Before 2011 comes to an end, I thought I’d reflect on my favourite arts events. Read up on my January – June cultural things
The month of festivals. 2011 saw my first time to 24:7 Theatre Festival at three Manchester city centre ventures where I watched 12 out of the 13 plays on offer, from the love-across-time of Future Shock (which you can catch in January as part of Re:Play) to the dark, stunning I Know Where the Dead are Buried and the brilliant family show Peggy and the Spaceman. A fun and friendly festival with a great sense of community to it. Call for submissions for 2012 scripts is open til 9 January on the 24:7 Theatre Festival website.
There was also Manchester International Festivalwhich saw Damon Albarn’s Dr Dee premiere along with Björk’s Biophilia, receiving rave reviews. Other highlights were getting up and boogying in my local church with Candi Staton. The Punchdrunk immersive performance Crash of the Elysium was Dr Who-tastic. Thank goodness there were eventually tickets for adults, not just children.
Also found time to leave Manchester and head for Southwold, Suffolk for Latitude. Gorgeous times, in spite of the rain. Suede, The National and Jenny and Johnny particular highlights, along with a live edition of Never Mind The Buzzcocks.
When I think of August I think of Reclaim Project and their work with a great group of talented young people during Summer project Truth About Youth. As well as getting the fantastic, if daunting, opportunity to talk with the group about blogging and igniting your passions, I went along to their showcase which was brilliant. So much talent on display.
Another trip for a non Manchester festival took me back home to Reading for a Pulp pilgrimage. Superb, everything I could ever have hoped for from one of the best British bands ever. Jarvis’s banter did not disappoint. A life highlight, not just 2011. Read the NME review which includes full set list.
Unbelievably I had a story published, in an actual book! I started writing short stories in April – primarily as essay avoidance – and was stunned to get through the open submissions for the excellent and smutty ‘Quickies’ anthology by Manchester’s #Flashtag Writers. The book launched with a reading evening as part of Didsbury Arts Festival. Lots of fun and some fantastic stories. Read a bit more about the night at Creative Times.
The other highlight of September was Theatre Ad Infinitum bringing Translunar Paradise to The Lowry’s Studio theatre (the place to go for fab fringe theatre – get along there for quality, smaller scale productions). Translunar Paradise was the most stunning piece of theatre I have probably ever seen. Achingly beautiful.
Another very busy month of events for Manchester. First up, Creative Tourist’s Manchester Weekender. Highlights of my Weekender were a guided tour of Adolphe Valette’s Manchester followed by an exhibition of his work at The Lowry. Read more about about day 2 and day 3 of my Weekender. For a different perspective on the weekend, read the excellent Manhattanchester blog.
Then there was Manchester Literature Festival with its impressive array of events for pretty much any word-loving audience. Personally, I found the Linda Chase tribute event to be a moving experience, but don’t just take my word for it on the festival, MLF has a great blog rounding up every single event, by local bloggers, guest writers and Festival staff. Again, as with 24:7 – both MLF and the Weekender have a great community feel to them, opportunities to get involved, try new things and meet new people.
The Manchester Contemporary was also brilliant, discovered some great artists whose careers I will hungrily follow from now on, including Anna Barham, Laura Lancaster and Samantha Donnelly. More on that in my Creative Times blog.
November was about art and shopping. The already-exciting Blank Media Collective got even more exciting with the launch of a brand new Title Art Prize, for emerging contemporary artists. When I went along I really struggled to decide who’d get my vote for the People’s Choice award. In the end none of my top 3 won any of the prizes, but I look forward to the winner, Joe Doldon’s solo show at the BLANKSPACE gallery in 2012.
And so to shopping. A live literature event in a beautiful city centre shop. Six new stories from six different writers, from the local Bad Language and #Flashtag collectives. Re:Tale was quirky, fun and most importantly featured great writing. Read more on the Re:Tale blog.
A new job (going very well, thanks for asking) has severely curtailed time for Cultural Shenanigans. However! I was very pleased to be introduced to a brand new, monthly, live storytelling night (true stories!) Tales of Whatever is an excellent, friendly gathering where stories of all kinds are welcomed and encouraged. Pop along for the next one, 11 January at the Castle Hotel, Oldham Street.
Talking of January, coming soon, some selected highlights of potential Cultural Shenanigans for the new year will follow very soon…