A huge new temporary outdoor venue including theatre, food, drink, shows, music, cabaret, and comedy will be launched by HOME in May to provide an outdoor Summer destination for people looking for a safe and fun night out as lockdown eases.
Built on a space three times the size of Albert Square, and with a Cabinet of Curiosities-themed design, the new venue, named Homeground, opens on Friday, 28 May, and will be located on an 80,000ft2 future development site on First Street, just next to HOME. It will feature a 400-seat socially distanced theatre space called Auto Trader Showground: the specially designed and purpose built, Covid-safe outdoor theatre. At the heart will be two magical, musical productions of classics: Filter Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and a brand-new version of Alice in Wonderland.
The venue will also host work by partners including Frog & Bucket, Contact and Trans Creative, as well as music, cabaret and comedy.
A second stage, The Bruntwood Stage, will feature DJ slots curated by DJ Paulette, and a Manchester Folk Festival takeover, among other free events.
There will also be food and drink from stallholders including Black Market Espresso, Wolf to the Door cocktails and Tibetan Kitchen.
The project will create 450 new employment opportunities for freelance artists and creative practitioners, supporting the freelance economy which has been so badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Thanks to generous support from Savannah Wisdom Foundation, tickets for the two HOME productions will be just £10 for adults and £5 for children. HOME will also be offering free performances for school groups.
Dave Moutrey, HOME’s Director and CEO, said: “As we start to emerge from the strangest year many of us have ever experienced, arts and culture play a vital role in the recovery of the country. 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. People in our city, especially young people, have been deprived of live theatre for the past year – we want this to be a celebration of Manchester’s creativity and resilience.
“I’m delighted to announce Homeground, which will be a safe and enjoyable space for the people of Manchester to have fun, reconnect and celebrate the city’s artistic talent in all its forms.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream will open on Thursday, 3 June and run until Saturday, 26 June. The show is the third successful collaboration between Filter and Sean Holmes, following the success of Three Sisters and Twelfth Night.
Featuring original music from members of The London Snorkeling Team, this remixed and reworked version of Shakespeare’s tale of young lovers and warring fairies is given a unique and irreverent twist.
Tickets will go on sale on Tuesday 20 April, with early booking available for HOME Friends and members.
Then later this summer, HOME presents a brand-new version of Alice in Wonderland – written by Stockroom and directed by Lekan Lawal. It will be presented in association with Stockroom Productions.
An up-to-date take on the family favourite, the show features new and contemporary Manchester songs, it opens on Thursday, 15 July and runs until Saturday, 7 August.
Alongside the main performance programme, there will be a free stage in the food and drink terrace. The Bruntwood Stage will have a different curator from the city every week, including Manchester Folk Festival, Contact, and DJ slots curated by DJ Paulette.
The site has been designed by Cordelia Ashwell, of Decordia Events.
She said: “The idea behind the overall site design grew from a collaboration with HOME’s Curator, Bren O’Callaghan. From the outset, we felt that rather than try to disguise the brownfield nature of the site, we would lean into the detritus that accumulates in pockets of the urban fabric. 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 extra-ordinary.
“Bren and I have been hunting down key iconic artefacts, some of which we think the public will recognise, and others may come as a bit of a surprise.”
More shows and events will be announced over the coming months.
The project has been made possible thanks to support from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund, Arts Council England, Manchester City Council, Ask Real Estate, CBRE, the Garfield Weston Foundation, B&M Retail and Savannah Wisdom, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the Granada Foundation.
For more information, visit www.homemcr.org/homeground