Flying Solo Festival 2015: Only on stage

Polly Checkland Harding
Woman wears glasses and a fake moustache

The solo performers in Contact theatre’s Flying Solo Festival come critically acclaimed, glitter-laden and even slightly unstable… Don’t miss it.

From moustache envy to life-size foam puppets, by way of live blood donation, this year’s Flying Solo Festival looks set to be as diverse and, well, as daring as ever. There are eight different shows on the programme, and though they range in subject and style, they all share one thing in common: each is presented by a lone performer. From Keisha Thompson’s comic exploration of body politics in I Wish I Had A Moustache (favourite bystander comment from the trailer: “where’ve the pubes gone? Someone should bring those back”), to an autobiographical performance from artist activist The Vacuum Cleaner using his own psychiatric records alongside police intelligence files (given four stars in The Scotsman), Flying Solo puts standalone performers in the spotlight.

From moustache envy to life-size foam puppets, by way of live blood donation

What they do with the stage space, though, is up to them: in Blood on the Streets, for example, performance artist Jamie Lewis Handley explores the history of bloodletting as a medical practice using live text, visuals and, yes, his own blood – all presented in the window of a barbershop. Dancer and puppeteer Ester Natzijl also displays a fascination for the physical in Watching, a nightmarish show where a woman battles with a demon-like creature, represented by a life-size foam puppet, that’s trying to overtake her. Equally dark looking is the critically acclaimed collage of spoken word and storytelling, THIS IS HOW WE DIE by Christopher Brett Bailey, lauded by both the Guardian (“an absurd road movie of the soul”) and The Scotsman (“blisteringly brilliant”).

Media plaudits aside, it’s performer Jackie Hagan who boasts the best quote for her show, Some People Have Too Many Legs, this time from Contact’s new artistic director, Matt Fenton, who describes her as a “unique and utterly compelling performer”. Hagan’s performance explores losing a leg without knowing why, falling in love, finding her dad and throwing glitter at one’s fears. Poetic performance Alaska by Cheryl Martin and Louise Orwin’s A Girl and A Gun (which asks what happens when women are used as a plot device) round out what looks set to be a compelling programme. After all, who doesn’t need more borderline weirdness – and glitter – in their lives?

Culture Guides

Image credit: Maryna Makarenko, Sun-Eaters, 2022

Cinema

Classic pre-Code cinema, the Artist Film Weekender and the music of John Williams are amongst our highlights this month.

Exhibitions

Pause in the hustle and bustle of festive prep to take in some inspiration from this month’s top exhibitions.

The Ocean at the End of The Lane at the lowry

Families

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and Manchester is bursting with fun, family activities to keep the kids entertained in the run up to Christmas!

Writer Nicholas Royle. Photo by Zoe McLean

Literature

There are spooky stories, Christmas crime thrillers and plenty of books for stocking fillers as December unfolds and Manchester and the wider North region switches on the live literature lights.

Music

The festive season is here, and whether you want to escape it or embrace it, we’ve got you covered.

Theatre in Manchester and the North

Theatre

Alongside radical sci-fi adaptations and free arts festivals, we take a look at some of the Christmas shows happening in the North.

Classical Music in Manchester and the North

We preview the standout classical music events and venues in Manchester and the north.

Food and Drink

Explore the best restaurants and bars in Manchester and the North for autumn.

Tours and Activities

We’re deep into Autumn now but don’t let that stop you from finding a new tour or activity to get stuck into.

Things to do right now

Powered by culturehosts
Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £20

Pottery at Earth Pig Pottery and Fine Art in Buxton

Visual Arts Until 1 December 2022, from £20

Graffiti at Zap Graffiti

Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £95

Blacksmithing at Forge Four

Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £15

Embroidery with Sara Dennis at Lancaster Castle

Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £59

Making silver stacker rings at The Old Granary

Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £13

Candle making at Cheshire Workshops

Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £60

Glass fusing at Glassmonkey Studio

Textile taxidermy
Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £80

Textile taxidermy with Jaki Bogg at Craven Arts Studios

Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £3.50

Knittaz with Attitude: Yarnbombing at Upside Down Coffee

Cinema Until 8 December 2022, from £7.95

Aftersun at HOME