Yesterday the Lowry, on their 16th birthday, launched Week 53. A festival of performance and art that has been created to feed the appetites of a compulsively curious audience.
With an abundance of innovative and provocative work, over 200 artists are taking part across 11 days to provide 63 performances and exhibitions.
Julie Fawcett, CEO of the Lowry said: “Week 53 is about doing something different, we want our audiences to step out of their comfort zones and to rethink what going to the theatre means. We want artists to work with us to create new work that reimagines the building and blurs the boundaries between art forms.”
As an exciting new project, the Lowry are planning to make the festival an annual event. Week 53 represents a major commissioning project for The Lowry – bringing together contemporary dance, visual arts, music and theatre in interactive installations, exhibitions and performances.
The Lowry have given national and international artists the ability to explore their creativity and create pieces of work that will intrigue the audiences of Manchester.
Julie Fawcett explained: “Every year the festival will be inspired by a theme that will act as a creative stimulus for the program. This year that theme is exploring the extremely current issue of identity and place. Every single hour we are bombarded with stories and events that question the role of identity and place in today’s society.”
The first piece commissioned for the festival is highly sought-after young artist Katie Paterson and her exhibition Syzygy. In her largest solo exhibition to date, she has explored the idea of nature and astronomy and has worked alongside astronomers and musicians to create her pieces. The term Syzygy describes an alignment of celestial bodies, specifically a straight-line configuration of the sun, earth and moon and how that affects the world.
Katie’s work explores space and place, most importantly our place in the solar system. It’s an impressive collection of work that has taken years to create in collaboration with astronomers, writers and musicians. One of her pieces include a piano in the middle of the room playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata as it sounds after she reflected the score through morse code to the moon and back.
A piece that particularly caught my eye is a project she has started titled Future Library in which Katie has planted a forest in Norway and in 100 years, it will become an anthology of books. The forest will supply paper for a special anthology of books to be printed in one hundred years time. Between now and then, one writer every year will contribute a text, with the writings held in trust, unpublished, until 2114.
Clod Ensemble will be performing a piece on the Lowry’s main stage, the Lyric Theatre, called An Anatomie In Four Quarters. Set to an original score, the capacity for the performance is a mere 200 audience members, despite the theatre seating over a thousand. This is because during the performance the audience will move seats, they will begin watching the performance in the upper circle and will slowly make their way down to the front of the theatre.
The performance will feature a cast of dancers and musicians who will perform the visual poem about human beings’ insatiable desire to get closer to things. It will open the eyes of the audience in terms of the physical structure of the human body and how we attempt to define it.
As the Lowry are investing in connecting to the people of Salford and using them as a platform for arts, Rimini Protokoll have created a performance called 100% Salford that will involve a variety of people of different genders, ages, races and backgrounds. There will be 100 people on stage from Salford, from all walks of life, and they will explore cultural trends and opinions. Throughout the performance they will be asked different questions live on stage and will answer by voting with their feet, moving around to different sections of the stage that represent different answers. Giving the audience a real insight into the minds of people from Salford.
Another highlight of the festival, commissioned by the Lowry, is 30 Days Of The Smiths devised by Oberman Knocks and poet Jackie Kay. They have created a new art soundscape for the festival which is a combination of music and lyrics by the Smiths and dominant voices from 30 people in Salford who all have one thing in common, the last name Smith. Overman and Jackie traveled around Salford visiting people’s homes and listening to their stories in order to create a contemporary audio landscape of the lives and landscape of Salford.
The final commissioned piece for the festival is 2Magpies Theatre production of Last Resort, an immersive experience that will take the audience on a journey to Hotel Guantanamo, a juxtaposition and exploration into Guantanamo Bay, as they imagine it’s future and the issues and questions surrounding terrorism. These questions will be dissected whilst the audience are sat on a deck chair, with their feet in the sand and a cocktail in their hand. Tom Barnes, from 2Magpies Theatre said: “We’re delighted to be doing this as part of Week 53 responding to the theme of space.”
Aside from the pieces commissioned by the Lowry, there are an array of performances on during the festival that will take place around the Lowry, including the hidden spaces that the audience will not have seen before.
This is the first year of an annual festival that is set to be compelling, insightful and utterly exciting.
All information for the festival can be found on the website.