An autumn season of digital and live events presented by Manchester’s Contact Theatre kicks off this October with a celebration of Black History Month, Black Gold Arts Festival, headlined by Metro columnist and trans performer Travis Alabanza. Plus, there’ll be a chance for the public to get a glimpse of Contact’s newly extended and refurbished theatre spaces, with their first socially-distanced performance tour.

Contact has also teamed up with legendary Mancunian poet Tony Walsh aka Longfella (who famously penned a poignant tribute to the victims of the Manchester bombing) to highlight the devastation of the live events industry during Covid-19, putting the careers and livelihoods of artists, freelancers and cultural practitioners in jeopardy.

Tony Walsh aka Longfella
Tony Walsh aka Longfella. Image Credit: VisionHaus

Using Longfella’s poem ‘Arts and Minds’, Contact will be spearheading a cultural rallying cry from Northern arts venues. Arts and Minds is a heartfelt celebration of the arts, and caused a stir when it was performed live during his set at Our City Speaks, a livestreamed poetry event presented by Contact, Manchester City of Literature and Young Identity as part of United We Stream GM in May 2020.

To kick off the season during Black History Month, Contact hosts the return of Black Gold Arts Festival on Friday 23 - Sunday 25 October. The festival theme of Decolonising Theatre is explored through an important symposium event, and the festival includes an opening event with Travis Alabanza, new artist film commissions, a female-DJ-MC extravaganza, and a Black queer Manchester Garden Party.

The festival will features a performance of High Rise Theatre’s show, Lil.Miss.Lady. An immersive grime rave, held in the comfort of your own home, the show is part rave and part drama. Initially penned for a UK tour following performances at Latitude Festival and the Roundhouse, the concept has been revitalised for digital audiences.

All event are on sale now on a pay-what-you-decide basis, and income goes towards supporting the work of Black Gold Arts.

Contact’s own award-winning Young Company return with The Starter Kit, their first ever online performance. Created via workshops and discussions throughout lockdown with artists Amy Vreeke, Keisha Thompson and Javaad Alipoor, they’ll investigate social movements, and the tools we need to re-imagine the future, via a frisky, funny and interactive show. The Starter Kit takes place Wednesday 4 - Saturday 7 November, with performances at 6pm and 8.30pm. Tickets are on sale from early October.

On Saturday 21 November, Contact and Word of Warning present Emergency 2020, the first live performance to take place at the venue since Contact completed their two-year building expansion project. Around ten brand new live works have been created for a socially distanced audience who will experience each work in turn via a guided tour through the venue. Tickets are on sale from Friday 13 November.

LINK UP is a chance to catch up with the work of four young Contact artists as a trailblazer event in advance of Contact’s annual Queer Contact Festival in 2021. Apple TV’s Adam Ali, Mandla Rae, Mark Croasdale and Roma Havers will be in conversation discussing their new projects at this digital event on Wednesday 25 - Thursday 26 November.

From there, Contact will be heading into the festive season via a disco with a difference, and the whole family’s invited.

Fully inclusive, and back after its premiere performances in 2018 at Hope Mill Theatre, Forest of Forgotten Discos! returns Friday 4 - Saturday 5 December to bring the show right into your homes. This zoom-based family dance party features a cast of reimagined fairytale characters, from three grumpy bears to fearless runaway Red - plus a helping hand from a digital assistant!

Forest of Forgotten Discos! is a fully inclusive show for ages 4+. Performance are accessible to D/deaf audience members through the use of creative sign language, and visual storytelling, and accessible to blind and visually impaired people through the integration of creative audio description. Tickets on sale from November.

Finally, following two successful digital versions earlier this year One Mic Stand - Online is back on Friday 11 December, from Manchester’s foremost young spoken word collective, Young Identity. In this fast-paced poetry slam, ten performers are given only three minutes each to impress both the audience and judges with their mastery of words and rhyme, alongside some very special guests.

Contact’s Artistic Director and Chief Executive Matt Fenton said:

Since lockdown our staff have been working flat out to deliver our young people’s and community activity without interruption, first online, and now in the new creative spaces of the refurbished Contact. After two years of building works, it was gutting not to be able to welcome the public to our planned re-opening in

September. Instead, we’re delighted to announce an alternative Autumn programme online.

 

With a theme of decolonising theatre, Black Gold Arts Festival is a burst of energy and activism this Black History Month. It’s followed by some of the things that make Contact great – a new show from Contact Young Company with Keisha Thompson and Javaad Alipoor; a taster of Queer Contact Festival; and an accessible family Christmas disco courtesy of Jackie Hagan and Nickie Miles-Wildin. We’ve even got a live performance tour of the building itself for Emergency 2020, featuring 1ten north-west artists. We hope you can join us, in any way you can.”

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Contact Theatre
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Contact Theatre Exterior

We are Contact. Fiercely Northern but with an international outlook, we are a theatre and performing arts venue on Manchester’s Oxford Road.

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