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It has been two years in the making, but finally this July Contact, Manchester International Festival and Contact Young Curators will be opening up the tunnels beneath Victoria Station to present the highly-anticipated, A Drunk Pandemic.

Given complete freedom to choose anyone in the world, Contact Young Curators are bringing Japanese art collective, Chim↑Pom, to the UK.

Having been introduced to Manchester and its rich history, Chim↑Pom have created a subterranean brewery beneath Victoria Station. They are inviting audiences to take an intimate and immersive hour-long tour of the brewery, ending with a taster of their beer.

Chim↑Pom in turn invited the Young Curators to devise a programme of accompanying events including an anarchic performance-art pub quiz and a seminar, Sanitising The Working Class, which will explore a slice of hidden Mancunian history.

We’d like to introduce Contact Young Curators, who have all previously been part of various Contact projects and have now come together on this international platform alongside Chim↑Pom.

Adam Ali

Adam is a 20 year old British Libyan actor who previously trained at The Television Workshop Salford, Royal Exchange’s Young Company and Contact Young Company. He is currently in production for Apple TV’s new international show Little America set to release this fall. He has lived in North Manchester since he was seven, frequently moving between Cheetham Hill and Crumpsall.

Tell us your Contact journey…

‘I first came across Contact during my years at high-school when we would participate in Shakespeare School Festival and perform on the Contact stage. Since then I’ve joined Contact Young Company and devised with Hetain Petal for Oh Man. An acclaimed 4 star show with The Guardian that changed my attitude on masculinity and mental health. I also took part in a nationwide interview process meeting Contact’s alumni for our film Making Contact. Most recently our two year Co-Commission with Manchester International Festival – A Drunk Pandemic. I’ve never anticipated where I’d find myself so I’m very proud to have kept involved with Contact.’

What do you want people to take away from A Drunk Pandemic?

‘The history buried under our city is rich with stories we should seek to uncover and through performance storytelling this is possible in an engaging fun way for all ages. There shouldn’t be a separation between academia and the arts. If more crossover between disciplines existed, education would be miles more accessible and easily digested.’

Grainne Flynn

Grainne is a 21 year old actor, director and creative member of SwitchMCR. Her career started as an actor performing in institutions such as The Royal Exchange Theatre and Contact Theatre. She is from Warrington, but currently living in Fallowfield whilst completing her degree at The University of Manchester.

Tell us your Contact journey…

‘At 17 years old, I joined Contact Young Company as an actor being involved in The Siege of Christmas (2016/2017) & There is a Light: BRIGHTLIGHT (2016). Even when I had finished my term with the company I still wanted to be involved in Contact. I saw an application about becoming a Young Commissioner for MIF19. I started the project at 19 years old – which is crazy! During my involvement with the project, I applied to become a Contact Board Member to sit as one of the young representatives. I’ve been a trustee for nearly a year now which is such an incredible opportunity!’

Tell me a highlight of the process of putting A Drunk Pandemic together?

‘I think the unexpected nature of the project. Looking back two years ago, I could never have even imagined we would have ended up working with Japanese artists to create a beer factory. The freedom we have had over this project is incredible; our team had the opportunity to pick any artist who excited us. I’ve never been on a project like that.’

Wez Thistlethwaite

Wez is a 28 year old writer, podcaster and a regular talking head on BBC Radio Manchester’s Dead Good Show and he lives in Old Trafford.

Tell me your Contact journey…

‘How long have you got? Haha! I found Contact after unemployment, then supermarket work. It felt like it was the only place that would have me! I started participating in a group who advised on the Capital Bid. I actually came up with the name Con:Struct,a  group of young people who help to make big decisions on the current building refurbishment, and that name still lives on now! I then went on to do everything from fundraising, to being a tour guide and then settling down on Box office where I worked my way from a casual role to the Box office and Audience Insights Manager that I am now!’

What made you want to join MIF and be a Contact Young Curator?

‘The opportunity to pick any artist in the world? How can you pass that up!?

This project was also really accessible for me as it ran over two years, so I could get really involved whilst the project was flexible, as most projects run on shorter less flexible time periods.’

Ayesha Gwilt

Ayesha is a 29 year old Manchester-based artist who started her professional acting career at 17 at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton. Ayesha was also a member of Contact Young Company where she performed in shows such as Mistletoe and Grime, directed by Cheryl Martin and Danny Fahey.

What would you say to young people who want to be in showbiz/the Arts world?

‘Work hard, keep challenging yourself, keep training and keep questioning. Have an opinion, and try to work with the people who value that – even if theirs isn’t the same.’

‘Do it because you love it (creating, communicating, challenging – whatever your thing is) not solely with the desire or expectation of becoming famous. I really believe that the importance is in the journey – the connections we form, the skills and ideas and parts of us that we discover – not the destination. Be present. Be open to opportunities. Say yes and learn how later.’

‘Be compassionate towards yourself and others and do not fear being assertive. When you are self-employed you look out for you. Learn interview technique – don’t answer questions you don’t want to. Get someone to talk you through a tax return and/ or get an accountant! Stay positive: ‘If you’re going to doubt anything, doubt your limits.’

Elmi Ali

Elmi is a writer, director, facilitator and translator based in the North-West. He writes poetry, short fiction and for the stage.

He premiered his show Water Seeds Not Stones at Contact in 2017 and then again at Contact At STUN last year.

‘Spontaneously injecting song and dance into his performance, and getting the audience to join in, Ali’s one man show makes for a truly entertaining evening.’

You can read the rest of this superb review by The Plays The Thing  here


Fri 5 Jul – Sun 21 Jul 2019

Created by Chim↑Pom. Curated by Contact Young Curators.
Commissioned and produced by Manchester International Festival and Contact.

Find out more.

  • Photo: Lee Baxter