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Posted: 24th November 2016 09:14

New Artistic Director John McGrath reveals snapshot of his first programme, running 29 June – 16 July 2017
Artists – including Boris Charmatz, Yael Bartana, Vicky Featherstone, Scott Graham, Karl Hyde, Simon Stephens and Jeremy Deller – engage with urgent stories of our time
Also announced for autumn 2016 is major community participation programme featuring micro international festivals taking place in local houses
Following his appointment in 2015 as the new Artistic Director of Manchester International Festival, John McGrath today announces the first shows from his debut Festival programme, which runs 29 June – 16 July 2017.
Bringing together international artists from the worlds of visual art, dance, theatre and music, the line-up looks forward to the full MIF17 programme, to be announced 9 March 2017.
The first four Festival commissions run from the global – Yael Bartana’s upending of Dr Strangelove’s phallocentric worldview – to the local, with What Is the City but the People? a uniquely Mancunian self-portrait. The Festival reaffirms its European connections with new work by Boris Charmatz, and looks deep in to the heart of the men of England with Fatherland.
The first four MIF17 commissions are:

  • What if Women Ruled the World?– this vital and dramatic new work addresses the most urgent question of the current moment. Taking Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove as a provocation, the film’s final scene of a surviving nucleus of male leaders repopulating the earth is the inspiration to imagine a reverse scenario: what if women ruled the world? Each night, a group of 10 women and one man will be confronted by some of the urgent crises of our time: climate change, military escalation, mass migration. In this brand new work created by artist Yael Bartana, with the performance directed by Royal Court Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone, a professional cast will be joined by a group of female experts: scientists, politicians, artists and thinkers of global reputation. Together, they’ll spend the evening trying to solve that night’s global emergency as the clock ticks above them…
  • What Is the City but the People?–  for the opening event of MIF17, Manchester’s meeting place will be the setting for a self-portrait of the city. A specially designed walkway in Piccadilly Gardens will welcome a selection of local residents, who will parade on the runway to musical accompaniment for audiences both in the streets and online. Ranging from high-fashion statements to far more personal moments, What Is the City but the People? will capture Manchester through its outfits, attitudes and individuality. Created by the People of Manchester from an idea by Jeremy Deller, in association with Islington Mill.    
  • 10000 Gestures– Boris Charmatz, one of Europe’s greatest dance makers, reveals his newest work in a special pre-premiere in Manchester. Celebrated for his radical and experimental approach to contemporary dance, 10000 Gestures sees Charmatz take over a found space in the city centre for this joyful, provocative piece in which the 25-strong ensemble dance without ever repeating a single movement.
  • Fatherland– a bold new theatre show created by Scott Graham from Frantic Assembly, Underworld’s Karl Hyde and playwright Simon Stephens, focusing on contemporary fatherhood in all its complexities and contradictions. Inspired by conversations with fathers and sons from the trio’s home towns in the heart of the country, Fatherland is a survey of life in England’s towns today. The show will transform the familiar spaces of Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre, with a cast of 13 men and a remarkable, all-embracing musical score by Karl Hyde and Matthew Herbert.

John McGrath said: ‘It’s exciting to be announcing our first four commissions and events for MIF17, with 20 more still to come. As a Festival of new work, MIF is uniquely able to respond to our changing world. The artists in our 2017 programme have a lot to say about the times we live in – and they’re responding in unexpected ways, from reimagining Dr Strangelove to creating a huge fashion runway in Piccadilly Gardens. MIF has always been and will remain fiercely international, inviting major artists such as Boris Charmatz and Yael Bartana to create new work. We’re also proudly engaged in our city: My Festival, our new initiative, will provide a range of new ways for local artists and communities to be part of what we do, year-round.  As the incoming Artistic Director, I’m thrilled to be part of MIF’s extraordinary creative ambition, and I look forward to sharing more of our plans in the months ahead.’
New for MIF17 is a major programme of work with local people, My Festival: MIF’s Creative Community.
My Festival is a new year-round initiative designed to build ongoing relationships between MIF and local people through creative projects, skills development and training and more.
The first My Festival project is Festival in My House, a series of micro international festivals curated by local people and hosted in their own houses for neighbours, friends and MIF audiences. The pilot projects in November and December 2016 are:
-        M8 Festival – curated by Yatie Aziz from Cheetham Hill, featuring cross cultural music, food and dance
-        Mehndi Festival – curated by Nija Dalal-Smith from Levenshulme, inviting Manchester-based visual artists from across different disciplines to interpret this traditional art form and create their own contemporary mehndi hand decoration
For more information on My Festival and to submit ideas for your own micro festival, visit    
Tickets for 10000 Gestures and Fatherland go on sale at 10am on Thursday 17 November via and 0843 208 1840. Tickets for What if Women Ruled the World go on sale in March 2017.
The full MIF17 programme will be announced Thursday 9 March 2017.
For more information contact Nadja Coyne, Press & PR Director / 07799 532 373 or Press Office Jamie-leigh Hargreaves / 0161 817 4542

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