Water Fools waterborne spectacular

Ilotopie performs on the waters of the Manchester Ship Canal, giving audiences a magical experience.

By Matthew Tyas | 16 July 2013

Share this story

Internationally acclaimed theatre company, Ilotopie performs on the waters of the historic Manchester Ship Canal, giving audiences a magical experience of light, laughter and lasting memories after wowing audiences in Europe, Asia and the US.


A car appears to float effortlessly on water as it tows a caravan behind, a giant bed is rowed gracefully by a person in their pyjamas and a refuse collector glides across the shining surface with his wheelie bin beside him. These visions, the stuff of incredible dreams, will be made real as Ilotopie’s Water Fools brings spectacular theatre and thrilling pyrotechnics to the open water of The Quays, Greater Manchester’s waterfront on Saturday 20 July at 9.30pm.

For the first time, a breath-taking theatrical performance will take place directly on the surface of the Manchester Ship Canal as Water Fools invites audiences into a world of waterborne magic between The Lowry and MediaCityUK, now home to BBC North. The action starts as a man’s head inexplicably appears to burst into flames, simultaneously catapulting him from his humdrum life and triggering a dreamlike sequence of extraordinary happenings with each scene staged on the shimmering water.

Devised by innovative French artist, Bruno Roubicek, the entire performance will be punctuated by stunning fireworks, introducing audiences of all ages to a series of mysterious, playful characters as they float into the action. The backdrop of the dark night sky will give Ilotopie’s pyrotechnic experts a blank canvas on which to devise their rapid-fire light show, whilst Roubicek’s range of characters ride bikes, parade floating islands and walk giant paddle wheels across the water.

Presented by Quays Culture, the event is free to audiences and is the first in series of signature events leading up to the first edition of a brand new Quays Festival, set to take place for the first time in 2015.

Lucy Dusgate, Programme Manager for Quays Culture, said: “Water Fools is a performance like no other and has to be seen to be believed. As an innovative, yet thoughtful piece of theatre, it has previously transformed the harbours of Sydney, Chicago and Singapore into magical, imaginary worlds. Now it’s Greater Manchester’s turn and audiences from across the region are invited to share in the experience as we see The Quays transformed in the same way.”

The Water Fools experience will be accompanied by a free talk (booking essential) at The Lowry, where Bruno Roubicek will discuss environmental arts practice, the use of outdoor settings and future ways of living and engaging with the landscape with Bill Mitchell from renowned outdoor theatre company, Wildworks from 7pm.

Following the success of NVA’s Speed of Light, which saw hundreds of runners flood the areas around The Lowry, MediaCityUK and IWM North while wearing futuristic LED light suits in March 2013, Water Fools marks a new phase of cultural programming for the area. Plans for the first Quays Festival is part of plans to ensure The Quays is included in and has the opportunity to lead debate around the role of art at the Global Waterfront in the 21st Century.

Quays Culture presents: Water Fools by Ilotopie
Saturday 20 July 2013, 9.30pm
On the dock between The Lowry and MediaCityUK, The Quays, Greater Manchester
Duration: 45 magical minutes

Bruno Roubicek in conversation with Bill Mitchell
Saturday 20 July 2013, 7pm
FREE (booking essential)
Studio One, The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, M50 3AZ
Tickets: www.thelowry.com or 0843 208 6000