Breakin’ Convention 2017

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Hosted by founder Jonzi D and local MC and music producer Martin Visceral, Breakin’ Convention is a real celebration of hip hop disciplines, offering audiences the opportunity to see both internationally renowned artists and local talent performing in one evening on the Lowry’s Lyric stage.

Not only is the stage alive with performers but the entire Lowry building is buzzing with activity before, during and after the show, giving a real carnival atmosphere to the nights proceedings. It’s wonderful to see such a diverse mix of theatregoers, as young and old alike gather together to enjoy the thrilling and talented performances and hip hop market place on site as the Lowry comes to life in this festival of movement and artistry.

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Act I sees performances from Fidget Feet, Gianluca Papa, Chad Taylor (Shockout) and Soweto Skeleton Movers. All unique in style and experience each piece is delivered with passion and offers some real crowd pleasing moments for the audience. Special mention must go to Soweto Skeleton Movers, experts in pantsula dance developed by Skeleton Mover pioneer Jabulani, their performance is fast, frentic and utterly fascinating. Their comedic contortion is incredible, at times you can’t quite believe what you are seeing, their level of skill and talent is extraordinary as they thrill and delight with their outstanding and brilliant magical hat tricks, an absolute must see!

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Act II introduces audiences to 01612twelve95, Tentacle Tribe and the incredible Just Dance from South Korea. Each gives an outstanding performance with Just Dance completely blowing the audience away with their utterly mesmerising skills. Their performance features traditional live Korean music delivered brilliantly by a Buddhist monk who compliments the style of the piece perfectly. Just Dance are bold, dynamic and utterly captivating, their performance is technically precise and visually stunning, the talent amongst this crew is staggering.

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Breakin’ Convention is a true celebration, spreading a message of positivity whilst constantly pushing the boundaries, roll on Breakin’ Convention 2018! Read more about the annual festival and see further tour dates here http://breakinconvention.com/

 

Trainspotting – In conversation with director Adam Spreadbury-Maher

 

Credit: Geraint Lewis

Fresh from its phenomenal success on a world tour, the smash hit immersive theatre production of Irvine Welsh and Danny Boyle’s iconic, generation defining Trainspotting comes to The Lowry Tue 6 – Sat 10 June.

 

The production captures the passion and the controversy of the famous novel, then globally successful film, and repackages it into a no-holds barred immersive show – the audience are literally part of the action, including the notorious “Worst Toilet in Scotland” scene!

 

Directed by Kings Head Theatre artistic director Adam Spreadbury-Maher in collaboration with Greg Esplin – the tour follows an eleven-week run at the Vaults and two sold-out seasons at the King’s Head Theatre.

 

Credit: Geraint Lewis

Opening Night got the chance to get up close with director Adam prior to the show coming to Salford.

 

ON: So what can we expect from this production of Trainspotting Adam?

 

ASM: For anyone who knows the film or the book you will know it’s an expansive story and covers a lots of times, places and people. We’ve only got seven actors so some of them do a bit of doubling and tripling up for us. Often we need the audience to become characters for us and sometimes they need to create extra bits of set for us. So, there’s a fair amount of being engaged with the piece and involved. It’s all about lots of fun which you will enjoy.

 

ON: What’s been the reaction from audiences who have seen it?

 

ASM: They loved it, it’s been amazing. You get all the fans of the film and the novel but you also see a completely new generation like 17 and 18 year olds who have just heard about the buzz on twitter and Instagram and are coming to check out what it is. There’s an amazing melting pot of people coming together to experience it.

Credit: Geraint Lewis

ON: How has it been for the actors being involved in such a ‘no-holds barred’ production?

 

ASM: We have a very brave and hard-working troupe of actors. It’s really wonderful to take a piece of theatre out from the proscenium arch where there’s a big gap between the audience and the piece and bring them right up close, I specialise in that kind of thing. For the actors there’s nowhere to hide and you can’t fake it, it’s got to be real.

 

ON: That’s quite a challenge isn’t it…

 

ASM: Yes, because it’s such a show that relies on the audience you never know what kind of show it’s going to be. The kind of audience that is there very much dictates how the it is going to go which is quite exciting but at the same time daunting.

 

ON: Were you a fan of Trainspotting before this?

ASM: I remember watching Trainspotting the film when I was 14 years old, it was one of the most incredible cinematic experiences I can remember from my childhood. Danny Boyle made a beautiful film, with a strong image about a character lying on the carpet in the lounge room just slipping down beneath the floorboards which was quite a toxic memory that has been imprinted on my mind.

 

ON: How do you feel about the show coming to The Lowry in June?

 

ASM: It’s always been my ambition to have my work at The Lowry and I can’t wait until we come there, especially as this marks my debut as a director.

 

We can’t wait for this production to come to Salford too. Choose to get your tickets now!

 

Trainspotting

Date: Tue 6 – Sat 10 June

Time: Tue – Sat 7pm. Fri & Sat 8.45pm.

Tickets: £22 – £27

Website

 

For full tour information, please visit trainspottinglive.com

 

Running time: 75 minutes – no interval

Warnings: Contains nudity, very strong language, heavy drug/needle use.

Age guidance: 16+

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lowry Competition!

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We are thrilled to be able to offer our reader the chance to win 2 x tickets to Symphonie Dramatique at the Lowry on Tuesday 23rd May!

Presented by French-Canadian company Cas Public, Symphonie Dramatique offers a darkly humorous look at the mythical couple, Romeo and Juliet combining ballet with elements of hip hop and video projections to tell the story of the two star-crossed lovers by award winning choreographer Hélène Blackburn.

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The performance takes place beneath a huge chandelier of wine glasses, alongside a score from Martin Tétreault that evokes Prokofiev, Tchaïkovski and Gounod. Switching suddenly and seamlessly between moments of wild abandon and abrupt stillness Cas Public’s dancers leave no space to get comfortable as you’re hurled from scene to scene. From sections en pointe to popping and locking you won’t know what to expect next.

Competition winners will receive 2 x tickets to Tuesday 23rd May, 8pm performance at the Lowry. To enter simply RT this post and follow us on twitter or like and share on Facebook! Winners will be announced on Sunday evening, good luck!

La Strada

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Ahead of a London run at The Other Palace this summer La Strada embarks on a small UK tour with the Lowry being one of the lucky theatres to host this magical production.

Based on the 1954 Oscar-winning film by Federico Fellini, La Strada is the story of young Gelsomina (Audrey Brisson) who is sold by her struggling mother to travelling strongman Zampano (Stuart Goodwin), she is to be his assistant, a post previously held by her sister Rosa who Zampano mysteriously tells us ‘Didn’t survive the winter’. Naïve Gelsomina is instructed to beat a drum and announce Zampano’s arrival whilst under constant and real the threat of being beaten until she gets it right, out of loyalty to her family and with a mission to understand what really did happen to her older sister Rosa, Gelsomina obeys, follows instruction and accompanies the bullish Zampano on his travels across Italy. Zampano frequently abandons Gelsomina overnight as he enjoys the hospitality of local women and more than a few jugs of wine, he is brutish and cruel yet she remains loyal and strives to please him. Things change when they join a travelling circus and Gelsomina meets Il Matto, The Fool (Bart Soroczynski) who has a long history of pressing Zampano’s buttons and pushing him just that bit too far. The Fool opens Gelsomina’s eyes to the fact that life is for living and that everything living and breathing has a purpose, no matter how insignificant it may seem, through their meeting we see Gelsomina find her inner strength and the courage to take back her life.

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Audrey Brisson is superb as Gelsomina, she perfectly embodies the shy and awkward young girl, she is captivating and engages the audience from her first moments on stage, her whole body is used to create this beautiful and frightened character, you believe her entirely and are desperate for her to succeed and to fly. Her development throughout the piece is a joy to watch, as her confidence grows and she starts to believe she matters and truly has a purpose in life. In contrast Stuart Goodwin’s Zampano is vulgar and unfeeling, he delivers the role of the yobbish strongman so convincingly you find yourself desperate for him to get his comeuppance. Bart Soroczynski is a delight in the role of The Fool, with superb circus skills he is utterly captivating, he is weary of being a clown yet if not a clown what else would he be? He finds humour in the irony of his life and pokes fun at not just himself but all around him, his sees humour where there is none, making you feel that for The Fool life has become a tragic cycle of painting a smile on his face yet insdide his heart aches.

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La Strada was devised by the entire company within the rehearsal rooms, with a guide on where they wanted the story to go, collectively the entire company worked together to decide how this piece got there, creating with it a real unity amongst the company. It is a beautifully dynamic and wholly enchanting piece of theatre, further evidence of just how thrilling and forward-thinking Director Sally Cookson’s work is. The piece is enthralling and utterly captivating, with an ensemble cast who move together so effortlessly it is at times as if they are as one. The talent of the actor-musicians on-stage outstanding. Cookson’s superb direction allows for her cast to really deliver the most perfect of productions. Katie Sykes’ stripped back set allows scenes to flow effortlessly into one another, while the cast use every inch of the stage in this physical and multi-layered production. La Strada is a delight, Cookson’s storytelling so rich that I literally didn’t want this production to end; it is a work of real beauty, full of heart, a true theatre gem.

On at the Lowry until Saturday https://www.thelowry.com/events/la-strada

 

BREAKIN’ CONVENTION ’17 brings its beats to The Lowry

JustDance by Belinda Lawley

Just Dance, image credit: Belinda Lawley

Sadler’s Wells’ critically acclaimed international festival of hip hop dance theatre, Breakin’ Convention, is back, with performances from UK and international companies and crews.

 

Following the annual festival at Sadler’s Wells over the May bank holiday (Saturday 29 April – Monday 1 May), Breakin’ Convention is now touring for a second consecutive year and comes to The Lowry, Salford Quays this weekend Friday 19 & Saturday 20 May.                                              

 

Now in its 14th year, the production is once again hosted and curated by Associate Artist Jonzi D who has changed the profile and influenced the development of the UK British hip hop dance and theatre scene over the last two decades.

jonzi D by Belinda Lwley

Jonzi D, image credit: Belinda Lawley

Breakin’ Convention is one of the world’s greatest celebrations of hip hop culture.

 

The tour line-up includes Soweto Skeleton Movers who mix comedic contortionism with the Pantsula dance style native to the townships of South Africa and perform to Kwaito music, a form of Afro house.

Breakin Convention 30 April 2017 at Sadlers Wells theatre.

Soweto Skeleton Movers, image credit: Paul Hampartsoumian

Joining them is Canadian group Tentacle Tribe, the Montreal-based dance company. Tentacle Tribe creates uncommon dance works with a contemporary twist using conceptual hip hop and influences from all types of earthly creatures.

tentacle_tribe_7 by Paul Hampartsoumian

Tentacle Tribe, image credit: Paul Hampartsoumian

Completing the international line up are Just Dance from South Korea with an updated vision of Korean shamanistic mask performance. Live Korean drumming accompanies a crew of poppers and B-boys, with many with world titles to their name.

 

The UK tour also offers local dance companies the opportunity to perform alongside the International acts. Local crews for The Lowry dates include:

 

Friday 19 May: 01612twelve95, Chad Taylor Dance, Fidget Feet, Shockout Arts

Saturday 20 May: Explosive, Lauren ‘Fidget’ Haywood, LadyBoy, Stage Pro Academy

 

 

Tickets on sale now https://www.thelowry.com/events/breakin-convention

 

Sukanya

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To say that Sukanya is Ravi Shankar’s only opera, while true, gives a misleading impression of his talent and influence on world music. Knowing he began writing it in the eighth decade of his life tells us more about his enthusiasm for music and his constant desire to find new ways to express this. It was to be his final work, and one can only imagine the weight of that in the hands of David Murphy, who completed the opera alongside Shankar’s daughter, Anoushka. Almost five years after Shankar’s death Murphy conducts the London Philharmonic for the opera’s premiere performances – the second of which is at The Lowry, Salford.

It feels like a true celebration, both of a life and of a true fusion of West and Eastern traditions. It opens with a solo sitar, the instrument for which Shankar was best known. Hearing Parimal Sadaphal play is probably as close as we’ll get to experiencing how Shankar might have interpreted it, given that he was taught by Shankar himself from the age of seven.

Sadaphal sits to one side of the foot of a wide staircase that opens to raised platform. At the other side sits Ashwani Shankar on the shehnai, an Indian instrument, like an oboe. The orchestra is seated on the stage and includes musicians playing the tabla, mridangam and ghatam percussion.

The scene is finally set using projections onto a backcloth, which take us from a night sky to a jungle, a palace and at one point we are in a room with photos of the maestro himself on the wall. Five classical Indian dancers, wearing ghungrus foot bells and five singers tell the story, supported the BBC singers chorus on both sides of the platform.

Visually there is a lot going on. At first it feels like the five singers are having to battle for attention. But, perhaps because in essence it is a simple static scene the atmosphere settles quickly and the overwhelming sense is one of space and rest. There are some wonderfully peaceful moments in the music as well as moments of vibrancy and joy that make you almost want to jump out of your seat and join in.

The story is based on a tale taken from an ancient Sanskrit, Mahābhārata. It tells a young princess, Sukanya whose destiny leads her to marry an old sage, Chyavana she finds in the woods, and her love is such that it restores both his youth and the sight to his bleeding eyes.

Shankar, who was 30 years older than his widow, Sukanya is said to have seen a connection between this ancient myth and his own life. The opera is named after his widow and it is as much a love letter to her as it is to his music.

The story itself is stretched to its limits, and there is one scene where Chyavana (Alok Kumar) sings to Sukanya (Susanna Hurrell) about the differences between Eastern and Western music, where we feel we’re being lectured to rather than entertained.

On the whole, this mythical love story is presented with a lightness of touch. The passion it creates is for the music and Shankar’s legacy is a genuine fusion of Eastern and Western traditions that feels a natural harmony.

Guest reviewer Carmel Thomason

 

 

The Toad Knew

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James Thierrée comes from an impressive artistic dynasty; most famously his grandfather was Charlie Chaplin, whilst great-grandfather was playwright Eugene O’Neill, creativity no doubt flows through his veins.

A child of the circus Thierrée brings his sixth production from his Compagnie du Hanneton The Toad Knew to the Lowry this week for 2 performances only.

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Six kidnapped siblings are trapped in a cobwebbed and dusty space, a skeletal staircase rises from the floor, a long forgotten tap drips somewhere in the distance. A wandering singer roams the stage, powerful and beguiling her vocals are jumbled and bluesy as they accompany the crackling soundtrack.

Thiérrée is the master of this show and acts out some brilliantly comedic sight gags which have the audience roaring with laughter, visually this piece is beautiful. Whilst his fellow performers wriggle and writhe the slapstick moments are those that shine brightest and thrill the audience.

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The full height of the Lowry’s lyric theatre is used to maximum effect as a collection of lights hover above our performers, influencing and affecting their behaviour. One performer weaves through the wires and cables that control the assent and descent of the lights with ease and real beauty, tangled amidst the power of the kaleidoscope.

Whilst the piece is visually beautiful it is at times a little frustrating, occasionally feeling that just as sections are gaining momentum they end rather than reaching their full potential and deliver the wow the audience is waiting for. Whilst a very entertaining piece the lack of punch means the production delivers more of a fizz rather than the bag that the talent on stage are clearly capable of. At 90 minutes straight through this is an interesting and charming piece with some moments of pure genius and impressive physical theatre, with just a few tweaks here and there it could be magnificent.

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On at the Lowry this evening 7.30pm https://www.thelowry.com/events/the-toad-knew