Manchester Theatre Awards

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Making Contact

Contact Theatre’s summer season has been launched by Artistic Director Matt Fenton with support from members of the Contact Young Company and associate producers Young Identity.  

The theatre is known for producing plays relevant to young audiences and for developing future performers by way of the Contact Young Company (CYC). Not surprisingly, therefore, a centrepiece of the launch featured members of the CYC describing their experiences touring theatres and medical establishments with There is a Light :Brightlight – that sets out young people’s perspectives on specialist cancer care in England. The CYC will contribute to the new season with 15 Minutes inspired by the works of Andy Warhol.

But Contact Theatre cannot be accused of concentrating solely on the concerns of young adults. The Lounge from Inspector Sands addresses issues arsing from an ageing society while We Come From Far Far Away is aimed at families and will be performed in, well, a Mongolian Yurt erected within the theatre.

The companies involved in these productions are international which is appropriate as 2017 sees The Manchester International Festival (MIF) return to the region. Contact is involved in the Festival with Flexn Residency. Reggie ‘Regg Roc’ Gray, who directed FlexN Manchester one of the hits of the 2015 MIF, will be introducing young dancers to the FlexN dance style and working with Young Identity to explore new ways of telling stories through words and movement.

Of course the new season features productions that are typically challenging with Swear School (recommended for those over 18 years old) on the history, definition and use of swearing. Scorch tells of first love through the perception of a gender-curious teen and former CYC member and stand up Sophie Willan returns with Wild on her struggles with normalcy.

Dance is featured with, amongst others Leviathan in which Melville’s classic Moby Dick is told by way of athletic dance and martial arts.

In a season that features something for everyone there is even a welcome hint of cynicism. Contact seems to have noticed that the Manchester region is obsessed with football and their current, and the next two, seasons all feature plays themed around the beautiful game. In the summer season Offside tells stories of women’s football using poetry, and punchy prose.

David Cunningham