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Danny Boyle will direct Factory International’s opening production


Danny Boyle will direct the official opening production at Manchester’s eagerly awaited Factory International cultural space, which is due to open in June 2023.

The multi-Oscar winning Mancunian director of 2012’s London Olympics opening ceremony as well as films such as Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting will take charge of Free Your Mind, a large-scale immersive performance based on The Matrix films presented across the building’s ultra-flexible spaces.

The dramatic retelling through dance, music and visual effects will also feature input from choreographer Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy MBE, a score from renowned composer Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante MBE, world-leading designer Es Devlin’s large-scale stage sculptures and writer Sabrina Mahfouz alongside a cast of professional dancers and hundreds of Manchester participants who will recreate some of the film’s most iconic scenes, provoking visions of an alternative future.

The opening plans were announced at today’s launch for Factory International, which will be operated by the team behind the world-famous Manchester International Festival (MIF) and offer a global destination for arts, music and culture, as well as commissioning and presenting a year-round programme by leading artists from across the world. It is the largest investment in a national cultural project since the opening of Tate Modern in 2000, thanks to initial HM Government investment and backing from Manchester City Council and Arts Council England.

Boyle’s official opening production will debut in October, but before then the new venue will form the centrepiece of the 2023 Manchester International Festival, which returns across the city from 29 June to 16 July, with a major exhibition in its main warehouse space. You, Me and the Balloons celebrates three decades of Yayoi Kusama’s spectacular inflatable sculptures, shown together for the first time.

Created especially for Factory International, this will be the renowned Japanese contemporary artist’s largest ever immersive environment, featuring works that are over ten metres tall – including giant dolls, spectacular tendrilled landscapes and a vast constellation of polka-dot spheres (29 June – 28 August 2023).

Reflecting Factory International’s commitment to ensuring access to the widest possible audiences, 5,000 tickets will be available for Free Your Mind at £10 or less as part of an affordable pricing strategy that will see discounted tickets for Manchester communities across its year-round programme.

Designed by the world-leading Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), with OMA Partner, Ellen van Loon as lead architect, Factory International is the practice’s first major public project in the UK. Spanning 13,350 square metres, the ultra-flexible building will offer multiple configurations, enabling large-scale artistic work of invention and ambition that is not made anywhere else.

Audiences will be able to enjoy year-round, in a new world class facility, the broadest range of art forms from major exhibitions and concerts to intimate performances and immersive experiences. Outside, its public areas will come alive with pop-up performances, events and markets, creating a thriving riverside destination for audiences to enjoy.

Factory International is located in the new St John’s neighbourhood which is being developed on the site of the former Granada Studios next to the River Irwell and will make a major contribution to the ongoing regeneration of this part of the city centre.

Boyle said: “I’m delighted to be part of Factory International as a starting point for a kind of identity that this extraordinary new building is going to have. It’s a space that gives you an enormous amount of potential. It’s wildly ambitious in terms of its scale. In my lifetime, to see a new space like this open is hugely empowering, and I hope the new generation of artists feel that power.”

John McGrath, artistic director & chief executive of Factory International, added: “We’re delighted to be able to share our opening plans for Factory International. At every stage in imagining and building this extraordinary space we have focussed on creating new possibilities – for artists to let their imaginations fly, for citizens of Manchester and the world to meet and dream, and for people of all ages and backgrounds to build skills and gain experience. Factory International is truly a place where we can invent tomorrow together.”


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