What Not to Miss @ Manchester International Festival 2017

Sampha_Press_OPT2_0001_1Ten years on from its first full festival, this year’s MIF promises to be a tour de force of incredible international talent collated in celebration of creativity from all over the globe. A wide and wacky programme running from the 29th June to the 16th July boasts events ranging wildly—from a rethinking of New Order’s back catalogue to an opera for babies. With an incredible plethora of performers across a series of diverse venues, here’s my pick of what piqued my interest from this year’s offerings. And with £12 tickets for lower-income Greater Manchester residents, it’d be rude not to….

Drunk at Vogue Presents... Nightlife (Photo Credit: Lee Baxter)

Drunk at Vogue Presents… Nightlife (Photo: Lee Baxter)

1) MIF 2017 Opening Party: Drunk at Vogue Presents…. Nightlife

When? 30th June

Where? Festival Square

What? As a doting fan of the drag community, any event that offers a ‘Grand Slam Catwalk Dance-Off’ and a professional vogue crew is an event that I will be at, even more so if it’s in the glorious settings of Albert Square. With crazy visuals, well-loved DJs and more glitter than a HobbyCraft, it’s set to be a night of devilish debauchery and me adoringly gawking at men twenty times more flexible than I could ever dream to be.

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2) ToGather

When? Performance 9th July  // Exhibition 20th June—3rd September

Where? The Whitworth Art Gallery

What? Structured as a ‘mental map’, this interactive exhibit will flow through several rooms of the gallery and areas of the surrounding park to emulate the journeys and experiences of migrants. Featuring a series of structures, drawings, personal items and digital work, the exhibition is all centred around the timely themes of separation, gathering and togetherness. A one off free performance featuring choreography by Studio Wayne McGregor will take place on the 9th July from 2-5pm.

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3) Returning to Riems

When? 5th–14th July

Where? HOME

What? The world premiere of a theatrical adaptation of Didier Eribon’s memoirs by the Schaubühne Company, questioning the place of political activism in a growing global climate of populism.  This personal reflective piece is a taste of the sort of project we can expect from the upcoming multi-arts venue Factory, set to open in 2020.

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4) Bonobo

When? 4th July

Where? Manchester Cathedral

What? British producer and DJ Bonobo is returning to his native England for this one off show in the stunning Manchester Cathedral. His latest album Migration taps into the bittersweet transition of leaving your home to live abroad (I see a theme developing here). Featuring outstanding vocalists such as Nick Murphy (formally Chet Faker), the thoughtful lyrics and deliciously imbalanced structure truly resonate with those who know how it feels to leave everything you know for an uncertain new life. I can’t imagine a more appropriate setting to bask in his down-tempo entrancing work than the both ostentatious and humbling Cathedral.

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5) True Faith

When? 30th June–3rd September

Where? Manchester Art Gallery

What? As someone who has watched 24 Hour Party People more times than I care to recount, I am in no small measure excited for this exhibition exploring the legacy of Madchester legends New Order and Joy Division. Forty years worth of art inspired by the two groups and their emotive story will be on show free of charge to the public, including seminal album art, music videos and photography from established contemporary artists such as Jeremy Deller and Barbara Kruger.

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Available Light, Photo Credit: JJ Tiziou

Available Light (Photo: JJ Tiziou)

6) Available Light

When? 6th–8th July

Where? Palace Theatre

What? First staged in 1983, the work of eponymous cultural creators Lucinda Childs (choreographer), John Adams (composer) and Frank Gehry (architect) is blended into one performance piece that fascinates the childhood ballet nerd within me. Lauded as the “perfect fusion of music, movement and art”, this event looks set to be an interesting and unique deviation from the conventional dance repertoire.

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7) The World Was Once All Miracle

When? 4th July

Where? The Bridgewater Hall

What? In celebration of a century since the birth of Anthony Burgess, well-known author but little-known composer with over 250 pieces to his name, Composer Raymond Yiu and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra will perform a collection of Burgess’ poetry set to his Symphony in C, never before performed live in Europe.

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8) Party Skills for the End of the World

When? 27th June–16th July

Where? A Secret Venue

What? I’m an absolute sucker for a secret event and this post-apocalyptic curveball in the festival calendar was one I can’t pass up. Teasers of potential activities include making balloon animals and how to skin a rabbit. Plus all attendees are instructed to wear sensible footwear, further heightening my excitement due to a deep-seated love for accruing incredibly context-specific (but generally useless) skills and talents. Grab some open-minded chums and your steel-capped boots and let’s party towards the end of the world together, safe in the knowledge that we know how to prepare a rabbit in either animal or rubber balloon form.

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9) Fatherland

When? 1st – 15th July

Where? Royal Exchange Theatre

What? Simon Stephens of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime fame teams up with other theatrical talents in this intimate portrait of modern fatherhood, nationality and masculinity. An important piece, looking at male vulnerability and the pressures of modern society on the masculine identity through a “daring collage of words, music and movement.”

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10) Sampha

When? 5th July

Where? Albert Hall

What? One of the best voices in modern music in one of the best venues in the UK, need I say more? Off the back of his stunningly emotive album Process and back-to-back collaborations with heavy hitters such as Drake and Solange, this show is guaranteed to be an absolute stunner.

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