I’m a freelance journalist and published poet, based in Manchester.
Cut above the rest
As the new year gets underway HOME is shining the spotlight on some of the best fringe theatre, from 2014, in Manchester and Salford. It marks the end of HOME's site-specific season, before the organisation moves into its newly-built Ł25m multi-arts centre in May.
Re:Play will be staged at a specially built pop-up theatre at the office block Number One First Street. From the second floor, audiences will be able to see across to where finishing touches are being made to the new centre.
Number One First Street was the location for touring productions in 2014. In 2012 it was the site of Manchester Lines by Jackie Kay - a play set in a lost property office.
This year's line-up for Re:play, now in its ninth year, includes:
1) JB Shorts, four short plays written, performed, and directed by some of the city's leading writers, actors, and directors. JB Shorts 12 was presented by Reallife Theatre Company in October, at the Joshua Brooks pub.
2) War Stories is a collaboration by two writers from opposite sides of the world, set in 1916, during the First World War, presented by 24:7 Theatre Arts in association with director and producer Benedict Power.
3) The Dumb Waiter, a new version of the Harold Pinter play presented by Ransack Theatre Company. It was originally staged, during the summer, in the suitably confined and sinister setting of the basement of the Kings Arms, Salford. The pub is owned by Paul Heaton, formerly of the Beautiful South and Housemartins.
4) Spur of the Moment is a drama by Anya Reiss about a 12-year-old girl growing up in a dysfunctional family, presented by ALRA (North). Anya Reiss's translation of Chekhov's The Seagull was used by Manchester's Library Theatre Company for its last production, under its current banner, in February 2014.
8) The Tongue Twister, is a show for all the family about a land where rhyming is severely punished. What will be the fate of Plug, a new arrival who can't stop rhyming? Recommended for anyone aged seven upwards.
9) Re:play Breakthrough Comedian of the Year, features five emerging fringe comedians and is hosted by comedian actor, writer and radio presenter Justin Moorhouse, who also has a play featured in JB Shorts.
10) Two Spirits was last year's Pitch Party winner. It traces the journey of three Sioux warriors to Salford to take part in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in 1887. Writer Chris Hoyle will follow the reading with the screening of a short documentary he made about his trip to South Dakota to research the subject matter. The play, which is a work-in-progress, will be performed as a rehearsed reading.
11) Industry Perspectives - finding your way in theatre. A chance for emerging theatre makers to develop their talents under the guidance of industry professionals.
Meanwhile, HOME has given theatre-lovers advance notice of what to look forward to when the organsiation moves into its new centre.
The Funfair is a world premiere of a new adaptation of Kasimir and Karoline, by Ödön von Horváth. Originally set in 1929, the year of the world economic crash, Simon Stephen's new version transports the play to a local contemporary backdrop.
Simon Stephens is an award-winning playwright from Stockport. His adaptation of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is currently touring the country. His play, Blindsided, was premiered at Manchester's Royal Exchange at the start of 2014.
HOME was formed by the merger of Manchester's Library Theatre Company and Cornerhouse arts centre. The new building will include a 500-seat theatre, as well as a studio space, cinema screens, digital productions and broadcast facilities, a café bar and restaurants.