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Mother Courage and her Children, Royal Exchange

Theatre in Manchester

A sharp new adaptation of Brecht’s classic – Mother Courage and her Children (Royal Exchange, 8 Feb - 2 Mar) – written by Anna Jordan and headed up by Julie Hesmondhalgh in the title role.

Taking the audience inside a totalitarian state that monitors every act, word and thought of its citizens, 2084 (Manchester Central Library, 5-15 Feb) is an exciting new production inspired by Orwell’s dystopian novel.e.

Inspired by autobiographical events, SparkPlug (HOME, 13-23 Feb) is a punchy and poetic monologue which explores family, race, identity and love.

Dante or Die are on the road with a new staging of their 80’s inspired show Take On Me (Broughton Leisure Centre, 15 - 17 Feb) offering an intimate insight into the goings on at a local leisure centre.

LAST CHANCE. Starring Kenneth Alan Taylor, A Different Way Home (Oldham Coliseum, until - 9 Feb) tells a powerful story of prejudice, loss and love from two wildly different perspectives.

Oldham Coliseum presents a home-grown production of BAFTA and Academy Award-winning Martin McDonagh’s A Skull In Connemara (Oldham Coliseum, 22 Feb - 9 Mar).

There will be a few Arthur Miller revivals happening in 2019 but this one really shouldn’t go under your radar. Directed by David Thacker, we’ve got high hopes. The Last Yankee (Bolton Library Theatre, 28 Feb - 16 Mar).

Image credit: Caustic Coastal

Music in Manchester

Psappha’s Winter Reels (St Michael’s, 7 Feb) is an exciting new concert filled with much-admired music by John Casken, Knut Vaage and Naomi Pinnock, as well as a brand new work by Stephen Pratt.

Part opera, part oratorio, Berlioz’ The Damnation of Faust (The Bridgewater Hall, 10 Feb) is an epic retelling of the Faust story. Celebrated for its orchestral brilliance, this tempestuous work will be performed by the Hallé for the first time in seventy years.

The Lost Words: Spell Songs (RNCM, 10 Feb) brings together eight remarkable musicians, plus live illustrations by Jackie Morris, to respond to the art and language of creatures and plants.

Channelling the brooding atmospherics of Radiohead and The XX, Another Sky’s music is dark, cinematic and richly textured. Catch the politically-charged London band in the basement at YES on 11 February.

Enter the world of Ecstatic Material, a multi-sensory performance in which sound and substance transform in unpredictable fashion. Beatrice Dillon & Keith Harrison present Ecstatic Material (Caustic Coastal, 11 Feb).

Breathtaking pianist, violinist, composer and producer, Poppy Ackroyd (St Michael’s, 14 Feb) is bringing her elegant and dramatic neo-classical music to Manchester in February.

For the second night in the Marcus Intalex Music Foundation’s WK:END series, the inimitable Actress (Gorilla, 23 Feb) will play Manchester, alongside Martyn and dBridge.

Image credit: Simeon Barclay - Royal Flush, 2017

Exhibitions in Manchester

CFCCA presents Chinternet Ugly (Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, 8 Feb -12 May)  – a group exhibition that offers a rare glimpse behind the biggest digital boundary in the world: the Great Firewall of China.

Abandon Normal Devices presents a free, week-long exhibition investigating art, technology and citizenship in the age of the Internet. FREEPORT: Terminal MCR (University of Salford MediaCityUK Campus, 12 - 16 Feb).

Simeon Barclay: Life Room (The Holden Gallery, 8 Feb - 29 Mar), featuring new work by an artist from Huddersfield who discovered glamour, theatricality and a sense of aspiration between the pages of ‘Vogue’, and a love for industrial fabricating techniques during 16 years spent on the factory floor.

Join Head of Collections at the Royal Academy, Maurice Davis, for a fascinating look at some of the most remarkable items included in the world-renowned institution’s vast collection. Wonders and Horrors of the Royal Academy Collection (Salford Museum & Art Gallery, 11 Feb).

Sixteen (venues across Manchester, 15 Feb–15 Apr) is a nationwide photographic project that gives voice to the next generation of young people across Great Britain, who will live in a politically reshaped country divorced from the European Union.

Lowry & The Pre-Raphaelites (until 24 February) at The Lowry in Salford provides an unexpected insight into the artistic imagination of one of the UK’s most popular artists.

Martin Parr: Return to Manchester (Manchester Art Gallery, until 22 April) shows how the lives of Mancunians have changed but also reveals how there is continuity in how we live our lives, capturing the familiar in a new and wry way.

Photo Lemn Sissay

Literature in Manchester

Regular ‘afternoon of alternative poetries’ Peter Barlow’s Cigarette (Gullivers, 9 Feb) kicks off the new year with #30 and heads to the Northern Quarter with a special showcase of four poets: Dan Eltringham, Ágnes Lehóczky, Denise Riley and Gareth Twose.

Outspoken (No 70, 9 Feb) is back for LGBT History Month, with an afternoon of poetry and spoken word performance hosted by Mandla-Rae, Manchester poet and former young programmer, and featuring Ella Otomewo, Billie Meredith, Maz Hedgehog and Bryony Bates.

Manchester celebrates this year’s International Mother Language Day (21 Feb) through a number of exciting events taking place in various venues around the city.

Join Comma Press for a special day of free workshops and talks offering advice and insight into the world of translation; part of the annual International Mother Language Day celebrations. Manchester In Translation (Z-arts, 21 Feb).

Poetry at the regular free event at Whitworth Art Gallery comes courtesy Lavinia Greenlaw and Daljit Nagra, while the musical slot is filled by Thelonious Monk-inspired Blind Monk Trio. Poets & Players with Lavinia Greenlaw and Daljit Nagra (The Whitworth, 23 Feb).

Image credit: Wolfe Releasing, The Wise Kids

Cinema in Manchester

South Korean director Lee Chang Dong delivers a brilliantly executed, abstract but intellectually stimulating portrait of working class frustrations and contemporary alienation. Burning (HOME, 14 Feb).

Set over the course of their final year at high school, three teenage members of a South Carolina Baptist church wrestle with questions of body and spirit as they prepare to leave for college.The Wise Kids +Q&A (Number 70 Oxford Street, 7 Feb).

Bigger Than Life and Research in Arts and Humanities at Manchester Met present the first UK retrospective of the films of American independent film director Stephen Cone, at No. 70, Oxford Road this February. Bigger Than Life/ Four Films by Stephen Cone (Number 70 Oxford Street, 7-28 Feb).

This pitch black comedy follows loved-up couple, Chris and Tina, as they set off on their first holiday together. Tina is desperate to escape her sheltered life with her meddling mother, and Chris can’t wait to share the delights of a caravanning holiday. Sightseers (HOME,14 Feb).

The Village Screen pop-up cinema will be transforming Victoria Baths into a charming, candlelit cinema this February. Valentine’s Cinema (Victoria Baths, 15-16 Feb).

Grimmfest presents an zombie double bill in association with Horror Channel’s upcoming season. Grimmfest’s Zombie Double Bill (Stockport Plaza, 20 Feb).

Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen star in this engrossing story of a working class, Italian-American bouncer who takes a job chauffeuring an African American classical pianist across the American South in the 1960s. Green Book (HOME, until 14 Feb).

Image credit: Scranchester Tours

Tours & Activities in Manchester

Discover a world of escapism behind the Royal Exchange’s stage door as well as learning about the history of this architecturally fascinating theatre. Royal Exchange Backstage Tour (until 18 July).

Learn about the Bridgewater Hall’s fascinating architecture and acoustics in this informal tour of the building. Guided tour at The Bridgewater Hall (until 1 April).

Walk through Manchester’s Hacienda year with Ed Glinert. Starting at First Street, this tour shows you the buildings and sites of interest surrounding the cities booming indie scene at the end of the 20th Century. The Hacienda Years, New Manchester Walks (10 Feb).

Wander through the city centre immersing yourself in Manchester’s foody histories and culture with some scrumptious stops en route. Eat The City - Scranchester Tours (regular tours, see website for details).

Image credit: Science Museum Group

Family things to do in Manchester

Follow the dazzling 175-foot Dragon from Albert Square to Chinatown for music, acrobatics, dancing and a glittering firework finale. The Dragon Parade, Chinatown Celebrations and Fireworks (10 Feb).

The UK’s first immersive exhibition of the much-loved tales of Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler. Expect enchanting forests, miniature towns and watery worlds. A World Inside a Book: Gruffalo, Dragons and Other Creatures (Z-arts, 12 Feb–26 Oct).

Make tracks to see Stephenson’s Rocket, take part in Science Showdowns, have a hair-raising time at the Electricity exhibition and let loose at the Victorian Fairground. February half term events at Science and Industry Museum (18-22 Feb).

Best behaviour only at special open days to explore this gem of a Museum and meet guests from the force. Half Term Open Days at Greater Manchester Police Museum (Tues 19 & Thurs 21 Feb).

The People’s History Museum (Open daily, 10am - 5pm) is a recent winner of the national “Kids In Museums” award. Visit this national museum of democracy for interactive family galleries and regularly changing creative events.

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