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.”
Everything All of the Time
Wed 6th Oct – Sat 9th Oct
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.
Black Gold Arts Festival
Tues 19th October – Fri 29th Oct 2021
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.
The Wicked Problem
Wed 3rd Nov – Sat 6th Nov 2021
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.
Tues 23rd Nov – Sat 27th November
Mika Onyx-Johnson’s Pink Lemonade combines original beats, poetry and movement in an explosive autobiographical journey of sexuality, identity and self-discovery.
Tues 30th November – Sat 4th December
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.
House of Ghetto presents The Black Pride Manchester Vogue Ball
Thu 18th December
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.
Dick Whittington and his Amazing Cat
Sat 11th Dec 2021 – Mon 3rd Jan 2022
Contact will be home to Dick Whittington and his Cat, Eight-Freestyle’s modern, upbeat telling of the classic rags-to-riches story.
News News News
Sat 5th Mar 2022
News News News is a television news show made by children for adults, recorded in front of a studio audience and broadcast live on the internet. Working with artists Andy Field and Beckie Darlington, children will present bulletins from the city, offering a distinctive look at what’s going on right here and right now.
Frankenstein: How to Create a Monster
Mon 9th May – Sat 14th May 2022
The BAC Beatbox Academy present an electrifying hour of song, soundscape and beatbox – all live, all made from the mouth. Through original music and spoken word the cast ask, in 2021, how to make a monster.
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.
All information surrounding Contact’s Autumn season can be found at contactmcr.com