Willem Dafoe to Star in Robert Wilson World Premiere at U.K.'s Manchester International Festival

News   Willem Dafoe to Star in Robert Wilson World Premiere at U.K.'s Manchester International Festival
Willem Dafoe is amongst the cast of the world premiere of The Life and Death of Marina Abramović, a biography of the grandmother of performance art reimagined by visionary director Robert Wilson, which will be staged as part of this year's Manchester International Festival.

Willem Dafoe
Willem Dafoe

It is one of more than 20 commissions, premieres and special events being created by leading artists from around the world specially for the festival, which will run June 30-July 17. Other major theatrical events will also include Punchdrunk's The Crash of the Elysium, which is billed as the immersive theatre company's first show for children; The Day that We Sang, a Manchester love story with singing created by beloved UK comic and writer Victoria Wood; Doctor Dee, a new work by director Rufus Norris and composer Damon Albarn inspired by the Renaissance alchemist, scientist and spy Dr. John Dee; a new theatre show from comic Jonny Vegas; and a three-week Manchester residency for performer Björk with the world premiere of her Biophilia live show.

The Life and Death of Marina Abramović, which will be staged at the Lowry Theatre, Salford Quays, on July 9, 11, 13, 15 and 16, will feature scenes from Abramović’s life and career, from her Serbian childhood to her work as a performance artist. Featuring original and traditional music, including songs written and performed by Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons), this show will bring together the worlds of theatre, art and music. Featuring Marina Abramović herself, Willem Dafoe and an international cast of actors and performance artists, this will be the first Robert Wilson production to be seen in the UK since The Temptation of St. Anthony in 2005. Following the dates in Manchester in 2011 the show will run in Madrid in April 2012, whose Teatro Real Madrid have commissioned it alongside the Manchester Internional Festival, with Theater Basel, Art Basel, Holland Festival and Salford City Council.

Punchdrunk, who previously created It Felt Like a Kiss for the MIT in 2009, will present The Crash of the Elysium for children aged 6-12 at the MediaCityUK Studios in Salford Quays. Written by screenwriter and author Tom MacRae and created by MacRae and Punchdrunk's Felix Barrett, the latter of whom also directs, it is commissioned by Manchester International Festival, BBC, London 2012 Festival and Salford City Council.

Johnny Vegas, who previously created Interiors for the 2007 MIF, will return to stage a new theatre show in the Festival's own performance space, the Pavilion Theatre on Albert Square. In a press statement, he said, "I'm reluctant to discuss the concept," so no further details are available yet.

Victoria Wood has been commissioned to create The Day We Sang for the festival, running at the Manchester Opera House with performances on July 6, 8-9, and 12-16. Inspired by one of Manchester’s most iconic music events, it is set in the summer of 1969 where Tubby, an overweight insurance man, and Enid, a buttoned up secretary, are back on the stage of the Free Trade Hall 40 years after they first stood there as children, singing their hearts out with Hallé orchestra. It's the anniversary of the Manchester School Children’s Choir recording of Nymphs and Shepherds. But Tubby and Enid don't sing any more – they’re just doing a little interview for local television. And they are not children with everything ahead of them, they are two middle-aged people who have left a lot of chances pass them by. Two stories unfold in Victoria Wood's new play: the children of 1929 are eagerly gearing up for the big day of the recording and in 1969, Tubby and Enid are trying to reconnect with who they were then, and who they could be now. Wood will both write and direct the show, which will feature a new Manchester Children's Choir, formed specially for this production, and members of the Hallé Youth Orchestra. It will be designed by Lez Brotherston, with musical direction by Nigel Lilley. To book tickets, contact the box office on 0161 876 2198, or visit www.mif.co.uk.

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