Steve cowton on the autumn programme

Although it’s been challenging in lots of ways, it’s also been incredibly exciting to re-open our Theatre and see audiences returning again.

I was sitting in our Lyric Theatre last week watching Carlos Acosta and I was reminded of everything that’s unique and special about being part of a live audience – the buzz of anticipation before the show and the shared euphoria of a standing ovation at the end!

A lot of attention at the moment has been focussed around the West End and large scale touring shows – but from September we’ll also be cautiously re-opening our Quays Theatre and the Aldridge Studio.

A healthy theatre scene depends on a thriving mid and small scale touring network – and it’s absolutely vital that large organisations like The Lowry do everything we can to nurture and support young and emerging artists.

We also believe in offering audiences a broad range of work across all art-forms and at all scales.

I thought I’d use this opportunity to introduce our Autumn programme – and suggest some of the shows which I think you should be looking out for – tickets for all of these shows are on sale now.

Top Picks

Dance has always been an important part of our programme – we’re probably unique in the UK in that we can present dance at three different scales. One of the highlights of our Autumn programme is the return of Akram Khan with his brilliant Xenos – which manages to be epic in scale while remaining incredibly intimate and personal.

The Lyric Theatre will also host Rambert with Draw From Within which we presented as a live stream earlier this year. In the Quays Theatre we look forward to welcoming Ballet Lorent with The Lost Happy Endings – this is the third part of a trilogy of family dance shows from the company – inspired by the poetry of Carol Ann Duffy – and narrated in the show by Joanna Lumley. Ballet Black are one of the most innovative and ground breaking dance companies in the country – appearing at the Olympics in 2012 and alongside Stormzy at his seminal Glastonbury performance. The company will be presenting a double bill of new work from Will Tuckett and Mthuthuzeli November.

Botis Seva is one of the most exciting young choreographers of our time – winning an Olivier Award for BLKDOG in 2019 – and finally able to make his full Lowry debut with this extraordinary and powerful show.

Our Artist Development Programme does an amazing job of identifying and supporting promising young artists. We’ve been working with Dickson Mbi for over a year now – helping him develop his first solo show which will finally make its full premiere on the Quays Theatre stage in November. The show was inspired by a life-changing visit to his ancestral home of Cameroon – Enowate, meaning ‘truth stands’ – draws on sinuous elements of hip hop and contemporary dance in combination with original music and otherworldly animated projections.

It promises to be an epic Autumn of CarmenOpera North present the familiar Bizet version of the story in the Lyric – while in the Quays Theatre we present a stunning new dance version from Jose Agudo. A few years ago we presented Agudo Dance with Silk Road in the Compass Room and this new show looks to be just as stunning.

We also have a brilliant range of drama throughout the Autumn. We open with Told by An Idiot’s fabulous homage to the golden days of Silent Comedy – Charlie and Stan tells the true story of a transatlantic crossing by Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel – who almost agreed to become a double act. This silent show features live piano accompaniment and has spent the Summer at the open-air Minack Theatre in Cornwall – visiting The Lowry before an extended run in the West End.

Eastern Angles make their Lowry debut with the Ballad of Maria Marten – the classic murder mystery story which became famous as the Red Barn Murder, while Lung Theatre return to The Aldridge Studio with their stunning production of Who Cares – their amazing verbatim piece based on the experiences of young carers living in Salford. The show has been seen all over the country – and even in The House of Lords.

One of the highlights of our lockdown open-air programme was Dr Blood – a bizarre theatre and film production from Lancaster-based Imitating The Dog which we presented on our service road. Happily, the company return to the Quays Theatre – where it will at least be warmer – with an experimental digital version of Dracula – part of a very strange Halloween double bill with Chateau Ghoul from Lip Service!

Theatre Re are one of the most innovative companies in the country – with a very unique physical theatre style that transcends language. Birth was originally scheduled for 2020 but we’re absolutely delighted to be able to finally present it in 2021.

Finally – of course – we need to talk about circus. We have three amazing solo shows from three brilliant and inspirational women. Laura Murphy’s Contra is one of the bravest and most formidable performances I’ve ever seen. It defies easy categorisation or indeed explanation – but is just a phenomenal piece of theatre. Nikki Rummer was one half of Nikki and JD whose production Knot was one of the hit shows of the last Edinburgh Fringe. Her new show has been co-commissioned by The Lowry and is called Unbroken – Niki spent Lockdown creating amazing films – but this will be her first return to an actual stage.

Finally, Charmaine Childs is a circus strong lady – or acrobatic base – and we commissioned her show Power as part of our WEEK 53 Festival which sadly never took place – but finally we are able to present this brilliant and moving show.

One of the unexpected benefits of the pandemic was the way it forced artists to come together and support each other through adversity.

Jacksons Lane is the main circus venue in the country – and they’ve received ACE funding to create a special touring circus cabaret show called Luminosa.

We’ll be presenting two versions – Little Luminosa for families and a slightly more adult version for grown-ups! Extraordinary Bodies are a fearless integrated company working with disabled and non-disabled performers and we’re very proud to be bringing their new show Human to the Quays Theatre in November – one of their two performances will be socially distanced for audience members who may be vulnerable or still shielding.

We’re still adding more shows – and I haven’t included the comedy or family shows in this round up – so do please keep checking the website for more information – and look out for new shows as they are added – especially in the Aldridge Studio where we’re still confirming the programme.

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