As the Contact’s Spring and Summer Season prepares to launch, we take a look at some of the events coming up over the next few months in a programme filled with theatre, dance, wpoken word, cabaret, music and live art.

The season opens with Avant Garde Dance, who, returning to the UK after a sold-out international tour present the Black Album, a triple bill of effortlessly stylish dance and the programme also sees Contact’s Flying Solo festival returning in May, showcasing the art of the solo performer.

Contact’s Artistic Director and Chief Executive, Matt Fenton said, ‘The new season is one of the most diverse and innovative programmes to be found anywhere in the country, featuring major artists alongside exciting new talent. This season sees the return of many Contact commissioned artists who are flourishing in their careers and performing in Manchester as part of national tours, fresh from international success, cementing Contact’s role in nurturing talent and supporting the next generation of diverse artists. Most exciting of all is that local young people have worked directly on choosing our programme of events, and are integral to its delivery.’

27 January, 8pm. £13 / £7 conc. Over 7s.
Avant Garde Dance: The Black Album
Returning to the UK after a sold-out international tour. Open up the sleeve of The Black Album to find a triple-bill of effortlessly stylish dance as three distinctly different hip-hop choreographies are woven together like a concept album, taking you on a soulful journey. Experience the many shades of black through breakdance, improvisation and complex choreography, alongside a score of free jazz, electronica, classical, and more.

27 – 29 January, 7:30pm. £11 / £6 conc; 28 January, 1:30pm. Over 14s. Post-show talk on Thu 28.
Dervish Presents The Crows Plucked Your Sinews
Woolwich today, Somalia under British rule. Two women and two worlds collide. The Crows Plucked Your Sinews is a one-woman show starring multi-talented performer Yusra Warsama, with live music. Based on real events and featuring the epic lyrical tradition of Somalia, this is a unique exploration of the violence of empire and the poetry of resistance.

28 January, 5:30pm. Free. Over 13s.
What Difference Does Difference Make?
40 years on from the publication of Naseem Khan’s The Arts Britain Ignores, we invite artists from Black, Asian, and minority backgrounds to share perceptions on the politics of race, exclusion, integration, art and culture. What Difference Does Difference Make? asks how you think cultural policy and practice has responded to the changing ethnic diversity of Britain over the past generation.

4 – 14 February, various times/venues/prices, plus free events and exhibitions.
Queer Contact Festival 2016
The eighth annual Queer Contact Festival is bigger than ever, celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender arts and culture in Greater Manchester as part of LGBT History Month. Expect theatre, music, dance, cabaret, comedy, spoken word, and visual art at Contact and beyond, with new collaborations with HOME, the Royal Exchange Theatre, Band on the Wall, RNCM, Word of Warning and more. Full listings via

23 – 24 February, 7:30pm. £13 / £7 conc. Over 13s. Post-show talk on 23 February.
20 Stories High and Theatre-Rites
The Broke ‘N’ Beat Collective
Spend an evening with the Collective; a raw, gritty, funny and moving gig that explores the hardships faced by young people in the UK today. Gripping tales, transfixing poetry and hip-hop puppetry like you’ve never seen before. Beat-boxer Hobbit, b-boy Ryan Logistic Harston, singer/poet Elektric, and puppeteer Mohsen Nouri form The Broke ‘N’ Beat Collective.

1 – 3 March, 8pm. £13 / £7 conc. Over 12s. Post-show talk 1 and 2 March.
Reckless Sleepers: Negative Space
To begin, Reckless Sleepers built a room-sized wooden frame and lined it with plasterboard. For several weeks they started smashing it up, smashing it down, then piecing the fragments of their destruction back together. The result is this show, Negative Space. From a blank architectural canvas, something fantastical emerges.

3 March, 7:30pm. £7 / £4 conc. Over 14s.
Ben Mellor hosts a night of spoken word, live music, comedy, cabaret and performance from the very best local, national and international acts.

9 – 10 March, 8pm. £15 / £10 conc. Over 14s. Post-show talk Wed 9 March.
Contact and SICK! Festival present
Bryony Kimmings and Tim Grayburn:
Fake it ‘til you Make It
The international hit show about clinical depression and men. Fake it ‘til you Make it is Bryony Kimmings’ new work about clinical depression and men, made in collaboration with her partner Tim. A wickedly warming, brutally honest and heart-breaking show about the wonders and pitfalls of the human brain, being in love and what it takes to be a ‘real man’.

12 March, 8pm. £13 / £7 conc. Over 18s only.
Contact, Sick! Festival and Word of Warning present
Kim Noble:
You’re Not Alone
You’re Not Alone is a provocative, moving and darkly comic take on one man’s attempts at connection, friendship and employment at B&Q. Renowned performance and video artist Kim Noble takes his audience on a journey through tower blocks, supermarkets and Facebook, seeking an escape from the loneliness of modern society.

9 – 12 March, various times/prices. Over 14s.
Contact and SICK! Festival present
SICK! Lab is a focused 4-day programme of events and discussions, an open research lab exploring what makes us who we are. How much are we still defined by all those traditional categories: religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexuality… Do these aspects of our culture still define us? Are we finding new categories or are definitions becoming so fluid that they are meaningless?

SICK! Lab events:

10 March, 10am – 5pm
On The Couch
Bringing together unlikely couplings of leading voices from the media, arts and academia, with the audience to explore the themes of the lab. Speakers to be announced.

10 March, 9:30pm – 11pm
Bar Flies Philosophy: The Trigger’s Broom Paradox
Drawing on the wisdom of Only Fools and Horses, this late night event gets to the core of our very essence.

10 – 11 March, 1pm – 9pm
SICK! Lounge
An open, informal space in which to continue discussions, take on refreshments and engage with Nuffield Council on Bioethics, Disability Arts Online and our International Arts / Medical Humanities research group.

11 March, 10am – 5pm
Open Space: The Future of Identity
Often described as un-conferences, Open Space events put the agenda in the hands of the audience. Come along and find others with similar questions, but possibly different answers.

11 March, 7pm – 9pm
Lab Test
An evening of work-in-progress, where artists share new projects in development, giving audiences and artists the chance to discuss the personal, social and ethical issues that they explore.

15 – 18 March, various times/prices. Over 13s.
The University of Manchester presents
Palaver Festival 2016
Celebrating language and performance Palaver Festival features theatre and music from across the world.

19 March, 8pm (7:30pm doors). £11 / £6 conc. Over 13s.
The Black Sound Series
Curated by BPM and Level Up
A night of big beats and rhythms celebrating Black music and culture and its influence on the UK. Expect some very special guests, alongside young people from our Level Up music project showcasing new music they have produced at Contact. Followed by an after-party with special headline DJs and the BPM residents. Supported by Youth Music.

22 March, 8pm. £14 / £8 conc. (Summer.), 23 March, 7pm. £14 / £8 conc. (Autumn.)
24 March, 8pm. £8 / £5 conc. (Winter.), 25 March. 8pm. £14 / £8 conc. (Spring.)
26 March; 2 – 3 April, 2pm. £25 / £15 conc. (All four shows). Over 14s.
A Quarantine, HOME, Contact co-production.
Quarantine: Summer. Autumn. Winter. Spring.
World Premiere. An extraordinary quartet of work about our relationship with time, Quarantine’s ambitious project is a piece of mass portraiture, spanning the human lifecycle and made with ‘real people’ in place of actors. In Summer. Autumn. Winter. Spring. each work stands alone, distinct in form, or can be seen as an epic, day-long marathon event. Please note: This performance takes place at Old Granada Studios, Quay Street, Manchester.

22 – 23 April, 7:30pm. £9 / £5 conc. Two nights £11 / £6 conc. Over 14s.
Word of Warning and Contact present
Turn 2016
Celebrating five years of this whirlwind of dance at Contact, this two-day spin around new northern dance sees energy burst from every nook and cranny. Fluidly lyrical, effervescently acrobatic or eccentrically innovative, let Turn transport you into a frenzy of dance.

5 – 14 May, various times/prices.
Flying Solo Festival 2016
Contact’s annual celebration of the art of the solo performer returns for its sixth year. The festival features new Flying Solo commissioned performances from Jenna Watt and Ria Hartley plus performances from Ben Mellor, Cheryl Martin, Contact Young Company, Kate O’Donnell, Louise Wallwein, Matt Miller and Stuart Bowden.
For full details of Flying Solo visit

26 May, 8pm. £15 / £10 conc. Over 14s.
Le Gateau Chocolat:
Walking the tightrope between his public and private personas, Le Gateau Chocolat explores our relationships with our icons. Expect an outrageously eclectic mix of music from pop to opera, Madonna to Kate Bush, Elvis to Whitney and Meatloaf to Pagliacci, as Le Gateau explores his own objects of worship through the songs and music of his personal icons.

3 – 4 Jun, 7:30pm. £6 / £3 conc. Over 14s.
Word of Warning and Contact present
Works Ahead
Our annual sampler of what’s next in contemporary performance and live art: brand new commissions from up and coming talent — so new, they’ve not yet been made… 2015 saw two young men confront the perils of manliness, from political activism to immortality. Check online for what 2016 will bring.

11 June, 7:30pm. £13 / £7 conc. Over 14s. Post-show telepresence jam with Young Identity.
Unfinished Business and Baba Israel:
The Spinning Wheel
Steve Ben Israel was a New York jazz musician, poet, stand-up comic, political activist and core member of the iconic ensemble ‘The Living Theatre’. He passed away in 2012, leaving behind a legacy of 1960s counterculture, and a son — Baba Israel. Celebrating artistic expression, political activism and intergenerational collaboration it remixes past and present in a fusion of storytelling, projection mapping, hip-hop, jazz and spoken word.

18 June, various times/prices. Over 14s.
Re:Con 2016
We all have a complex relationship with food — whether we have too much, not enough, or are happily satisfied, food is personal. Contact’s young programming and producing team, Re:Con, explore the social, political and psychological power of food through art, community engagement and the act of sharing a meal.

11 – 16 July, various times/prices.
Contacting The World 2016
Contacting the World is Contact’s international exchange project for young theatre makers. The project brings together young creatives from across geographical, cultural and social divides and unites them through the common aim of devising new performance work together with directors including Cathy Naden (Forced Entertainment) and Contact Artistic Director Matt Fenton.


4 February – 16 April, open daily (not Sun). Free.
Khalil West and Ajamu:
I Am For You Can Enjoy
An intimate exploration of the diverse backgrounds, perspectives and lived experiences of queer Black male sex workers and their clients.

4 February – 16 April, open daily (not Sun). Free.
Lee Baxter / George House Trust:
George Turns 30
Photographs and video works that tell the story of 30 years of the HIV charity George House Trust. Meet some of the people and objects behind the history of HIV activism in the North West.

4 February – 16 April, open daily (not Sun). Free.
The Wretched Ginger Boy:
Glenn Jones presents a selection of portraits and posters inspired by the creative looks and imaginative performances of Manchester’s drag queens.

6 February – 10 April, open daily. Free.
Al and Al:
Incidents of Travel in the Multiverse
Presented by HOME and Contact
British artists and filmmakers AL and AL, alongside some of the world’s ground breaking scientists; Professor Brian Greene, Alan Turing and Dr. Bart Hoogenboom, investigate a new era of scientific exploration, both real and imagined. Exhibition at HOME, 2 Tony Wilson Place, Manchester.


27 January, 10pm. Free. All ages.
Contact And Dawn’s Mind presents
Mixed Movement
Contact’s open stage event for dancers. Turn up and just watch, or let the music grab you and join in.

25 January, 29 February, 25 April, 27 June, 8pm. Free. Over 13s.
Contact Presents
Raw (Rhythm And Words)
An open mic for poets, vocalists, and MCs, also featuring the Freestyle Pyramid Competition with quirky prizes. Hosted by Martin Visceral with DJ Jomo.

19 February, 20 May, 7pm. £7/4. Over 13s.
Young Identity:
One Mic Stand
Join Manchester’s finest young spoken word performers for a boisterous night of poetry, music and visual art. Featuring an open slam and special guests.

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Contact.  image courtesy of Joel Chester Fildes