Manchester Firsts – Manchester cultural organisations to premiere new work at Manchester International Festival

Manchester International Festival, the world’s first festival of original, new work, today announces Manchester Firsts – a distinctive strand of the Festival that celebrates the long-standing commitment of Manchester-based artists and organisations to the Festival’s aims of commissioning and producing innovative, new work.

All of the Manchester Firsts projects will have their world premiere at the 2007 Festival and feature an exciting range of work across film, visual and performing arts produced by a mix of leading individual artists and organisations based in Manchester. These currently include:

Castlefield Gallery: To the Left of the Rising Sun

An exhibition with live performance that engages with notions of the North – of myth and nostalgia, identity, nationalism, romanticism and the transformation of cultural identity. The exhibition is to be held at Castlefield Gallery with the live performance held in a found space in Manchester. The exhibition is curated by independent curator Cecilia Andersson and features artists from Scandinavia and the UK amongst others.

Community Arts North West: Exodus Live International Orchestra

The Exodus Live International Orchestra will feature musicians and bands from Manchester’s Refugee communities working with other locally based musicians. It will be launched in 2007 to create and perform a new orchestral piece specially commissioned for the Festival. The project will explore the links between music from around the world, in a melting pot of musical disciplines, instruments and sounds. There is an aim to expand the project over three years to create a large-scale orchestra for the Manchester International Festival in 2009.

Futuresonic: Manchester Peripheral

A Futuresonic project with Alastair Dant, Tom Davis & David Gunn (The Folk Songs Project) in partnership with The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. An interactive SoundMap enables audience members to be ‘urban sound jockeys’, remixing and replaying the sounds of Manchester. Working with community groups in four wards across Manchester including Ancoats and Clayton, Moss Side, Chorlton and Levenshulme, Manchester Peripheral aims to create an audio portal of each ward. Through this extensive community engagement the sounds recorded and used for the project will include street musicians, interviews with residents, local rappers and the ambient noises of school playgrounds and cricket matches. The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester has been chosen as the location for this interactive work to be showcased.

Performing Arts Network and Development Agency (PANDA): PANDA-MONIUM

PANDA presents a showcase of pioneering work from PANDA incubated companies: Hercules Productions, Ikebana; Pigeon Theatre; Running to Paradise and Upasana who are at the forefront of new performance in Manchester. Featuring work as wide-ranging as traditional Bharatanatyam dance to theatre created from and about inner city Manchester and including the first UK production of an American classic, parts of the showcase will be site-specific, created specially for Manchester city centre venues be they tiny pubs or splendid icons of gothic grandeur.

Rachel Davies: The Assembly

Rachel Davies makes film, video and animation that employs the themes of personal experience and travel to attempt to find truths in how we all navigate and recall our life experiences. Rachel’s project ‘The Assembly’ will be a film and music installation at Cornerhouse Gallery about Mancunian teenage experiences from the early 1980s to now – as told by past and present members of the Manchester Girls Choir. Rachel lived and grew up in Stockport and is a John Thaw Fellow of Manchester University, working with the Department of Drama on this project.

Shisha: ‘The Rusholme Project’

Led by two internationally renowned artists, Rashid Rana from Pakistan and Subodh Gupta from India, the Rusholme Project will create a number of spectacular site-specific works that engage with the urban architectural vernacular of Rusholme and aim to transform that neighbourhood. The Rusholme project will have a two- phase education and outreach programme involving local schools, colleges and community groups. Phase 1 involves 4 local artists and workshops with Claremont and St Edwards Schools in Rusholme in conjunction with Manchester Art Gallery. Phase 2 will take place in summer 2007 with the installation premiering during the Festival.

The Bruntwood Playwriting Competition for The Royal Exchange

In November 2005, Manchester based Property Company Bruntwood and The Royal Exchange Theatre launched a major national playwriting competition to search for the best original and unperformed new writing for the stage. With substantial cash prizes and high profile judges who include Lord Smith of Finsbury, Brenda Blythen, Kwame Kwei -Armah, Nicholas Hytner, Royal Exchange’s Artistic Director Braham Murray and Bruntwood Chairman Mike Oglesby, the competition attracted over 1800 completed scripts. Entries were submitted from all across the UK and the Republic of Ireland and the judges will announce the winners at a star-studded ceremony on the 18th September. Awards will be made to the best three plays, the best regional play and best play by a writer under 26 years, plus a bursary to be awarded for a year’s writer in residence. The Royal Exchange Theatre will be staging two of the winning plays during the Manchester International Festival and hosting a National Playwriting Conference to encourage the highest standards of new writing for the future.

Festival Director Alex Poots comments that: “Manchester Firsts is an exciting part of the Festival where selected artists and organisations from Manchester produce and present an exciting and diverse range of original, new work for next year’s festival.”

Peter Mearns, Director of Marketing at the Northwest Regional Development Agency comments:
“The North West has a strong pedigree in delivering world-class arts, and this selection of top quality local organisations and artists is a great reflection of Manchester’s cultural vibrancy.”

Region: All
Venue: Various
Venue Address: Manchester
Press Tickets: Not Specified
Sponsorship: Not Specified
Press Tickets:
Name: Ben Cleminson
Phone: 020 7428 4949