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Manchester Theatre Set To Reopen With Focus On Young People

By October 31, 2021November 9th, 2021Blog

The iconic Contact Theatre on Oxford Road in Manchester is set to reopen after being closed since 2017. The refurbished theatre has three performance spaces, as well as a purpose-built recording and rehearsal studio for young people, the Manchester Evening News (M.E.N) reports.

The £6m revamp has been carried out as far as possible to meet sustainable building standards, with the help of design specialists Sheppard Robson. The board members, 50% of whom are under 30, and also staff and performers, were involved in all stages of the planning and design.

Matt Fenton, Artistic Director and Chief Executive, told the M.E.N: “The things that affect (young people’s) lives, the issues they want to change, become the main issues of the future. Over time, they become mainstream. Contact tries to do that and we try to do that with our artists.”

He added: “The public shows that we present reflect the attitudes of the young people. The young people and artists at Contact get into decision making – our board of trustees is 50 percent under 30. Our chair is 28.”

Fenton encourages communities from all over Greater Manchester to use the facilities at the Contact Theatre, which includes a health and wellbeing space especially designed to hosts gatherings and discussions.

The first performance of the new schedule, Everything All of the Time, featured a young cast exploring a post-pandemic world. It was influenced by the musical comedy Inside by Bo Burnham,a 31-year-old American musician and actor. Burnham is unafraid to tackle ‘hot potato’ issues around identity politics, such as race, gender, and disability in his work.

Burnham himself has been compared to performers such as Tim Minchin, Steve Martin, and Tom Lehrer. Inside was filmed completely alone during the Covid lockdown, and was released to critical acclaim, receiving six Emmy nominations, and winning for Outstanding Music Direction, Outstanding Writing, and Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special.

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