Arcadia – part of Manchester International Festival 2021

Part of our Literature guide

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Arcadia at MIF21.

Arcadia at The Factory, Castlefield, 10–11 July 2021, free entry - Find Out More

Be the first to experience new work at MIF’s future year-round home with a special installation bringing the natural world into the heart of the city – created especially for the site by director Deborah Warner.

You’ve seen the cranes and the structure gradually climbing upwards from where Granada Studios once stood, and Arcadia gives you the chance to get a sneak peek at The Factory – the brand-new multi-million pound landmark for the arts and culture, designed by internationally renowned architects OMA, which aims to build on Manchester’s history as a dynamic centre for creativity and innovation. The time slots run throughout the night, so why not do some urb ex in the wee small hours?

Drawing on some of the greatest poems written about the natural world, Arcadia‘s original sound composition will weave together the works of poets through the ages.

For one weekend only, this Pre-Factory Event will allow you to explore the building’s immense open spaces, still under construction and not due for completion until later next year, as acclaimed opera and theatre director Deborah Warner CBE reimagines it as a place for peaceful contemplation, thought and reflection. Arcadia is somewhere to pause – for a moment, perhaps for longer.

Created specifically for the site-in-progress of The Factory, Arcadia is a new sound and light installation that invites the audience to connect with nature in the heart of the city, to consider the relationship between the urban and the rural, the town and the country, the natural and the manufactured – and to reflect on our own personal connections with them all. Inspired in part by a 19th-century painting, by the English artist William Wyld, of Manchester (at that point, the world’s greatest producer of cotton textiles), Arcadia will see audiences invited to wander through a field of luminous tents from which a murmuring soundscape of poetry will seep.

Drawing on some of the greatest poems written about the natural world, Arcadia‘s original sound composition will weave together the works of poets through the ages, from The Poetess Sappho in Ancient Greece to Simon Armitage, the UK’s current Poet Laureate. Think William Blake, John Clare, Seamus Heaney, Jackie Kay, Sabrina Mahfouz, GE Patterson, Alice Oswald, WB Yeats and many more besides. The installation features field recordings by Chris Watson and recorded contributions from leading actors and musicians including Jade Anouka, Alun Armstrong, Simon Russell Beale, Tom Burke, Brian Cox, Ayesha Dharker, Clare Dunne, Ioan Gruffudd, Jane Horrocks, Sara Kestelman, Lioness, Pauline Lynch, Lucian Msamati, Nemzzz, Patrick O’Kane, Jonathan Pryce, RoxXxan, David Thewlis and others.

Please note: as Arcadia is a visual art installation that features an abstract soundscape made up of snatches of poetry, it does not include any narrative spoken text, so there is no captioning or BSL interpretation on this work.

Commissioned by Manchester International Festival and Stanford Live at Stanford University. Produced by Manchester International Festival.

Part of Manchester International Festival 2021.

Arcadia at The Factory, Castlefield

10–11 July 2021
Free entry