Manchester to open a new outdoor theatre for summer

Chris Wiegand
·2 min read

A new outdoor theatre in Manchester is to present productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland this summer.

Homeground, a temporary open-air space announced on Thursday, has been conceived by the city’s multi-arts venue Home. Its 400-seat socially distanced outdoor theatre and a second stage for free performances will be sited on an 80,000 sq ft future development site on First Street, next to Home. The venue, supported by the government’s culture recovery fund, opens on 28 May and will create 450 new employment opportunities for freelance artists and creative practitioners.

Dave Moutrey, Home’s director and CEO, said that the arts will “play a vital role in the recovery of the country” as England moves out of lockdown. “We all want to bring a sense of hope and joy back to our communities, and to provide more opportunities for an artistic freelance sector decimated by the pandemic. And we want accessibility for all to be at the heart of this project, which is why there is a low-cost or free programme, as well as free performances for schools.”

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which runs from 3-26 June, is a Filter theatre production directed by Sean Holmes. Alice in Wonderland, created by Stockroom (the company formerly known as Out of Joint) and directed by Lekan Lawal, will feature new and contemporary Manchester songs. It runs in the theatre from 15 July to 7 August. Homeground’s second stage will have a different curator from the city every week, including Manchester folk festival and Contact theatre company.

The site has been designed by Cordelia Ashwell of Decordia Events, from a collaboration with Home curator Bren O’Callaghan. Ashwell said that they had decided not to disguise the brownfield nature of the site and had created a design “influenced by scrapyards, the neon graveyard of Las Vegas and remnants of stories that attach themselves to architectural salvage. We settled upon a method of display popularised by the Victorians and in municipal museums – the wunderkammer, or cabinet of curiosities. In this way, seemingly random and otherwise ordinary objects become extraordinary.” The site is set to feature a number of artefacts, “some of which we think the public will recognise, and others may come as a bit of a surprise”.

On Thursday it was also announced that Manchester’s Hope Mill theatre is to stage the first new UK production in 10 years of the musical The Wiz, based on The Wizard of Oz and directed by Matthew Xia. It opens on 24 November.