Is Manchester ready for the Best of BE FESTIVAL? Jody Ratcliffe tells us what we can expect from this very special night…
In July of this year, 23 theatre companies from 11 European countries travelled from far and wide to bring the soul of European theatre to the heart of Birmingham. Their mission: to delight and inspire people no matter what language they speak. This weekend, four of those companies are bringing the Best of BE FESTIVAL to Manchester, magic and madness included.
Driven by the ambition to make the impossible possible, BE FESTIVAL converted a backstage workshop at Birmingham’s Repertory Theatre into a unique creative space filled with handmade artwork, borrowed furniture, and a buzz that, if bottled and sold, would make millions! It would therefore be nonsensical to welcome the Best of BE FESTIVAL to Manchester without making them feel truly at home. With this in mind, myself and the wonderful HOME team have taken on the task of transforming an empty high-rise office space into a whimsical theatrical wonderland. Sourcing furniture and props from far and wide the once vast open space is now littered with vintage treasures, from sofas and garden chairs to Persian rugs and well-worn household items. Placed in contrast against the white, clinical walls of the space, these items all help to recreate a somewhat mish-mashed version of your very own ‘front room’.
Admittedly, the look and feel of the space itself is enough to make me want to slip off my shoes and take a seat before the show but it’s those little added extras that make this evening truly memorable. In between shows, audiences are invited to eat dinner with the actors and directors, friends and strangers – a simple yet truly effective way to bring people together and encourage discussions over a yummy lasagne and a glass of your favourite tipple. Throughout the evening, we hope that audiences spend as much time as possible soaking up the venue whilst grabbing opportunities to exchange thoughts and ideas with people from across Europe. Whether that’s over dinner in the interval or over a game of ping pong in the ‘hub’, we really don’t mind at long as you make yourself at home.
So, as we welcome our neighbours from across the seas, please feel free to drop by for a drink at our pop up bar, put your feet up on our comfy sofas, listen to some live music from local singer-songwriter Sam Tomlins, and enjoy an evening of innovative, daring and ground-breaking theatre from the comfort of your own HOME.
The kettle’s on, what are you waiting for?