Maxine Peake as Nico for The Nico Project at MIF19
Maxine Peake as Nico for The Nico Project at MIF19

The full line up of artists, actors, directors and performers has been revealed for the 2019 Manchester International Festival.

Highlights were unveiled at a special MIF programme launch event in Manchester on Thursday and will include legendary American movie director David Lynch completely taking over HOME arts centre for his biggest ever UK exhibition.

And award-winning actress Maxine Peake will team up with director Sarah Frankcom for The Legend of Nico, exploring the work of the Velvet Underground singer and muse who lived her final years in Manchester.

The biennial festival will run across 18 days in July, with the festival hub once again to be based on Albert Square.

The 2019 festival will kick off with a huge public event hosted by Yoko Ono, Bells for Peace, where thousands will gather together to ring bells and sing out for peace in Cathedral Gardens on 4th July at 6pm.

Yoko Ono
Credit: Matthew Placek

Also working together for the first time, Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah’s Tree is the story of a young man on a journey of healing, told through dance, music and film – the fulfilment of the pair’s long-held ambition to make a piece of work together inspired by South Africa. Directed by Kwei-Armah, with music inspired by Elba’s album Mi Mandela, Tree is an exhilarating show about identity, family and belonging.

Composer Philip Glass and actor-director Phelim McDermott are collaborating on Tao of Glass which is billed their most personal project yet. Inspired by a dream, this world premiere marries meditations on life, death and wisdom with ten brand new pieces of music from Glass, presented in the round by McDermott, with an ensemble of musicians and puppeteers.

In The Nico Project at The Stoller Hall in Manchester, Maxine Peake and Sarah Frankcom alongside an all-female creative team, pay tribute to the legendary musician with a stirring theatrical immersion into Nico’s sound and identity, inspired by her stark, bleak and beautiful 1968 album The Marble Index.

Grime star Skepta’s DYSTOPIA987 steps beyond the live music experience, reimagining the rave culture of the past in an uncertain future with a series of intimate and immersive events held in a secret Manchester location – and tickets have already sold out.

Skepta will perform along with guest appearances from hand-picked performers, DJs, and a wealth of new technology inhabiting a hidden netherworld that is already one of the festival’s hottest tickets.

Legendary film director David Lynch is taking over HOME for the duration of MIF19. In the gallery My Head Is Disconnected is the first major UK exhibition of his large-scale paintings, drawings and sculpture. In the theatre Lynch collaborator Chrysta Bell will host a one-off series of live shows from Lynch-inspired musicians, while the cinema will feature screenings of his classic movies, short films, conversations and more.

Women pushing the boundaries of music are a highlight of the MIF19 programme, including an exclusive show from Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, producer and actress Janelle Monáe on the opening night of MIF19 on July 4th and a unique collaboration between Sufi superstar Abida Parveen and Kathak dancer Nahid Siddiqui.

For Queens of the Electronic Underground Mary Anne Hobbs from BBC Radio 6 Music brings together five of the most exciting electronic acts for an evening of bleeding-edge sounds and breath-taking visuals: Jlin, Holly Herndon, Aïsha Devi ft. MFO, Klara Lewis and Katie Gately.

Manchester’s own history will be centre-stage in The Anvil: An Elegy for Peterloo, which marks the landmark 200th anniversary of the Peterloo massacre in a major two-part commission. ANU, one of Europe’s most daring theatre companies, will take to the streets for a day-long series of immersive performances inspired by the stories of those who died at St Peter’s Field.

The evening sees the world premiere of a major new musical work by composer Emily Howard and poet Michael Symmons Roberts, performed by the BBC Philharmonic and a massed chorus featuring the BBC Singers and three Hallé choirs.

Credit: Alex Eisenberg

Also announced on Thursday was the quirky Animals of Manchester (including HUMANZ) which will imagine what life might be like if animals lived with us not as our pets but as our peers in an interactive Live Art experience created by Hamburg-based artist Sibylle Peters (Theatre of Research) and London’s Live Art Development Agency (LADA), featuring installations, performances and encounters from artists, including Joshua Sofaer and Marcus Coates.

With MIF set to operate and create the artistic programme for The Factory, the landmark cultural space being developed in the city, several MIF19 works will also be presented as pre- Factory events, offering a preview of the range and calibre of work planned.

Tickets for all events are on sale now.

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