communities across its year-round programme. Alongside, a public programme of free events will fill the inside and outside spaces throughout the season – with full details to be announced.
John McGrath, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Factory International said: “It's been such an honour and thrill to welcome sold out audiences to an amazing series of projects in the opening months of Aviva Studios, from Yayoi Kusama’s You Me and the Balloons, to our epic opening show Free Your Mind, to local hero Johnny Marr, artists and audiences have truly embraced our new space. For the new year, we want to show our venue’s potential to respond to the world’s most pressing issues – with urgent new work responding to the crises we see all around us, while also providing moments of joy and celebration with some of our most exciting musicians and artists, global and local.”
Programmed and operated by Factory International, the organisation who also deliver the world-famous Manchester International Festival (MIF), Aviva Studios hosts a year-round programme by leading artists from across the world, creating a global destination for arts, music and culture in the heart of Manchester. The venue’s development was led by Manchester City Council, with backing of £99.05m from HM Government and £7m National Lottery funding from Arts Council England.
Tickets for Dark Noon, The Long Shadow of Alois Brunner and Sampha are on sale to members today and on public sale on Friday. The rest of the programme will be on sale in February.