MIF23 features Maxine Peake, Slung Low, Blast Theory, Benji Reid and more

Published: 16 March 2023
Reporter: David Chadderton

Maxine Peake Credit: Paul Husband
Rakhi Singh and Adam Szabo, co-founders of Manchester Collective Credit: Robin Clewley
Philip Venables & Ted Huffman Credit: Dominic Mercier

The 2023 programme for the biennial Manchester International Festival has been announced, running from 29 June to 16 July.

Following The Masque of Anarchy, The Skriker and The Nico Project in previous MIFs and numerous collaborations at the Royal Exchange Theatre, actor Maxine Peake and director Sarah Frankcom once again team up, this time with movement director Imogen Knight, for They, an adaptation of Kay Dick's "dystopian masterpiece" They: A Sequence of Unease from 1977. The performance is described as "an afterhours reading" and will take place in Manchester's historic John Rylands Library.

Another literary adaptation from the 1970s is The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions. Composer Philip Venables and director Ted Huffman will present a world première musical adaptation of Larry Mitchell and Ned Asta’s cult 1977 book, "reimagining the history of the world through a queer lens".

Royal Exchange Theatre Joint Artistic Director Roy Alexander Weise will direct the 2019 Bruntwood International Prize winner untitled f*ck m*ss s**gon play by Kimber Lee at the Exchange in a co-production with Young Vic and Headlong, "wriggling inside of and then exploding lifetimes of repeating Asian stereotypes, wrestling history for the right to control your own narrative in a world that thinks it can tell you who you are."

Manchester photographer and theatre-maker Benji Reid will choreograph three performers to create live photography in front of the audience, "interlacing the action with recollection of resonant moments from his life," in Find Your Eyes.

Noah's Flood brings together Manchester Collective and Leeds-based Slung Low to stage Benjamin Britten's community opera with a cast including 180 children as "every bird and beast under the sun" and poet Lemn Sissay as the voice of God.

Blast Theory will collaborate with Manchester Street Poem for We Cut Through Dust, which "takes audiences on a walk through the city into the future guided by a series of phone calls."

German theatre group Rimini Protokoll will present the UK première of All right. Good night. based on the story of the plane that set off from Kuala Lumpur in 2014 and disappeared from the radar, written by Helgard Haug with a score from Barbara Morgenstern and arranger Davor Vincze.

There will be a night of dance and music at New Century Hall, R.O.S.E, from dance company L-E-V and record label Young, bringing "the dark hedonism of Sharon Eyal’s choreography and artistry of the L-E-V dancers off the stage and onto the dancefloor."

Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, known for, amongst other things, the soundtrack to the 1983 film Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence starring David Bowie, will collaborate with Tin Drum on a "mixed-reality concert event", for which audiences will "wear optically transparent devices to view the virtual Sakamoto performing on piano alongside dimensional art aligned with the music."

Trans pioneer and cabaret star Justin Vivian Bond will present "a raucous and seductive evening of songs and stories" with some special guests in One Night in Trans Vegas, produced by MIF in partnership with Trans Creative.

Music highlights include a three-day residency from Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Janelle Monáe including performances from Angélique Kidjo, Alison Goldfrapp and Sufi singer Sanam Marvi, the première of a new show from John Grant and the Richard Hawley band celebrating pop and country legend Patsy Cline and a world première by John Luther Adams inspired by Arctic landscapes performed by the BBC Philharmonic.

Other work includes a collaboration exploring art and the beautiful game by curator Hans Ulrich Obrist and footballer Juan Mata, new work by Tino Sehgal, a major exhibition of Yayoi Kusama’s inflatable sculptures You, Me and the Balloons, a city-wide quest for collectible coin artworks by Ryan Gander and a celebration of our connection to water on the banks of the River Medlock by Risham Syed and Angie Bual.

Manchester’s Festival Square relocates from Albert Square to the new Factory International building’s outdoor spaces with free live music from more than 100 performers and a variety of food and drink.

Tickets for MIF23 are on sale to Factory International members from 28 March and on general sale 30 March.

    Related listings

  • untitled f*ck m*ss s**gon play - Kimber Lee (Royal Exchange Theatre, Factory International for Manchester International Festival, Young Vic and Headlong)
  • The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions - Music by Philip Venables, text by Ted Huffman (Factory International for Manchester International Festival.)
  • They - Kay Dick, adapted and co-created by Maxine Peake, Sarah Frankcom and Imogen Knight. (Factory International for Manchester International Festival)