Opal's Comet: The Canal-Based Theatre Show Coming to Manchester this Autumn

Drawing on creation, myths and oral storytelling tradition, Opal’s Comet is a tragic, short story written in response to recent global and personal events.

By Emma Davidson | 7 September 2022

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Arts-producing organisation, Mr Wilson’s present a visual theatre and song project, Opal’s Comet, the canal-based production conceived and written by Sonya ‘Boo’ Moorhead. Opal’s Comet is a journeying song cycle, touring from late August to late November 2022, along the UK’s inland waterways and is performed entirely from a canal boat.

This Autumn, Opal’s Comet will partake in an outdoor performance tour of the North of the UK, having begun its journey at Burnley Canal Festival (28-29 August), next onto Littleborough Arts Festival (24-25 September), in Leeds via Canal Connections (9 Oct), at HOME MCR as part of Manchester Folk Festival on 14-15 October, in Liverpool with the Canal and River Trust between 26 Oct-6 Nov, and culminating in an appearance at Wigan Light Night on 18-19 November. All performances are free to the public. 

Drawing on creation myths and oral storytelling tradition, Opal’s Comet is a tragic, short story written by Mr Wilson’s Artistic Director, Sonya ‘Boo’ Moorhead. In response to recent global and personal events the story was written in 2021 and takes an allegorical form. It questions how we might navigate personal grief, loss and transformation as, globally, we veer towards social collapse and climate crisis.

Speaking of the project, Sonya said: “In 2020 and 2021 our families and communities experienced so much sadness and loss. Mr Wilson’s is known for colourful, musical celebrations but not everyone is ready to jump back into that. This year we have created something exceptionally beautiful and hopeful – Opal’s Comet meets people on their own terms, in their own neighbourhood and offers time and space to reflect.” 

The Opal’s Comet tour is a way to present this epic and hopeful story within the local landscape. Artists Steve Gumbley and Andy Plant were commissioned to visualise and create a sculptural response to the Golden Barge, which will be transported along the canal for each performance.

Mr Wilson’s is a celebrated arts-producing organisation based in Burnley. The collective of musicians who will perform the Opal’s Comet song cycle for Mr Wilson’s are; Sonya ‘Boo’ Moorhead as singer songwriter and director (Artistic Director, Mr Wilson’s and singer songwriter, The Greyhounds), John Ellis on piano (The Greyhounds, The Breath, Cinematic Orchestra) and Sarah Dale on cello (The Greyhounds, Stella Parton, Little Sparrow). Rachael Gladwin on harp (Guy Garvey, Corinne Bailey Rae) is also joining the line-up for the Burnley and Manchester performances.

Opal’s Comet offers audiences and participants the opportunity to slow down and take stock, to celebrate shared values, pay homage to those we’ve lost and discuss how we might navigate a new future. 

The journey of Opal’s Comet can also be accessed and followed remotely via live social media broadcasts, podcasts and other digital documentation of the artwork, music and journey. For more information and links see the official web page below.