The Lowry turned 18 this year, and their annual theatre festival Week 53 returns to challenge convention and celebrate the ‘coming of age’.
The festival includes 100 artists and 70 performances that span 12 extraordinary days.
I always praise Manchester for its innovative, fresh and powerfully unique variety of theatre and The Lowry are championing that with their festival. Completely owned and ran by The Lowry, they aim to celebrate everything they’re passionate about. It’s 12 days where they can be experimental with their programming as they invite a range of different productions, from fringe to immersive performances.
Taking over The Lowry from Thu 17 – Mon 28 May, this week, I’ve put together a guide of how to cover the first Week 53 weekend in just four days.
Thursday 17 May
Be taken on a journey underground as five learning disabled artists will tear back the walls to their lives in a powerful expression of what it feels like to have a learning disability in today’s world.
Starting at the Barton Arcade, you’re taken on the underground journey leading back to The Lowry.
8:30pm (60 mins)
Surrounded by a set built entirely from cartoons, Fat Roland’s one-man show is a hilarious and touching spoken word comedy about music, loneliness and not-quite-teenage kicks.
Friday 18 May
1:30pm (55 mins)
Nils is a young boy going through hard times at school as well as in his relationships with others. Nils finds it hard to fit into society. One day, Nils decides to hide in his room and never leave…
Exploring the festival theme ‘Coming of Age’ through the lens of girlhood, womanhood and feminism, using Chantal Joffe’s Personal Feeling is the Main Thing and Everything I See I Swallow as inspiration.
Swan Lake / Loch na hEala
From the imagination of one of Ireland’s foremost dance and theatre makers comes a magical adaptation of one of the most famous of all story ballets, ‘Swan Lake’. It is a 5 star, highly acclaimed production with Irish influences including live music by Dublin based band Slow Moving Clouds.
Every evening at Week 53 there will be live music, live DJs and live bands, as well as a specially designed bar, serving their very own specially brewed Week 53 IPA. On Friday, after Swan Lake Slow Moving Clouds, a Dublin band will be performing. They bring together roots in the Irish and Nordic folk traditions with post-punk drones, baroque strings, and soaring falsetto vocals.
Saturday 19 May
Join Girl Gang for an immersive celebration of the 90’s slacker gal classic celebrating lifelong friendships, repairing youthful wounds and reminding us all that it’s OK to be awesomely average.
Using decor, performers, workshops, speakers, participation, party bags, dressing up, dancing and much much more (!), Girl Gang create fun, meaningful, accessible events encouraging creativity, collaboration, confidence and community.
Check out my review of their immersive screening of Mean Girls here.
Teentalitarianism: Sex Drugs & Criminality
8:30pm (90 mins)
The Lowry’s Teentalitarianism project are a series of ‘social-specific’ performances that invite an adult audience to enter a very different world, where the tables are turned and the teens are in charge. Mammalian Diving Reflex will workw with a group of teenagers to create a series of performances, events and interventions that will take over an area of Salford.
The young operatives of ‘Teentalitarianism’ collide together with the most courageous artists in the world. The teens are invited to ask the artists any questions they want; the artists are invited to refuse any questions they want. A very very very frank discussion about three of the most confusing topics in the universe: sex, drugs and criminality.
8pm (1hr 40)
Inspired by real stories from parents and their daughters, this dance double bill is a highly physical and emotive experience about the relationships between parent and child.
Joseph Toonga’s highly physical and emotive new dance show about fatherhood, Daughter Daughter is inspired by real stories from men and their daughters, Toonga shines a stark and honest light on this profound and transformative experience through his signature abstract hip hop and contemporary style choreography.
Sunday 20 May
3:30pm (50 mins)
A unique playroom performance, Innocence invites little ones (and their adults), to explore William Blake’s imagination and enter a realm of mystery, fun and adventure. Innocence is a magical theatrical journey led by Scottish Dance Theatre’s captivating dancers, with live music, songs, giggles and animal noises by Paul Bradley. A beautiful and engaging dance experience for young ones, their families and friends.
6pm (60 mins)
Dancing robots. Dancing children, Dancing adults. Children and a grown-up couple engage in a zero gravity slow moving dance on a luminous stage, by their side, robots that look like skeletons join the dance.
Teentalitarianism: Nightwalks with Teenagers
In connection with Saturday’s Teentalitarianism event, ‘Nightwalks’ is focused on the power of walking together, bringing together teens and adults to have a unique social experience related to a shared place and time, where everyone can let loose, and silences offer moments for contemplation. Created with local youth, who plan, design and lead public walks through the city at night, exploring the neighbourhood with members of the community.
All tickets for Week 53 are either free, £10 or £20. Also, at least 53 ‘Pay What You Decide’ tickets have been released for all Week 53 shows!
Find all information on the festival and tickets on The Lowry’s website here.