Manchester International Festival Announces 2017 Slate of New Commissions and World Premieres

International News   Manchester International Festival Announces 2017 Slate of New Commissions and World Premieres
Season includes work by Jane Horrocks and Simon Stephens.
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Simon Stephens Joseph Marzullo/WENN

The biannual Manchester International Festival, which runs this year from June 29 to July 16, has announced the inaugural program of its incoming artistic director, John McGrath.

In a press statement McGrath commented, “I am thrilled to share the remarkable list of artists who are working with us to create this year’s Festival. These names, drawn from the United States, Egypt, Austria, China, France, Pakistan, Germany, and Iceland underscore how truly international MIF is.”

The festival comprises original, new work and special events from across the spectrum of performing arts, visual arts, and popular culture. Founded in 2007, it has previously commissioned, produced, and presented world premieres by artists including Björk, Steve McQueen, Robert Wilson, Wayne McGregor, Maxine Peake, Zaha Hadid Architects, Damon Albarn, Punchdrunk, Elbow, and Marina Abramović.

This year's theatre commissions include the following works:

  • Cotton Panic, an industrial music drama that tells the story of the North of England's role in the American Civil War in 1861, as the workers of Lancashire refused to break the embargo on cotton from the Confederate slave states. Created by Jane Horrocks, Nick Vivian, and Wrangler (featuring Stephen Mallinder of the Cabaret Voltaire), it is performed by Jane Horrocks and Wrangler and directed by Wils Wilson. It will be staged in Manchester's Upper Campfield Market Hall July 8–15.
  • Party Skills for the End of the World, described as a subversive experiential show, is created by theatrical innovators Nigel Barrett and Louise Mari. In a secret location, the audience will learn the essential skills needed to survive and thrive in a world where everything they’ve taken for granted has gone: skills ranging from how to make the perfect martini, to how to pick the best music to get everyone dancing; from tricks to entertain a terrified crowd to cleaning and stitching a wound. Even how to kill someone in a space the size of a telephone box. It will run June 27–July 16.
  • Dinner Party at the End of the World, inspired by Party Skills for the End of the World, will see Mancunian chef Mary-Ellen McTague devise a dinner party with a difference. Each evening, just 20 guests will share a special last supper, featuring food that explores themes of survival, extinction, scarcity, and opulence. It will run July 4–15.
  • Returning to Reims will receive its world premiere at Home, July 5–14. Thomas Ostermeier, artistic director of Berlin’s revered Schaubühne, will direct this reflection on the new world order, adapted from Didier Eribon’s controversial book. In a press statement, McGrath comments, “It is rare indeed for Berlin’s great Schaubuhne to open its newest work outside of its Berlin home, but in this extraordinary co-commission with MIF, the Schaubühne and HOME, we will see an entirely new creation from the company’s Artistic Director, Thomas Ostermeier, for the first time here in Manchester. Thomas is one of the most admired and exciting directors in the world, and I am truly honoured that he will be premiering this urgent new work with us.”
  • The Welcoming Party, a brand-new immersive production created by Theatre-Rites that is described as a site-specific mix of installation, live music, puppetry, and dance for families and children, will run July 4–6 at the Museum of Science and Industry.
  • What is the city but the People?, created by the people of Manchester from an idea by Jeremy Heller, will be the opening event of the festival on June 29. Raised high above the pavements, a unique selection of individuals from across Manchester will walk a specially designed runway stretching more than 100 meters through Piccadilly Gardens. Audiences, both in the streets and online, will watch as local residents parade the runway for this free event.
  • 10000 Gestures will see a 25-strong ensemble of dancers perform, in succession, 1,000 gestures, none repeated and every one unique, staged by European choreographer Boris Chamatz in Mayfield, a disused train station in the heart of the city, from July 13–15.
  • Fatherland, created by Frantic Assembly’s Scott Graham, Karl Hyde from Underworld, and playwright Simon Stephens, is a new show focusing on contemporary fatherhood and inspired by conversations with fathers and sons from the three co-authors’ hometowns across England. It will run at Manchester's Royal Exchange July 1–15.

To book tickets, and for further details, contact the box office on 0843 208 1840 or visit


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