The Royal Exchange Theatre may not be able to do a Christmas show this year, but it has found a way to celebrate Christmas in our city.
Called All I Want For Christmas and launching today, the new digital project brings together a collection of theatre makers who are from or have a connection to Greater Manchester, written by writers including Russell T Davies and Testament.
The stories have been performed by renowned actors including Benedict Wong, Maxine Peake, Don Warrington, Wunmi Mosaku, Shobna Gulati and Cherylee Houston, as well as performers from communities across Greater Manchester.
Audiences will find six short films scattered across the 24 days of an advent calendar, with an extra special performance for Christmas Day.
Set in the tower blocks of Manchester city centre, on Cheetham Hill Road (Cheetham), Gigg Lane (Bury), Glebe Street (Leigh), Henrietta Street (Ashton-Under -Lyne) and Grey Mare Lane (Beswick) are stories of the communities and people who breathe life into these unassuming Greater Manchester streets.
Each day behind an advent calendar door, a short section of a story will be revealed. It’s free to watch from 1st December – just wait for the door to open and the story will begin.
“The streets of Greater Manchester are inhabited by us all – ordinary people living extraordinary lives,” say the theatre’s executive director Steve Freeman and artistic directors Roy Alexander Weise and Bryony Shanahan.
“In this most challenging of years, with a challenging Christmas approaching we wanted to remind people of the resilience of human beings, the power of storytelling, and the strength of community.
“Escapism feels like such a radical, political act right now and this gift is an offer to all to tap into the power of the imagination; found in the cracks of our fear and the world’s uncertainty.
“Choosing just six streets was tough but it felt important to shine a light on the areas and communities we have been working closely with as part of our Local Exchange programme.
“The broad range of artists involved show how rich the region is with talent and imagination; the passion and enthusiasm from all involved proves how Greater Manchester has a special place in the hearts of many.
“Our team at the Royal Exchange have come together, battling through a void of deep pain and adversity to make this happen in record speed. We want to thank them for enduring this year of uncertainty with us.
“To ensure that the hardship of 2020 is not in vain, we must look forward with purpose to 2021, which will be a time of celebration and re-invention.
“We cannot wait to bring our audiences and communities on the journey into a new chapter for the Royal Exchange Theatre.”
The All I Want For Christmas advent calendar can be found on the Royal Exchange website and will be released daily at 10.30am on the theatre’s social media channels.