Theatre in Manchester and the North

Kristy Stott, Theatre Editor

This month we bring our picks of the best theatre happening in Manchester and across the North. You’ll find a selection of online performance alongside some of the live shows we’re most looking forward to.

Although Greater Manchester theatres remain closed at this time, many venues are continuing to adapt to the ongoing pandemic – pulling out all the stops to deliver a theatrical experience for audiences to enjoy at home. And we remain hopeful that theatre will return soon – the pathway to live performance is glimmering on the horizon.

Sound Stage is an exciting audio-digital project that pricked our ears up. Created by the fabulous Manchester-based audio-production company Naked Productions, in collaboration with Pitlochry Festival Theatre and the Royal Lyceum, the project aims to recreate the social experience of a trip to the theatre.

HOME continues to deliver high-quality and innovative works and experiences that audiences can enjoy at home. The Homemakers series has been extended until the summer and PUSH Festival, featuring six brand-new commissions and an experimental video game, will run throughout 2021, allowing work to be presented both digitally and live (we’ve got everything crossed).

We’re thrilled that Queer Contact Festival will run online this spring. Highlights include screenwriting legend Russell T Davies (Queer as Folk, It’s a Sin) in conversation with Nathaniel Hall (First Time). Always a highlight in the theatre calendar – be sure to check out the full Queer Contact 2021 programme.

We’re looking forward to those lighter nights and live performance at some point in the not too distant future. Do check back often for more great performance – we’re updating our guide to theatre in Manchester and the North frequently.

Here are our picks

  • 1. Don’t Touch My Hair with HOME

    Don’t Touch My Hair
    Image courtesy of HOME Manchester.

    Don’t Touch My Hair at HOME Manchester, Manchester, Until 1 August 2021 - Book now

    Fearless social activism meets unapologetic hip hop. A concentrated dose of Hot Brown Honey is just what we all need right now.

  • 2. User Not Found: A Video Podcast with HOME

    User Not Found: A Video Podcast with HOME

    User Not Found: A Video Podcast, online, Until 10 March 2021 - Book now

    Exploring digital legacy and online identity, acclaimed theatre-makers Dante or Die are back with a video podcast version of their hugely successful show.

  • 3. Homemakers

    online events I am falling in love with you and its making me do stupid things
    Bryony Kimmings in I am falling in love with you and its making me do stupid things

    Homemakers, online, Until 31 July 2021 - Book now

    HOME have invited theatre and live art makers to create new works at home, for an audience who are also at home.

  • 4. Hidden Winter

    Hidden Winter
    Image courtesy of SBC Theatre.

    Hidden Winter, online, Until 31 August 2021, free entry - Visit now

    Round the family up and head outside for this wonderful story walk adventure from Stand and Be Counted Theatre. Perfect for livening up a lockdown walk.

  • 5. PUSH Festival 2021 at HOME

    PUSH Festival - HOME
    Image courtesy of HOME Manchester.

    Push Festival 2020 at HOME Manchester, Manchester, 5 March–31 December 2021 - Book now

    Thrilling and challenging, HOME’s annual festival is a glimmering reminder that new performance continues to be developed, despite ‘you-know-what’.

  • 6. C-o-n-t-a-c-t at Salford Quays

    Theatre in Manchester
    Image courtesy of Pamela Raith

    C-O-N-T-A-C-T, Until 11 April 2021, from £22.00 - Book now

    Hailed a “gripping thriller” and “pacy outdoor odyssey” – here’s an inventive outdoor performance we can all look forward to in 2021.

  • 7. Learning to Swim on an Ironing Board with Contact

    Learning to Swim on an Ironing Board with Contact
    Image courtesy of Davy Dellbridge.

    Learning to Swim on an Ironing Board, online, 12 March 2021, from £2.00 - Book now

    Performed via a live stream, this humorous and hopeful show offers an entertaining and revealing account of life with a chronic illness.

  • 8. The Picture of Dorian Gray – online

    The Picture of Dorian Gray - online
    Image courtesy of the Lawrence Batley Theatre.

    The Picture of Dorian Gray, online, 16–31 March 2021, from £12.00 - Book now

    Set in a profile photo-obsessed and filter-fixated world, this contemporary digital reimagining of Oscar Wilde’s classic seems more relevant than ever.

  • 9. Turn On Fest 2021 at Hope Mill Theatre

    Turn On Fest 2021
    Image courtesy of Turn On Fest/ Hope Mill Theatre.

    Turn On Fest at Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester and online, 17–28 March 2021 - Book now

    Following the success of the first-ever Turn On Fest in 2020, an online edition of the festival will return this spring.

  • 10. Sound Stage

    Sound Stage
    Image courtesy of Naked Productions.

    Sound Stage, online, 26 March–1 October 2021, TBC - Book now

    An exciting, new audio-digital venture, Sound Stage has been designed by theatre-makers and leading technologists, to give audiences a unique online theatre experience.

  • 11. Queer Contact Festival 2021

    Queer Contact 2021
    Image courtesy of Drew Forsyth.

    Queer Contact Festival 2021 at Contact Theatre, Manchester and online, 29 April–1 May 2021 - Book now

    Bringing an online celebration of art and creativity in the LGBTQ+ community, we’re thrilled that Queer Contact Festival will return for 2021.

  • 12. Queer Contact 2021: Russell T Davies in conversation with Nathaniel Hall

    Queer Contact 2021: Russell T Davies in conversation with Nathaniel Hall

    Queer Contact 2021: Russell T Davies in conversation with Nathaniel Hall, online, 30 April 2021, from £5.00 - Book now

    In this first event for Queer Contact 2021, screenwriting legend Russell T Davies will join award-winning theatre-maker Nathaniel Hall to discuss depictions of HIV and AIDS on stage and screen.

  • 13. MIF21: The Walk

    Manchester International Festival: The Walk
    Image courtesy of Bevan Ross/ MIF21.

    The Walk - Venue TBC, 4 July 2021, free entry - Find Out More

    An epic and extraordinary travelling artwork will set off from the Turkish – Syrian border for Manchester this April. Adventurous and inventive, this is the first event to be announced for MIF21.

More in Theatre

Everything That Rises Must Dance with HOME
Theatre Until 31 July 2021,

Everything that rises must dance with HOME

Produced by Complicité for Homemakers: Join a virtual gathering of women for an online dance project celebrating female movement throughout history.

Hamilton - Streaming on Disney Plus
Theatre Until 15 October 2021, from £5.99

Hamilton – Streaming on Disney Plus

Politically charged with a hip-hop soundtrack, there is no doubt that this filmed performance is one of the most eagerly anticipated releases of 2020.

Drama Stars with Triple C at Z-arts
Families Until 29 March 2021, FREE

Drama Stars with Triple C

Z-arts are delighted to be hosting Drama stars with Triple C – a series of online creative workshops for children with access requirements/additional needs. Aimed at beginners, children need no previous drama experience for these fun, interactive sessions.

Closed Hands with HOME
Theatre 5 March–31 August 2021,

Closed Hands with HOME

An interactive, experimental and political video game exploring the complex effects of extremism and radicalisation.

The Earth Asleep at HOME, Manchester
Cinema 31 March–1 April 2021,

The Earth Asleep at HOME, Manchester

The Earth Asleep, a new film and original live score from creative duo Clara Casian and Robin Richards, premieres this spring at HOME.

Paper Aeroplane theatre production
Families 3 April 2021 11:30 am, from £7

POSTPONED: Paper Aeroplane

Prepare for flight with two new friends as they take to the skies, leaving the every-day behind in pursuit of faraway lands. They touch down in mysterious new places and discover oceans to swim in, rocks to clamber over and bridges to cross. Paper Aeroplane sensitively explores themes of loss and grief in an age appropriate manner and is truly entertaining showcasing a mix of music, puppetry and physical movement.

Peppa Pig's Best Day Ever at The Lowry
Families 28–29 April 2021, from £18.15

POSTPONED: Peppa Pig’s Best Day Ever

It’s Peppa’s Best Day Ever! Join Peppa Pig and all her friends and family on as they embark on fun-filled day long adventure. With all the familiar faces, and plenty of chuckles, chortles and trademark snorts this show will have your little ones captivated.

Queer Contact 2021: Marke Croasdale - Spilling The Tea
Theatre 29 April 2021 6:00 pm, from £6.00

Queer Contact 2021: Mark Croasdale – Spilling The Tea

An explosive performance about coming out, finding ways to belong and fitting in. A film premiere and Q&A.

Queer Contact 2021: Roma Havers - LOB
Theatre 29 April 2021 8:00 pm, from £6.00

Queer Contact 2021: Roma Havers – LOB

Written and performed by Roma Havers, LOB is a tennis and poetry theatre piece that explores moving through sporting spaces as a queer body.

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