Preview: Everything Everything present Chaos To Order at Central Library

Polly Checkland Harding
Photo of singer-songwriter Josephine against a turquoise background

We preview Everything Everything’s Central Library residency – six days of new music, writing, theatre and more.

Hands up who’s been to Manchester’s Central Library since it reopened? If you’ve walked its wide, airy corridors, admired the stunning stained glass in the Shakespeare hall, or simply kicked back in the café with a coffee and your laptop, you’ll know that this is no ordinary library. Not only does it boast a high-tech film archive and an unusually noisy music room, Manchester Central Library also pushes the boundaries of what a library can be, through its LibraryLive programme. And now, in the biggest and the very best of this year’s live events, internationally acclaimed band Everything Everything will be taking residence there for six whole days of music, theatre, poetry and prose.

This isn’t the kind of event that’s easy to get into one article: so rarely does such an intense and spectacular culture smash as this happen. Which is why, over the coming weeks, we’ll be hosting an interview with the band, a specially chosen Playlist by them and, eventually, a very special announcement that we can’t do much more than whisper about, at the moment. In the meantime, here’s a first look at a programme that, pretty soon, will be the thing on everybody’s lips. You heard it here first, folks.

For six days, Central Library will become a space where anything might happen

Let’s start with the theme: intrigued by the library’s neatly arranged bookshelves and beautifully catalogued archives, Everything Everything have set out to explore the chaos beneath this apparent order. Take immersive event Folk/tale by Dumblove Encounters: every day of the residency, visitors who step into the library’s Willy Wonker-esque glass lifts will be met with a 60-second snap of collaborative storytelling. “It’s a bit of local history, a bit of magic, and quite strange,” explain Dumblove Encounters – which doesn’t explain anything, really, but it’s somehow better that way. It’s a bit like delving into the pages of a book and having its own little universe open up before you. Except in a lift.

Elsewhere, theatre company Quarantine bring a loud, mass reading into the usually hushed Wolfson Reading Room. Performed by a “choir” of voices, The Reading Room disrupts the polite convention of silence there (Friday 14 Nov, 7pm). Celluloid History Songs from singer-songwriter Josephine… (produced by HOME), on the other hand, finds a curious rhythm in North West Film Archive footage of industrial, working-class people at leisure (Thursday 13 Nov, 7pm in the Performance Space). Order emerges from freedom, and lyrics from Josephine…, adapted from poems written in response to the footage, reflect liberation inescapably shaped by routine. These two events work in different directions, but both ask visitors to become imaginatively involved.

For six days, Central Library will become a space where anything might happen; Everything Everything have indicated that they’ll be keeping lots secret, so that true surprises are possible. We do know, however, that there will be some involvement from the BBC, and that Mancunion author Emma Jane Unsworth is their writer in residence: she’ll be reading from Frank O’Hara’s brilliant Lunch Poems (10-14 Nov, 12.30pm in the café) as well as holding three “Any Questions” sessions, exploring her working practice as a writer (10, 11 and 13 Nov, 5pm in the café). In the Manchester Fiction Showcase, Unsworth will be joined by Chris Killen, Zoe Lambert and Amazon UK’s top selling author for the final quarter of 2013, Kerry Willson (12 Nov, 6.30pm in the Performance Space).

Finally, the musical element of Chaos to Order: inspired by mathematician Alan Turing, synth player Matthew Bourne and creative programmer (and saxophonist) Christophe de Bézenac have developed a visual computer programme that responds to its immediate surroundings to create sound (10 Nov, 7pm in the Performance Space). Less futuristic-sounding, but also in direct response to the theme, is Oldham-born musician Kiran Leonard’s Derevaun Seraun, a cryptically-titled original composition in five movements, specially commissioned for the residency. But perhaps most exciting of all is work planned by Everything Everything themselves.

Throughout their residency, the band will be composing new songs in direct response to the Grade II* listed building, alongside material for their forthcoming album. Chaos to Order, then, is a one-off opportunity to hear an Ivor Novello Award and Mercury Prize nominated band at work. It’s this, and a whole lot more: much like this announcement, Everything Everything’s residency at Central Library really is a case of “you heard it here first…”

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