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Coventry City of Culture announces initial programme featuring the RSC, Paines Plough, Handspring and more

The City of Culture events will kick off next summer

Coventry City of Culture

Coventry City of Culture 2021 has unveiled its initial raft of programming ahead of next year's series of events.

Organisers have factored potential social distancing parameters into all initiatives, with flexible arrangements possible in the event that restrictions are still in place.

The City of Culture festival will kick off in May 2021 (pushed back from January due to the pandemic) and run for a full 12 months into 2022.

The official opening event, on 15 May 2021, will be Coventry Moves, a major spectacle featuring city-wide participation, overseen by Nigel Jamieson and Justine Theme alongside young creatives from the city – Hannah Beck, Marius Mates, Sachin Sharma, Sibongile Mkoba, Sebbie Mudhai and Semilore Kaji-Hausa. More information about Coventry Moves is to be revealed.

Opening in June will be a major site-specific production, Tides Within Us, created by digital artists Marshmallow Laser Feast. From July famed new writing company Paines Plough will work with the Belgrade to present plays from four writers (to be revealed) in their pop-up space the Roundabout. These will be available in locations across Coventry.

A major new outdoor theatre show, CastAway, will be mounted by an all-female cast on a stage of floating plastic. The piece is inspired by the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a floating island of plastic that has now grown to six-and-a-half times the size of the UK. After its run in Coventry it will be shown across rivers and waterways in central England.

The RSC will work with the Cuty of Culture on a new project, Faith, exploring the way in which faith is articulated and relied upon during hard times. Featuring a 24-hour invitation to discuss and debate the nature of faith within the city, the company's deputy artistic director Erica Whyman this morning teased an "epic theatrical event to tie it all together".

Faith is led by Whyman, associate director Jen Davis, Coventry-based writer Chris O'Connell, playwright Chinonyerem Odimba with design consultant Tom Piper. It will play in September.

In June, the previously announced production of The Walk, overseen by the likes of Good Chance Theatre and Handspring, will visit Coventry. Coventry is the second most welcoming place for Syrian refugees in UK after the capital.

Naoki Sugawara's company, OiBokkeShi, working with Entelechy Arts, will explore the nature of dementia in a new community-led piece Theatre of Wandering, with contributions from care workers, shop keepers and care home residents.

Six emerging artists from the area – Sophie Ellerby, Sophia Grissin, Sam Kurd, David Payne, Annabel Brightling, Daniel Anderson and Rory Rawson – will create a digital TV series, SeaView, alongside the Belgrade Theatre in November. The venue will also work with the UK Asian Film Festival to place the spotlight on acclaimed filmmaker Satyajit Ray.

BBC Arts and BBC Audio will work to create one of the "biggest poetry and performance festival ever seen in the region", while the Turner Prize will come to the Midlands for the first time.

Chenine Bhathena, creative director of Coventry City of Culture said: "We are announcing these events today and hope, in these dark times, to give something for people to look forward to - things they can do and enjoy, whatever the future may hold. When Coventry is faced by a challenge, we tackle it head on. The resilience and innovation that the city is known for around the world can be seen in the events we announce today.

"From city-wide stories to intimate experiences and small scale events that will surprise and delight – whatever age you are, whatever brings a smile to your face, whatever makes you feel a little more alive, you will find it in Coventry City of Culture. Today's announcement is only the beginning of what is to come and we look forward to announcing more in January 2021, when will be sharing our full programme, with local artists and organisations central to the celebrations."