Theatre News

Manchester International Festival unveils 2023 programme

The festival is back!

Yayoi Kusama and Dots Obsession – 1996-2011 Installation view at The Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo YAYOI KUSAMA. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Victoria Miro and David Zwirner

Manchester International Festival has unveiled its 2023 plans. 

The festival will feature new work by artists from around the world, taking place in venues and spaces throughout the city and at Factory International’s much-anticipated new home, which opens its doors for the first time for the festival, in advance of its official opening in October. The programme of original new work will include music, dance, theatre and visual arts.

The festival’s headliner is a residency from Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Janelle Monáe, with other performers including Angélique Kidjo, Alison Goldfrapp and the Richard Hawley band – who will be celebrating pop and country legend Patsy Cline. A major exhibition of Yayoi Kusama’s inflatable sculptures will form a centrepiece of the festival, the first work to be presented at Factory International’s flagship new venue. You, Me and the Balloons will take over the vast warehouse space, inviting audiences to take an exhilarating journey through Kusama’s psychedelic creations.

Many of the works will reflect the personal experiences of Manchester’s diverse communities, with Greater Manchester residents at the heart of the festival. The event will also feature a broad online offer including livestreams and behind-the-scenes broadcasts.

Maxine Peake, Sarah Frankcom, and Imogen Knight are set to adapt Kay Dick’s dystopian masterpiece, They – A Sequence of Unease, for a live, after-hours performance at the iconic John Rylands Library. This marks the trio’s latest collaboration for the festival, and, scheduled to run from 5 to 9July, will be the first production of the newly-formed company MAAT, which is dedicated to creating new works in conversation with music, art, activism, and theatre.

Other highlights in the festival, which runs from 29 June to 16 July, include Rimini Protokoll’s All right. Good night., which explores the mystery of a missing plane and how to cope with loss, R.O.S.E. – a night of dance and music featuring Sharon Eyal’s choreography and L-E-V dancers, Kimber Lee’s untitled f*ck m*ss s**gon play makes its world premiere, exploring repeating Asian stereotypes, The Trequartista, which sees contemporary artists and footballers collaborate to produce new works inspired by the legendary position and style in football; and Find Your Eyes – a genre-bending show by Benji Reid that combines photography, choreography, and theatre.