Today sees the opening of the fourth Manchester International Festival, with events ranging from the staging of Macbeth, featuring Kenneth Branagh as Shakespeare’s protagonist to performances by bands such as TheXX to art exhibitions featuring the work of artists such as Tracey Emin.
The full program is here, but I wanted to pick out three events worth seeing if you get the chance.
The first is Masque of Anarchy; a 91-verse epic widely regarded as the greatest political poem in British history written in response to the Peterloo massacre.
A new interpretation of this classic work will be delivered by actress Maxine Peake (Shameless, Silk) and director Sarah Frankcom (Artistic Director, Royal Exchange Theatre) in the impressive Albert Hall. This will not be one to miss; bringing together Manchester's past with a contemporary vision and remembering that past shaped the country we know today.
The second is Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait with Mogwai performing live, the soundtrack they composed for the film. One of the most beguiling portrayals of an individual in recent cinematic history, this is a football film like no other. Using 17 cameras, the film tracks the legendary French midfielder Zinédine Zidane throughout a 2005 Spanish league match at Madrid’s imposing Bernabéu Stadium. Mogwai have earnt their reputation as a force in modern rock music and are known for the intensity of their live shows. This should be a definite for any music or football fans!
In response to rising food prices, climate change and growing urban populations MIF and The Biospheric Foundation are asking the question: how can we continue to put food on our tables? As an MP I think about these kind of questions daily and it's great to see another brilliant project aimed at getting more of the public involved in these debates. With guided walks through the city and along the River Irwell to The Biospheric Project building, and participants getting the opportunity to learn about the historical context of food and the city.
During the course of the festival, many parts of the City Centre will be transformed into entertainment venues. For example, the Albert Hall will be reopened for the festival and will provide a uniquely atmospheric venue for a restaurant, bar and numerous performances. Albert Square will also undergo a transformation into Festival Square which will be filled with venues such as The Glass House, the Festival Cafe and the Pavilion Theatre.
With many of the events free and tickets still available for a wide range of entertainment opportunities, I would encourage anyone who has a spare hour or two over the next couple of weeks to head into the city centre and see what’s going on!