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MIF returns to Manchester with a snapshot of the past year

Published: 28 April 2021
Reporter: David Chadderton

Deborah Warner Credit: Claire Egan
Boris Charmatz Credit: Manchester International Festival
Cillian Murphy Credit: Cillian Murphy

Manchester International Festival 2021 will feature indoor, outdoor and online performances from artists including Angélique Kidjo, Akram Khan, Arlo Parks, Aaron and Bryce Dessner, Boris Charmatz, Cerys Matthews, Christine Sun Kim, Cillian Murphy, Deborah Warner, Forensic Architecture, Ibrahim Mahama, Kemang Wa Lehulere, Laure Prouvost, Marta Minujín, Lemn Sissay and Patti Smith.

Festival Square will move from its previous home in Albert Square to Cathedral Gardens, bringing its usual programme of food, doing and free live music. Expect curated nights from Jamz Supernova, Homoelectric, Mr Scruff and DJ Paulette along with many more artists and performers from across the UK.

The site of MIF’s future home, The Factory, will feature in a sound and light installation, Arcadia, from opera and theatre director Deborah Warner. Audiences will wander through a field of luminous tents to a soundscape of poetry inspired by the natural world from Sappho to Simon Armitage and from William Blake to Sabrina Mahfouz, featuring recorded contributions from leading actors and musicians including Simon Russell Beale, RoxXxan, Jane Horrocks, Brian Cox, Lionness and David Thewlis.

French choreographer Borus Charmatz will create a new outdoor dance work, Sea Change, that will fill Deansgate with a chain of professional and non-professional dancers including more than 150 local residents.

At HOME’s gallery and across the city, curator Hans Ulrich Obrist and poet Lemn Sissay collaborate on Poet Slash Artist, bringing together poets who work with visual art and visual artists who work with poetry from Tracey Emin to Inua Ellams, Imtiaz Dharker to Sky Hopinka, Lubaina Himid to Adonis. Cerys Matthews will also curate a special live event celebrating words and music.

All of This Unreal Time is a new film starring Cillian Murphy, written by Max Porter and directed by Aoife McArdle with music by Aaron Dessner, Bryce Dessner and Jon Hopkins, which candidly examines one man’s failings, presented at MIF21 as an immersive installation in surround sound.

Marking 25 years of Theatre-Rites, The Global Playground mixes dance, music , theatre and puppetry for children and family audiences, choreographed by Gregory Maqoma and scored by Ayanna Witter-Johnson, which considers how we connect and sometimes disconnect and how we make the most of the time we spend together.

MIF’s online channel MIF LIVE, created during lockdown, will return for the Festival, with a mixture of performance, live music, interviews and a range of commentary and talks. Online audiences will also be able to visit the Virtual Factory, online artworks inspired by the architecture and the ambition of the building.

The festival runs from 1 to 18 July 2021. Tickets will be on sale on from 20 May 2021.