Manchester’s Contact theatre return to their iconic Oxford Road venue with a vibrant reopening programme to support the next generation of audiences, artists and young people.


Contact, the UK’s leading theatre and arts venue with young people at its heart, reopens its doors to the public this month for the first time since December 2017 following a major building redevelopment and the challenges of a global pandemic. This next stage in the building’s evolution sees Contact return with new and improved performance spaces; a purpose-built recording studio for young people’s music projects; a unique health and science development space created in partnership with Wellcome Trust; new offices for artists and cultural organisations to hire and work alongside Contact staff; a new and improved public bar; free work and social spaces; a new partnership with Manchester’s Indian street food heroes, Chaat Cart, and many other exciting new features.

Matt Fenton, Chief Executive and Artistic Director at Contact said: “We are overjoyed to be reopening Contact to the public after 2 years of building works, and the challenges of the global pandemic. It feels right that our first show is from Contact Young Company. We believe young people deserve the very best resources to create and imagine, and over the last year our new building has been full of early-career artists making use of our brilliant new spaces. We have also renewed our vision and mission to reflect the new reality facing our communities, and to ensure all young people are empowered by the arts and creativity.”

Contact’s performance programme kicks off in October with Contact Young Company’s Everything All of the Time, directed by Contact’s Artistic Director, Matt Fenton. Everything All of the Time is a physical and visual journey through a new world, squashed into an hour of hedonism, love, anger, nostalgia and hope.

Contact and Black Gold Arts will come together during Black History Month to deliver a line-up of outstanding Black-led art, performance and film, featuring the live world premiere of mandla rae’s stunning ‘as british as a watermelon’ and films from Chanje Kunda and Mele Broomes.

Performance

Commissioned by Contact and Re:Con (Contact Young Producer’s), ERGON Theatre present The Wicked Problem, where audiences act as the jury in the world's first ecocide trial. Mika Onyx-Johnson’s Pink Lemonade combines original beats, poetry and movement in an explosive autobiographical journey of sexuality, identity and self-discovery. Dibby Theatre and HIV+ theatre-maker Nathaniel Hall - star of hit Channel 4 series It’s a Sin - present First Time, an award-winning, hilarious and heart-breaking autobiographical show about growing up positive in a negative world.

Performance

The Black Pride Manchester Vogue Ball presented by Contact and House of Ghetto will be hosted in December by the legendary Rikki Beadle-Blair, featuring the fiercest QTIBIPoC vogue houses in the North at legendary Manchester venue Gorilla. And Contact will be home to Dick Whittington and his Cat, Eight-Freestyle’s modern, upbeat telling of the classic rags-to-riches story.

Additional events, shows and exhibitions include Sisterhood by Speakers Corner Art Director Neesha Tusli Champaneria and photographer Vivek Vadoliya, Come to my Mum’s by Afreena Islam-Wright and Anthology of Joy by The Museum of Half Truths.

Throughout redevelopment, Contact worked with local, national and international artists to create new models of arts engagement. In particular, they supported the expansion of The Agency, a youth enterprise project that works with young people to create social enterprises, events, projects and businesses that will have a positive impact on their local communities. 

During closure, the organisation also presented Contact in the City, a year-long diverse programme of performance taking place in partner venues and unexpected spaces, and, throughout the COVID-19 crisis, has​​ continued to host long-running music, drama and youth leadership programmes, and provide rehearsal space for early-career artists in Greater Manchester.

Junior Akinola, Chair of the Board of Trustees at Contact said: “After such a long time away from our building it’s a great feeling to know our doors are finally ready to re-open. I believe our ambitions are limitless and I can’t wait to see how this new chapter adds to the legacy of our great building. As always the development of young people and the community are at the hub of everything we do and we plan to continue our rich history in thrilling, challenging and entertaining all our audiences.”

Nathaniel Hall (It’s A Sin), theatre-maker, HIV activist and creator of First Time said: “Contact is where my journey as an artist really began. Their Young Company nurtured my talent and having access to the diverse creatives with a passion for community-led arts that inhabit the building made me into the artist I am today. I am over the moon that Dibby Theatre are bringing the autumn tour of First Time to a close on one of my favourite stages in Manchester alongside a whole host of exciting wrap-around events, talks, film screenings and parties.”

The project has been funded thanks to a £3.85million investment from Arts Council England plus generous grants from other supporters, trusts and foundations.

Performance


LISTINGS

Everything All of the Time

Wed 6 Oct – Sat 9 Oct 2021

7.30

Sisterhood

Mon 27 of Sept – Mon 6 Dec 2021

Open exhibition

Anthology of Joy

Fri 8 Oct – Sat 23 October 2021

Open exhibition

Black Gold Arts Festival

Tues 19 October – Fri 29 Oct 2021

Various times

Ergon: The Wicked Problem

Wed 3 Nov – Sat 6 Nov 2021

7.30pm

Pink Lemonade

Tues 23 Nov – Sat 27 November 2021

7.30pm

First Time

Tues 30 Nov – Sat 4 Dec 2021

7.30pm

House of Ghetto presents The Black Pride Manchester Vogue Ball

Thu 18 Dec 2021

7pm

Dick Whittington and his Amazing Cat

Sat 11 Dec 2021 – Mon 3 Jan 2022

Various times

Queer Contact

Fri 11 Feb – Sat 19 Feb 2022

Time TBC

News News News

Sat 5 Mar 2022

6pm

The Bread We Break

Thu 24 Mar – Thu 31 Mar 2022

Time TBC

Frankenstein: How to Create a Monster

Mon 9 May – Sat 14 May 2022

Time TBC

The Glad Game

Mon 16 May – Tues 17 May 2022

Time TBC

All information surrounding Contact’s Autumn season can be found at contactmcr.com.

Related

Contact Theatre
Theatre
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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