The witching hour is upon us, and First Draft – no stranger to putting on the odd spooky performance or two; think the candlelit Halloween readings in Chet’s atmospheric Medieval Baronial Hall – are popping up in the Portico. Inspired by the library’s collection of books on the occult, First Draft have commissioned a number of writers to take the myths and mysteries within as a stepping stone to create new stories, poems, sketches and art (we’ve even seen photographic evidence of the creations being brought into the world).
This special All Hallows’ Day cabaret-style event will see the work presented for the very first time, with an evening peopled by witches and necromancers, demons and magicians, and ghostly apparitions bringing worrisome warnings from beyond the grave. The atmospheric Portico Library – one of Manchester’s most beautiful hidden gems – will be the backdrop to a line-up of performers, introduced by Flim Nite’s Jack Nicholls, including Rishi Dastidar, Kate Feld, Shagufta Iqbal, Trisha Starbrook, Paula Varjack, Warda Yassin and The Delightful Sausage.
Malika’s Poetry Kitchen member Rishi Dastidar’s poetry has been published by the FT, New Scientist, the BBC and The Forward Book of Poetry 2018, and his debut collection Ticker-tape is published by Nine Arches Press. Journalist, lecturer and writer of fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction Kate Feld runs The Real Story, and her work has been published by The Stinging Fly, Neon Magazine, The Lonely Crowd and Unthank Books. An award-winning artist and poet, Shagufta Iqbal’s poetry collection Jam Is For Girls, Girls Get Jam, published by Burning Eye Books, comes recommended by Nikesh Shukla, while writer, short story slam winner and spooky tales aficionado Trisha Starbrook has been a special guest host at First Draft many times over the last few years.
Paula Varjack is an artist working in video and performance, and her latest show, The Cult of K*NZO, a playful critique of consumer culture and high fashion, tours next spring. Unfortunately, poet Warda Yassin (who has performed alongside the likes of Buddy Wakefield, Jean Binta Breeze and Hollie McNish, and delivered workshops for young people with The Writing Squad and Bridlington Poetry Festival) can no longer perform, but taking her place is music maker, singer, alchemist, film and theatre sound designer, Low Cinnabar with some guitar and vocals. Comedians Chris Cantrill and Amy Gledhill combine to become The Delightful Sausage, a surreal sketch double act whose most recent show was described by The Guardian as one of the ‘Best Shows of the Fringe’. First Draft will also be championing two spooky Letter on Nocturnal Magic digital commissions, including Ghost Machines by Joe Cooper, playing alongside the performances.
And if that’s not enough to feed your imagination, while you’re at the Portico, be sure to check out the Spirited exhibition, focusing on the stories of some of the young women and girls who worked for the vote 100 years ago but who, in spite of fighting with great courage and creativity, did not qualify to vote when the Act was finally passed in 1918. Running from 19 October to 2 November, Spirited also features a timetable of free speaker events, including Helen Pankhurst, who will be reading from her book Deeds Not Words on 23 October – you can also catch Helen at the Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival.
Doors open 6.30pm, performances start at 7pm. Full-price tickets are £10, concessions £7. Please note, the Nocturnal Magic event is Sold Out, but the Spirited exhibition continues until 2 November.
Letters on Nocturnal Magic at The Portico Library, Chinatown