HOME presents Angel Meadow

HOME Manchester presents the world premiere of Angel Meadow, the first in a series of site-specific productions taking place around Manchester.

By Matthew Tyas | May 15th '14

HOME Manchester presents the world premiere of Angel Meadow, (www.HOMEmcr.org/Angel-Meadow),the first in a series of site-specific productions taking place around Manchester in the lead-up to the opening of the £25m centre for theatre, film, and art in spring 2015.

Photo by Graeme Cooper

Photo by Graeme Cooper

Hailed by The Irish Times as the company responsible for “the most searing and provocative works of the past decade”, the multi award-winning Dublin based ANU Productions are building a reputation for consistently creating ground- breaking theatre. Placing the audience at the very centre of their work, the performance site explodes with forceful energy, as the audience enter a world that is fast, furious and ultimately captivating.

Their latest production Angel Meadow, launching HOME’s first season of theatre, is inspired by the 19th century experience of Irish migrants escaping poverty and famine for a better life in industrial Manchester. A raw enactment of the lives of the Irish community settling in Ancoats, it will ignite aesthetics and politics, and the historic and the contemporary, in a controlled explosion of cold rage.

Their latest production Angel Meadow, launching HOME’s first season of theatre, is inspired by the 19th century experience of Irish migrants escaping poverty and famine for a better life in industrial Manchester.

Through intimate encounters and installations, the audience is brought on an immersive journey in contemporary Ancoats, an area now undergoing extensive regeneration but once described as ‘Hell Upon Earth’ by Friedrich Engels, co- author of the Communist Party Manifesto, in his book The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844.
A revelatory site-specific experience, Angel Meadow will take place in a disused pub that history has left behind. This theatrical haunting of Ancoats is an ambitious, multi-layered response to the waves of Irish migrants who lived here.

“The name Angel Meadow conjures up an image of fresh air and sunshine,” says director Louise Lowe, “but our research tells us it was anything but. We know from archives and oral histories that life here was overcrowded and dangerous. Gangs of scuttlers roamed large, and territorial combat was a way of life.

“The community worked hard and lived hard, living cheek by jowl in perpetual twilight. We’re not making a documentary, and that is one reason why we involve the audience so centrally in the piece. Their contribution, even though it will be different each performance, is crucial.”

Renowned for their interdisciplinary approach, ANU Productions draw influences across visual art, performance, cinema and dance. Angel Meadow has been devised with research spanning from the origins of this site to the ritual superstitions that the Irish migrants brought with them.

It is also influenced by savagely imbued consciousness of post-war slaughterhouse workers in Paris, documented by George Franju in Le Sang de Betes (Blood of the Beast), to the smog-fuelled work-ethic and unionism of

Britain’s industrial workers, and combines the familiarity of the saturated realism of Martin Parr, the loneliness of Gillian Wearing’s Everyone’s Got A Secret, the ferocity of DV8, and the deathly beauty of Goya…

The actors involved in Angel Meadow have worked extensively with the company and are delighted to reunite for this production. The eight actors are Dee Burke, Caitriona Ennis, Will Irvine, Úna Kavanagh, Jed Murray, Laura Murray, Eric O’Brien – whose face is on the Angel Meadow poster and banners across the city centre – and Thomas Reilly.
Walter Meierjohann, HOME’s Artistic Director for Theatre, is delighted to have secured ANU Productions to present the first-ever production under the HOME banner.

“Our site-specific season for 2014 is a taste of things to come at HOME,” he says, “and we are delighted to have Louise and her team with us in Manchester”.

“The common thread we’re interrogating is the idea of belonging, and this exploration of the Irish community in Angel Meadow from ANU Productions will make for the ideal opening production for our site-specific season. It’s an exciting, and slightly unusual time for us in the run-up to the opening of HOME in spring 2015, and the adventurous programming reflects this. All the works are questioning and ambitious artistic projects that involved audiences with new and extraordinary theatrical experiences.”

Angel Meadow is the first production of HOME’s site-specific season for 2014/15. It will be followed by Romeo and Juliet directed by Walter Meierjohann at Victoria Baths – the Grade II* listed building which won the BBC’s Restoration programme in 2003 (Wednesday 10 September – Saturday 4 October) – and then three productions at Number One First Street – The Best of BE (Birmingham European) Festival (Friday 17/Saturday 18 October); The Events, presented by ATC (Wednesday 22 October – Saturday 25 October); and re:play Festival (Monday 12 – Saturday 24 January 2015).

www.HOMEmcr.org/Angel-Meadow
Tuesday 10 – Sunday 29 June 2014