Contacting the World 2016 is fast approaching! Here’s a little update on how we’ve been preparing…
The project’s intercultural exchange has already begun: from Hong Kong to Belgium, Denmark to Portugal, and back to Manchester, our companies have been developing and exchanging ideas on a remote basis through a number of interactive tasks. These have presented a great way to engage with the core themes we’ll be exploring during this year’s festival which include artificial intelligence, translation and identity – from different cultural perspectives. Over a week’s residency in Manchester, the twinned companies will build on these ideas, culminating with a performance of three devised works on 16 July at Contacting the World: Imitation Games.
So far, they have compiled time capsules for their respective countries, exchanged an experimental ‘Passport Project’, and taken each other on virtual tours to unearth the soul of their city. By exchanging songs, videos, and poetry, the companies have been evolving their creative responses to the theme - and also learning a little more about each other’s working practices and experiences of culture.
Back in March, some of our artists had the opportunity to meet in real life! We brought together representatives from our Contacting the World companies for a planning meeting, where we got to know each other over two days of food, workshops, and exploring Manchester. This was a great chance for our artists to exchange stories about their work to date, and for us to introduce them to the atmosphere and facilities at Contact in advance of the festival. In a typical move from the Mancunian weather, we were also subject to some pretty heavy snow - a welcome surprise for some of our visitors! To familiarise our participants with the city and delve a little further into some of these themes, we wandered down to the Manchester Art Gallery to look at ‘The Imitation Game’ exhibition, where we were given a curator tour. This provided some brilliant stimuli for the companies, further demonstrating the breadth, value and contemporary relevance of these concepts.
Aside from learning a little bit more about the ethos and practice of each company, we also introduced the three Contacting the World directors – Matt Fenton, Stacy Makishi, and Adam McGuigan - who’ll be working with our international twins for the duration of their residency in July.
We are delighted to welcome back the inimitable Stacy Makishi - ‘a renowned workshop wizard, performance provocateur and mischief mentor’ who directed the outstanding Contact Young Company show Under the Covers last year; as well as Adam McGuigan -an established director, actor and film-maker, and the co-founder of Barefeet Theatre in Zambia who has been a valued member of the CTW team in previous years. And excitingly enough, Matt’s work on the festival will represent his directorial debut at Contact, since joining as Artistic Director/Chief Executive in 2013.
So… as the festival approaches, our companies’ intercultural creative exchange continues as they work towards their exciting culmination in July… we hope to see you there!