Creative Collisions And Collaborations Celebrated In Festival Takeover

This summer the Royal Exchange Theatre celebrates the success of OPEN EXCHANGE, its programme of opportunities for the next generation of theatre-makers, in the Co:LAB FESTIVAL. Taking place across a single weekend in July the festival showcases 11 new pieces of innovative and experimental work at differing stages of development. The work has been created through relationships formed on the Open Exchange programme, where artists from different disciplines are supported to work collaboratively across a varied programme of networking sessions, workshops and micro-commissions. Co:LAB will run from 21 – 23 July across the building.

Associate Artistic Director Matthew Xia said,

It’s incredible to see so much amazing collaboration and experimentation coming out of Open Exchange. I’m extremely proud of it and of all the artists who have used and been inspired by the programme. It’s great to be able to celebrate their commitment and creativity in the Co:LAB festival. This is not a festival of finished and polished work but an opportunity for these local artists to test their embryonic and bold ideas in front of an audience. It’s going to be a really exciting weekend for audiences and theatre-makers from across Greater Manchester.

This year’s festival includes:

SURVIVAL, created by Elmi Ali and Nuala Maguire and performed by Nuala Maguire, is a series of snapshots into the world of Afric, a young agoraphobic gardening enthusiast living in Manchester.

CITIZEN by James & Christine, an interactive, theatrical experiment using game-mechanics to create an immersive event. In an age dominated by increasingly bold, drastic and rash decisions, together we explore: what is choice? And who are we, as choice-makers?

Take Back Theatre present SHOOTING THE MESSENGER – When confusion and misrepresentation infiltrate our media consumption, and our everyday conversations, who can we trust for news? Fusing a number of experiences including live, prerecorded, remote and experimental media, this durational and immersive piece will engage audiences and challenge them to directly interact with, experience and interpret a series of happenings that are in themselves open to manipulation and assumption.

Ransack Theatre present the development of their new play MINUS TOUCH which peers into the reflective void of modern connection and combines live music, film-making and projection to present our lives on stage, on screen and online.

POWER TO THE NORTH is Knaïve Theatre’s vibrant, challenging, empowering and inventive piece of immersive theatre. Inspired by roleplay gaming and choose-your-own-adventure stories. Knaïve Theatre are Royal Exchange supported artists.

Over 1000 local artists have signed up to be part of the Open Exchange programme. This Royal Exchange Theatre scheme offers opportunities ranging from simple networking sessions through to commissions for collaborative work (React) and the chance to become an Exchange Supported Artists.

Nuala Maguire said of being part of the Open Exchange…

The Royal Exchange’s Open Exchange is like a human library for theatre-makers. Making connections: is at the core of its purpose. I have been a part of creating challenging ideas, tasks and workshops and I have seen shows I would not have otherwise seen. Essentially if you want to be connected with some magical, like-minded and supportive individuals the Open Exchange is a great place to immerse yourself.

Knaïve Theatre added…

The Royal Exchange has been a game changer for us in just about every way, it is an incredible opportunity for growth and development. We have been supported to take risks, work with new collaborators and challenge ourselves more than ever before. Thanks to the Open Exchange we have become Supported Artists at the theatre and our work within the network will be a significant part of what we explore over the coming twelve months.

Full listings for Co:LAB can be found in editors notes, all events are pay what you decide and all performances with be BSL interpreted.

About Author /

Matthew has been writing for the past 5 years about music, sports and movies and has now finally got his chance to write about theatre. Having previously worked for the likes of Kerrang and Uncut, as well as previously having a radio show for 6 Towns, he has interviewed hundreds of bands throughout his career.

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