I’m a freelance journalist and published poet, based in Manchester.
Manchester's brand new Ł25 million centre for visual arts, theatre and film has announced its opening season.
At an event to introduce the forthcoming programme, the artistic director for theatre, Walter Meierjohann, emphasised the international nature of the line-up. He added: "HOME is a place for people coming together, sharing and discussing, not just somewhere to be entertained but also a centre for debate."
Here is a completely subjective selection of potential highlights:
1) Theatre: The Funfair
Two young lovers end their romance against the backdrop of a big dipper and freakshow, in this adaptation of Kasimir und Karoline by Ödön von Horváth. The adaptation is by Simon Stephens, originally from Stockport, whose play, Blindsided, premiered at Manchester's Royal Exchange last year. His Olivier Award- winning adaptation of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is currently on tour.
Walter Meierjohann, who will direct the world premiere, describes it as magical, poetic and humorous. Originally set in 1929, the year of the world economic crash, the new version transports the play to a local contemporary backdrop.
The Funfair will be complimented by a new group art exhibition called The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, responding to the themes of the play.
2) Visual Art: I Must First Apologise
Online spam and scamming are the inspiration for this new exhibition by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige. The Beirut-based artists use film, sculpture, photography and installation to explore the relationship between scammers and victim. In turn, they explore the cultural and economic context in which scamming takes place.
3) Film: Music & Film 1 and Lonesome.
Manchester musicians will create new soundtracks to accompany silent cinema, archive footage and artist film. Musicians from the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) have collaborated with and will perform alongside Robin Richards, of the band Dutch Uncles, in a new score for Lonesome. Directed by Pál Fejös, the 1928 film tells the story of two lonely characters in New York who find each other and a chance of enduring happiness.
Singer-Songwriter Josephine and "jazz meets electronica" three piece Go Go Penguin will also perform, as part of Music & Film 1. In Celluloid History Songs, Josephine will showcase her own compositions alongside footage from the North West Film Archive.
An army training centre is the setting for this production by Rosie Kay Dance Company. Inspired by input from serving and former soldiers, the production focuses on the impact on the bodies and minds of those caught up in combat. 5 Soldiers will be staged at Rusholme Army Reserve Centre. It continues the series of site-specific productions which HOME began while it waited for its new centre to be completed.
HOME opens on 21st May. It will include a 500-seat theatre, as well as a studio space, five cinema screens, digital productions and broadcast facilities, a café bar and restaurant. It has been purpose-built by Dutch architects Mecanoo. The overall budget is Ł25 million, Ł19 million of which has been committed by Manchester City Council.
Speaking at the launch-event, in a neighbouring office block, Sarah Perks, visual arts director, talked of theatre, film and visual art coming together to interrogate and illuminate our own experiences.
Head of Engagement, Marisa Draper, said that a low-cost ticket scheme would help to break down financial barriers to experiencing culture. The Inspire Programme is funded by The Oglesby Charitable Trust.
HOME was formed by the merger of Manchester's Library Theatre Company and Cornerhouse arts centre. The Cornerhouse, which was built in the early 1900s, became an arts centre in 1985, replacing a family-run furniture store. Manchester's Central Library was officially opened by King George V in 1934. The Library Theatre Company staged its first performance in the basement theatre in 1952. It had to find new venues to perform at, when the library was closed for a major refurbishment in 2010. Chekhov's The Seagull marked the final production by the company, in 2014, at the Lowry, Salford.