As the Contact Theatre’s Autumn season is set to launch, we take a look at a few of the events taking place.

The season will include theatre, dance, comedy and spoken work as well as an activity-packed open day for families and the return of Black Gold Arts Festival.


Fun Palaces
Saturday 1 October, 11am – 5pm. Free. All ages.
Contact takes part in the annual national celebration of culture for everyone – Fun Palaces!
Whatever your age, there will be a whole host of activities on offer throughout the day, from pop-up performances to workshops. And what’s more, it’s all free – so come and join in!
The Fun Palaces Campaign is a not-for-profit Unincorporated Association, hosted by The Albany Deptford. Supported by the British Science Association and Arts Council England.

Spymonkey: The Complete Deaths
Tuesday 4 and Wednesday 5 October, 7.30pm. £15 / £10 conc. Over 12s. Post-show talk on 4 October.
Directed and adapted by Tim Crouch.
There are 75 onstage deaths in the works of William Shakespeare: from the carnage at the end of Hamlet to snakes in a basket in Antony & Cleopatra. Spymonkey will perform them all – sometimes lingeringly, sometimes messily, sometimes movingly, sometimes musically, always hysterically.
The Complete Deaths will be a solemn, sombre and sublimely funny tribute to the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
BSL performance Wednesday 5 October, 7.30pm
A Spymonkey co-production with Brighton Festival and Royal & Derngate Northampton.

Black Gold Arts Festival
Thursday 6 -Saturday 8 October, various times/prices. Over 15s.
Bringing together establishes and emerging black, Asian, and minority ethnic artists from  dance, theatre, and live and performance art, with new work, critically acclaimed pieces and some stuff just for fun!
Supported using public funding by Arts Council England. Supported by STUN, Commonword, Contact and Divergency.

Manchester Literature Festival 2016
Saturday 8 October, 7pm. £13 / £7 conc.  Over 15s.
Contact and Cultureword present Lemn Sissay
Part of The 8th Black and Asian Writers Conference
Lemn Sissay MBE is the author of several books of poetry alongside articles, records, public art, and plays. His Landmark Poems are installed throughout Manchester and London, in venues such as The Royal Festival Hall and The Olympic Park.
Lemn closes The 8th Black and Asian Writers Conference, as part of this year’s Manchester Literature Festival.
Pre-Show Performance
A series of short monologues around the themes of family and adoption open up the evening entertainment for the Black and Asian Writers Conference.
Post-Show Open Mic
Join the after-party for music and an open mic stage.
Presented by Cultureword and Black Gold Arts Festival.

Contact and Artreach present Belarus Free Theatre: Burning Doors
Monday 10-Wednesday 12 Oct, 7.30pm. £15 / £10 conc. Over 16s (contains full nudity). Post show talks after each performance
Part of Journeys Festival International 2016.
Blending sensuous theatricality and vigorous physicality, Belarus Free Theatre combine forces with Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokina to share stories of persecuted artists, living under dictatorship, who will not be silenced. Drawn from the real-life stories of iconoclastic Russian performance artist Petr Pavlensky, incarcerated Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov and  Maria Alyokhina.
Funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.  Developed at Falmouth University’s Academy of Music and Theatre Arts (AMATA).

Peaches Christ and Jinkx Monsoon: Return to Grey Gardens
Friday 14 and Saturday 15 October, 8pm. £25 / £15 conc. Over 15s.
UK Premiere
A theatrical comedy spoof that pays homage to the acclaimed documentary film Grey Gardens (1975). The beloved cult documentary by the Maysles Brothers captured the eccentric lives of mother and daughter former society doyennes, now fallen on hard times. The live show is set forty years into the future and documents the routine of an ageing drag mother and her bitter drag daughter who continue to perform for an empty house.
Starring Jinkx Monsoon as Lil’ Jinkxy and Peaches Christ as Big Peachy, with Cheddar Gorgeous, Anna Phylactic and the Ultra Violets, with further guest stars to be announced.

Southbank Centre and Contact present
Why? What’s Happening for the Young Festival
Friday 21 October [schools event], various times, £2 per pupil. Saturday 22 October, various times. Free.  Over 12s.
Contact and Southbank Centre join forces to present the third edition of Why? What’s Happening for the Young. Inspired by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the festival is happening in both Manchester and London.
Join us for talks, debates, performances, participatory events and workshops examining the rights of young people today, and meet inspiring young people, policy makers, and social activists.
WHY? Festival was founded by Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of Southbank Centre, London in partnership with Mishcon de Reya.

Young Identity: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
Saturday 22 October, 7.30pm.  £11 / £6 conc.  Over 12s.
Manchester’s next generation of poets, Young Identity, have been forging a reputation as some of the most magical orators the city, and indeed the country, has to offer for the past ten years.
For Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants, the poets collaborate with their predecessors Speakeasy, and their older sibling, Inna Voice, to present a poetical production of epic proportions.

Bedtime Stories
Tuesday 25 October, 2pm and 7pm. Wednesday 26 October, 11am and 2pm. £13 / £7 conc. £5 under 10s.  Ages 3-10.
Written by Vicki Amedume and Yusra Warsama.
Celebrate the magical time of the day when stresses and strains of life melt away and enter a world of imagination and dreams with Bedtime Stories.
Tucked up with your family and friends, take this chance to unwind and be dazzled with circus, theatre, dance and projections from circus theatre pioneers Upswing.
Funded by Arts Council England with additional funding from Appetite Stoke, the Austin and Hope Pilkington Trust, the Leche Trust and Upswing’s benefactors. Supported by the Point, Eastleigh, the Albany and Jacksons Lane.

Shakespeare Schools Festival
Monday 31 October-Friday 4 November, 7pm. Mon 7-Fri 11 November, 7pm. £11 / £6 conc.
Celebrating 400 years of ‘sound and fury’ Shakespeare Schools Festival presents a series of unique performances by children from all over Greater Manchester.
Whether you are a parent, friend or another local school, this is a wonderful way to experience the language, magic and possibilities of Shakespeare.

Home Is … Ile La Wa
Saturday 12 November, 7.30pm. £11 / £6 conc.
Home Is… explores the concept of home and what happens when your idea of home conflicts with the reality. The same morning the Government unleashes ‘Go Home’ buses on the  streets of London, four strangers find themselves detained together following an immigration raid.
Featuring the words of acclaimed poets Tolu Agbelusi, Tshaka Campbell, Russenї Fisher, Jemilia Wisdom and Belinda Zhawi, and a curtain-raiser performance from Young Identity.
Supported by Arts Council England and Apples and Snakes.

Andy Field: Lookout
Friday 4 and Saturday 5 November, various times. £7 / £5 conc.  Over 15s.
Off-site location. Limited capacity.
Created in collaboration with local primary school children, Lookout is a one-to-one encounter between one adult audience member and one child performer taking place somewhere high up overlooking the city.  Together they look out across Manchester and imagine its future.
Commissioned by The Arches, caravan, MAYK, Cambridge Junction, Contact, and Unicorn Theatre.  Supported by Arts Council England.

Candoco Dance Company
Wednesday 16 and Thursday 17 November, 8pm. £13 / £7 conc. Post-show talk on Wed 16 [BSL].
A double bill from the cutting-edge company of disabled and non-disabled dancers that invites audiences to consider what dance can be.
In these two outstanding works, Set and Reset/Reset (Trisha Brown Dance Company/Candoco Dance Company) and Let’s Talk About Dis (by Hetain Patel), Candoco brings together iconic choreography and playful questions and offers audiences an evening as diverse and exciting as the company itself.

Open Clasp Theatre Company: Key Change
Tuesday 22-Thursday 24 November, 7.30pm. £15 / £10 conc. Over 12s. Post-show talk on 23 Nov.
Devised with women in HMP Low Newton to tour to male prisons, critically-acclaimed Key Change carries their voices over the razor wire in a raw and illuminating portrayal of women in prison.
BSL performance Thursday 24 November, 7.30pm
Winner of The Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award 2015.

Contact and Word of Warning present
Greg Wohead: Comeback Special
Tuesday 22-Thursday 24 November, 8pm. £13 / £7 conc. Over 15s. Post-show talk on 22 November.
Jam sessions, patter with a Southern drawl, big dance numbers, and a bit of sweat: this is a re-enactment of Elvis Presley’s 1968 Comeback Special. Sort of.
It’s an experiment in time drag; wearing another time as drag and dragging another time into the present. What happens if the Comeback comes back?
Co-commissioned by Shoreditch Town Hall, Theatre in the Mill and South Street Arts Centre. A Jerwood Charitable Foundation/Bristol Old Vic Ferment Commission. Developed at MAKE, Bios, Greenwich and Lewisham Young People’s Theatre and the New Wolsey Theatre. Initially supported through a 2014 Dance and the Homemade Commission by Chisenhale Dance Space. Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Cake Tin Foundation presents Mother’s Ruin
Friday 25 November, 8.30pm (8pm doors). £12 / £8 conc.  Over 18s.
Mother’s hit alternative queer cabaret returns. Hosted by Timberlina and starring an inimitable mix of beautiful, radical performers from the North West and beyond.

Gary Clarke Company: Coal
Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 December, 8pm. £15 / £10 conc.  Over 12s. Post-show talk on 7 December.
Marking the 30th anniversary of the end of the 1984/85 British Miners’ strike, award-winning choreographer Gary Clarke proudly presents COAL, a powerful and emotional dance theatre show about life at the coal face. It brings together Clarke’s striking physical language performed by seven professional dancers, a cast of local women and a live brass band, in a story about community, solidarity and survival.
Co-commissioned by DanceXchange; Cast; The Place; Dance City;  Dance4 with Nottingham Playhouse; The Civic Barnsley; Yorkshire Dance, with additional funds from The National Lottery through Arts Council England, Individual Giving through kick-starter with support from The Northern School of Contemporary Dance and The National Union of Mineworkers.

Contact and Slung Low: The Siege of Christmas
Thursday 15 December, 1pm. Friday 16-Saturday 17 December, 1pm and 6.30pm. Monday 19-Thursday 22 December, 1pm and 6.30pm.
£13 / £7 conc. £5 under 10s.  Ages 5+.
Devised and performed by Contact Young Company. Directed by Alan Lane (Slung Low)
Starting outside the main doors of Contact, and roaming throughout the unique castle-y building, The Siege of Christmas is a theatrical adventure for young audiences and the taller people that look after them.
It is made by the award-winning Contact Young Company and Slung Low who made the brilliant 59 Minutes to Save Christmas, and the acclaimed Camelot: The Shining City.

Raw (Rhythm and Words)
Monday 26 September, 24 October, 28 November, 8pm. Free. Over 12s.
Hosted by Martin Visceral with DJ Jomo.
Open mic for poets, vocalists, and MCs, featuring the Freestyle Pyramid Competition with quirky prizes

Young Identity: One Mic Stand
Friday 18 November, 7pm £7/£4 conc. Over 12s
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.


Benji Reid: A Thousand Words
Thursday 22 September – Saturday 17 December, open daily (not Sun). Free.
Benji Reid’s vision as Performer and Creative Director has made him an award-winning and senior contributor to the Black Physical Theatre canon over the last 30 years. Reid is without a doubt one of the most compelling cultural makers in contemporary British theatre.
Over the years, Benji has made the journey from Hip Hop theatre to visual theatre and photography. A Thousand Words is the new photographic exhibition from this singular talent.

Contact – image courtesy of Joel Chester Fildes