Can you believe its been two years since the last Manchester International Festival? Well it’s back for another sell-out month of events across dance, music, drama and art across from of Manchester’s best-known and recently rediscovered venues.
Some events, such as the adaptation of Macbeth starring Kenneth Branagh have hit the headlines – and have sold out well in advance. But there are still lots of events to soak up. Here’s our pick of the best:
Matt Charman’s The Machine (10 – 21 July, Campfield Market Hall) captures one of modern history’s thrilling battles with a dramatisation of the defining game of our generation – between chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov and super-computer Deep Blue. Maxine Peake leads in a dramatic reinterpretation of Shelley’s 1819 polemic about the Peterloo Massacre, The Masque of Anarchy (12-14 July, Albert Hall). Staged close to the site of the actual massacre in the atmospheric Albert Hall it looks to be a brave staging of issues just as relevant in today’s fractured climate. BBC Radio’s Evan Davis will host a debate on protest, the financial crisis and the issues raised by The Masque of Anarchy on 6 July. And there’s a second chance to see Macbeth with Kenneth Branagah and Alex Kingston thanks to a big screen video relay of Macbeth (20 July, Bridgewater NCP).
do it 20 13 (5 – 21 July, Manchester Art Gallery) aims to create groundbreaking new art – by using you! Created from instructions written by artists, this evolving exhibition has everything from the thoughtful to the ridiculous, via the sublime. Beginning life in 1993, this 20th anniversary show is split into four areas: The Active, The Homage, The Archive and Film Rooms. We’ll be going along to take part in exhibition – will you?
Movements such as Feed the 5K and the IF Campaign have highlighted rising food prices, growing populations and the struggles we might have to feed ourselves. MIF explores these questions with an interactive space on the banks on the River Irwell in Salford. The Biospheric Project (5-21 July, Irwell House) is part farm, part laboratory and part research centre. A series of events will look to explain how these experiments will spearhead a new way of urban living. With partners including Manchester Metropolitan University and Queens University, Belfast, this project is helping to put Manchester on the map for sustainable living.
The Whitworth Art Gallery is throwing its doors for 65 hours straight for Indian artist Nikhil Chopra’s performance of Coal on Cotton (5-7 July, Whitworth Art Gallery). Exploring the relationship between two materials that made Manchester during the 19th century but hold workers in slavery now this bold piece will ask important questions of its audience.
Music also plays an important part in the festival this year. Massive Attack and Adam Curtis seek to redefine what ‘the gig’ means with an atmospheric light and sound show (5-13 July, Mayfield Depot). Internationally acclaimed Argentinian pianist Martha Argerich plays the Bridgewater Hall in 12 July whilst every night DJ’s will be spinning the decks at Festival Square. You can explore the History of Grime: Rebels With a Cause at the Pavillion Theatre on 11 July and fresh from Glastonbury alternative act The XX’s play The Ritz on 9 July.
Don’t forget the hub of all things MIF is Festival Square in front of the Town Hall. With performances, food, drink and the MIF Box Office, it’s the heart of the festival in the heart of Manchester.