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Contact’s 50th birthday year kicks off to a spirited start announcing an autumn season of empowering and fearless new shows

Resonating the energy and vibe of now, Contact’s autumn season promises a rollercoaster of relevant and remarkable new work from the country’s hottest artists and performers. From neurodivergent cabaret to a carbon-neutral dance party and tennis and poetry bonanza, the castle of curiosity is set to delight. 

Contact’s 50th birthday year starts this August celebrating some of its most distinctive work and projects to date. The accompanying autumn season showcases brand new Contact supported works, new work from Contact’s Young Company and the best of the UK’s new touring shows and emerging artists. 

“It is Contact’s 50th year from August. During this time, we have established a unique place for young people to forge creative careers. The autumn season will celebrate dynamic new work from some incredible talent and highlight some of our precious alumni. Our artists are making work about the most prescient issues – from climate justice to motherhood, football to queer stories. We hope our audiences will enjoy digesting these topics via visually stunning and vibrant performances. Whether you fancy spoken word, theatre, comedy or dance or ingenious new multi-media works, we will have something for you. You have my word!” – Keisha Thompson Contact’s new Artistic Director and CEO 

A young South Asian girl is sat facing away from the camera against a pink background. There are several colourful clips in her hair, one spells out trauma. To her left is an old TV with a cake and candles on top, with videotapes strewn on the floor. The candles on the cake spell out trauma.

​​Keep reading to learn all about the Autumn season!

Sofie Hagen’s Fat Jokes | Fri 23 – Sat 24 September

Sofie Hagen returns to her craft of devastatingly brilliant joke writing and storytelling and has created this collection of fat jokes and unforgettable moments that you can laugh at without feeling like sh*t.

Book here

Hear Me Now | Monday 26 September 22

We are inviting you to celebrate the book launch of 101 brand new monologues written for actors who are either from the Global Majority and/or deaf and disabled. Contact and HOME are proud to have been a part of Hear Me Now Audition Monologues Volume Two book. The launch will feature performances and panel discussions from Manchester’s artistic community. Hear Me Now (Volume 2) is published by Bloomsbury, co-created by writer-producer Titilola Dawudu and Tamasha, collaborating with 100 actors, 50 writers, 5 dramaturgs, 10 facilitators, signers, access workers, audio engineers, directors across 10 theatres and regions of England.

Book here. 

Spoken Movement – Family Honour (toured by Sadlers Wells) | Thu 29 Sept 22

A young girl, bound by the demands of tradition, religion and family, confronts her past rebellion against these pressures. 

Through a brilliantly unique meeting of hip hop and theatre, Family Honour asks how far one would go to uphold family expectations and whether it’s truly honourable to do so or just another traditional taboo? 

From internationally award-winning choreographer Kwame Asafo-Adjei, witness this raw exploration of family and personal trauma, putting you in the front seat for tense, honest confrontations that go generations deep. 

Originally a duet, the work won France’s prestigious Danse Élargie in 2018. Now it is expanded as a full-length ensemble production. 

“Family Honour is sophisticated in its use of hip-hop language for theatrical ends, in a tensely contained dispute that tells of the repression of young women by older religious men” The Guardian 

Book here.

Emergency | Sat 1 October 22

Manchester’s twenty-second micro-marathon of the bizarre, the bold + the beautiful takes over Contact on Saturday 1 October — with a daytime of performance installations, one-to-ones, and interventions, followed by an evening full of short shows.

Learn more here. 

Outbox – Groove | Weds 5 – Fri 7 October 22

GROOVE  is a brand new performance from critically acclaimed OUTBOX. Featuring a fierce and mighty cast of intergenerational dancers and actors, we explore the dance floor as a place of protest, identity, belonging and desire. Join us as we shimmy and shapeshift through time and across decades to make your mind and body MOVE. Be immersed in lights, lasers and video, and era-defining and defying original beats. Prepare to leave it all on the dance floor… get ready to GROOVE. 

Book here.

Roma Havers – LOB | Wed 5 – Saturday 8 October 22

It’s the year 2000 and my grandmother, dreaming of Wimbledon glory, is devastated by my lack of prowess. Having been obsessed with this memory for twenty years, now, with her trusty swingball set, Poet and theatremaker Roma Havers once again attempts to serve a LOB. Egged on by locker room banter, a Victorian ghost for a doubles partner and a masked ball that just won’t go to plan, at its heart this dance and poetry show prioritises the rearticulation of failure and shame and what it could mean to move as queer bodies in sporting spaces, even if you’ll never reach Centre Court. With original music from Donna Loman, Movement Direction from Christopher Brown and Swingball from Nico’s balcony.

Book here.

Black Angel 25 | Saturday 8 October 22

The pioneering club night returns for a special event on Saturday 8th October to celebrate 25 years of Black Angel, the birth of the Black and Asian LGBT+ club scene in Manchester and the first women-centred safe place for Black and Asian women to come together and be themselves. With DJs Claud Cunningham, Mix-Stress and Stacey Bee (Swagga)

Book here.

Jenny Gaskell – With My Ear To The Wall | W/C 10 October 22

With My Ear to the Wall is an intimate and tactile audio installation. Inciting empathy, a sense of closeness and an almost voyeuristic curiosity, With My Ear to the Wall is an opportunity to eavesdrop into the tender insights of the lives of strangers. Each tumbler is designed to be placed against the wall and shares the voice of a person with experience of health based isolation / extended periods of time spent at home. Jenny Gaskell is a Manchester based artist who has a history of anxiety and depression. One of her best friends has a long term health condition which means she’s not always able to leave the house for stretches of time. Her friend said to her once: ‘I wonder if people forget I exist, because they just don’t see me around’. With My Ear to the Wall creates ways to help us remain connected to people who are not always in the room and to listen to perspectives which are at risk of not being heard.

Learn more here. 

Amy Vreeke – Glowing | 18 – 22 October 22

Candid, ferocious, funny and loud, Glowing debunks the myths that pregnant women are having the time of their lives and new mothers spend their days softly singing nursery rhymes to sleeping babies. One thing Amy has always been sure of is that she wants to be a mother. She envisioned herself pregnant, in dungarees, doing yoga drinking a kale smoothy. The reality of constant nausea, exhaustion and midnight sausage rolls left her questioning, when does the glowing start? 9 months of pre-natal anxiety and several stiches later, Amy fell in love with the tiny human she’d created. But with no sleep, a national lockdown and crying baby that refused to feed Amy found herself disillusioned with the version of motherhood we see so often in the media. So, take an evening off from cleaning poo off your carpet or washing sick out of your hair to come have a laugh, a nice drink and watch Amy and other mums from across Manchester work out why all mothers haven’t been crowned queen of the world in this unfiltered portrayal of motherhood.

Book here. 

Contact Young Company – Halo | 24-26 October 22

Keisha Thompson teams up with CYC to direct their Autumn show. Inspired by the Halo Code,  a campaign fighting for the protection and celebration of Black hair and hairstyles, Halo explores young people’s experiences in schools and workplaces in regards to their hair.

Book here.

Pigfoot – Hot In Here | Tue 1 – Thu 3 Nov 22

HOT IN HERE is a carbon-neutral dance-party celebrating action for climate justice. Developed from interviews between young people in the UK and climate activists around the world, HOT IN HERE explores the UK’s place in the global climate crisis and shares the action young people are taking around the world to prevent it. The show is powered by the first energy-harvesting dancefloor in live theatre, converting the energy of the performers’ bodies into electricity. Made by Pigfoot, a multi award-winning theatre company telling stories about the climate crisis, with the least carbon impact possible. 

Book here.

Lava Elastic | Fri 11 Nov 22

LAVA ELASTIC Neurodiverse comedy night…+ poetry & stuff In recent years, a theory has emerged that the human race is ‘Neurodiverse’ – a mix of different neurological types. Those that aren’t ‘Neurotypical’ (the usual) are known as ‘Neurodivergent’ with differences that include Autism/Aspergers, ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Tourette’s Syndrome, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia and other types of brain that aren’t ‘Neurotypical’. LAVA ELASTIC is a night for brilliant performers who are considered from the ‘problematic’ to the ‘niche’, alongside other fantastic acts who are as varied in their styles…as their brains…which of course everyone is – but we choose to celebrate that at LAVA ELASTIC! 

Book here.

20 Stories High – Touchy Live | 10-12 November 22

A double bill of Live Music, Hip Hop, film, and poetry, from Liverpool’s finest. What happens when some of Liverpool’s finest rappers, singers, poets, and Ninjas get creative in one space? The answer: something truly unique. After a two-year gap, 20 Stories High are back on the road with a double bill bursting at the seams with originality, scouse humour and grit. First up is TOUCHY – a collection of award-winning short films on the theme of touch. Unique stories old through a mash up of eye-popping animation, heartfelt music video, and gripping drama all shown on the big screen. Next up is ANTHOLOGY – a raw piece of gig theatre that promises to raise the roof!

Book here.

Demi Nandhra – The Trauma Show | 15 – 16 Nov 22

“Have you ever trauma dumped? TikTok tells me this show might do that but don’t worry we can just trauma bond” Demi is obsessed with trauma, childhood trauma, naming it, analysing it,healing from it, and getting-on-stage-to-perform-it. That last one might be a trauma response but you can decide that. Having entered her 30’s Demi expected to be more whole, more healed, to not still feel like a child. Because trauma lives in the body and the body keeps the score, and we all know what that means. Disclaimer: Demi doesn’t know what that means. The Trauma Show explores the impacts of adverse childhoods, making a show and dance out of it, mourning our little selves, ‘therapise’ culture and how TikTok can heal us all.

Book here.

Half Moon Theatre – Daytime Deewane | Tue 22 – Thu 24 Nov 22

It’s 1997 and London is about to have its last daytime rave. The end of an era is approaching. British South Asians flock for their last taste of rebellion. Among them are cousins Farhan and Sadiq. Both very different. Both escaping something. Both trying to decide what it means to be British and Pakistani, a Muslim and a man – and they’ve got until 6pm to figure it out. Inspired by the daytime raves of 1990s British Asian culture, Daytime Deewane explores the beauty and struggle of living with a multi-cultural identity as a teenager. Featuring a DJ mix merging soundscapes, dance music and spoken word, this immersive new show is an exhilarating gig theatre adventure. Daytime Deewane, by Azan Ahmed, is the latest production from Half Moon, the UK’s leading small-scale young people’s venue and touring company, winner of the 2019 and 2018 Offies Award (Off West End Theatre) for Best Production for Young People Age 13+ (Crowded and What Once Was Ours).

Book here.

Forward Prizes Award Ceremony | Monday 28 Nov 22

Join jury chair, celebrated novelist, columnist and activist Fatima Bhutto as she hosts the presentation of the UK and Ireland’s most coveted poetry prizes. The Forward Prizes are an unmissable fixture on the literary calendar – a celebration for all who want to discover and enjoy the best contemporary poetry. All of the shortlisted poets are invited to read on the night: Best Collection – Kaveh Akbar (Pilgrim Bell), Anthony Joseph (Sonnets for Albert), Shane McCrae (Cain Named the Animal), Kim Moore (All the Men I Never Married), Helen Mort (The Illustrated Woman) Best First Collection – Mohammed El-Kurd (Rifqa), Holly Hopkins (The English Summer), Padraig Regan (Some Integrity), Warsan Shire (Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head), Stephanie Sy-Quia (Amnion) Best Single Poem – Louisa Campbell, Cecilia Knapp, Nick Laird, Carl Phillips, and Claire Pollard This year’s judges – Fatima Bhutto, Rishi Dastidar, alice hiller, Nadine Aisha Jassat and Stephen Sexton – read more than 215 poetry collections and 192 nominated single poems to find the most exciting poetry published in the British Isles.

Book here.

Split Britches – Last Gasp | Wed 30 Nov and Thu 1 Dec 22

“How to survive a loss. First you recalibrate…” Landing somewhere between the realms of the live and the virtual, presence and absence, between staying home and venturing out, Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver combine spoken word, movement and Zoom technology to respond to a world turned upside down. In early 2020 these two icons of lesbian-feminist theatre set out to present Last Gasp, a live performance questioning demise: the demise of ageing bodies, civil conversation, and a sustainable planet. The pandemic arrived and knocked the breath out of all of us, as did a period of civil unrest that marched under the banner of ‘I can’t breathe.’ The ironies were not lost as the duo locked down, stayed in and continued their investigations resulting in a digital performance, Last Gasp WFH. Now almost two years later, Last Gasp gathers us in the same room but not as the same people. Returning to the physical stage, Shaw and Weaver reevaluate what it means to be together in a theatre and what it means to perform in the aftermath of a foundation shattering crisis. With episodes entitled ‘The Trump in Me’, ‘How to Set a Table in an Emergency’, and ‘How to Survive a Loss’, the legendary performance duo brings us together to recalibrate – not only facing demise but considering strategies for moving on.

Book here.

EIGHT-FREESTYLE PRESENTS ROBIN HOOD: THE 80S PANTO | Sat 10 Dec – Sat 31 Dec 22

eight-freestyle‘s Robin Hood is a story of courage, friendship and bad puns. There’ll be plenty of laughs along the way as Robin joins forces with Maid Marion to thwart the Sheriff of Nottingham’s evil plans to kidnap the young Babes. This is a show that has it all: adventure, action, laughs, music, magic and men with mullets!

Book here.