Manchester arts hub Contact launches groundbreaking ‘podwalk’ for a unique tour of the city

The audio-visual show turns your phone into a video portal, allowing participants to see Manchester as they have never seen it before.

Manchester arts hub Contact has unveiled a new audio-visual show taking people on a tour of the city which combines video technology with live performance.

‘While We Were Waiting… Something Changed’ is a partnership between Contact Young Company and arts organisation Gob Squad, which is based in both Germany and the UK and specialises in mixed-media immersive events.

The show arrives in the city at the end of the month and anyone who comes along is promised a view of the city as they have never seen it before.

What is the audio-visual show?

‘While We Were Waiting… Something Changed’ has been described by Contact as a “podwalk”.

Participants’ phones will be turned into an audio-visual portal and they will then follow an undisclosed route around the city.

The audience will be led by live performers who will act as their tour guides on the journey, while they will also follow films on their screens as they make their way around.

The podwalk gives people an immersive and unusual view of the city

The exact details of the tour are being kept under wraps, but Contact has said it will take around an hour, begin and end at the arts hub on Oxford Road and pass a number of notable city landmarks.

The creators hope it will shine a light on the beauty and creativity Manchester has to offer while also exploring some of the darker corners of contemporary culture and thinking about just how prevalent screens are in our everyday lives in the 21st century.

They also say the podwalk will explore key rites of passages ranging from adolescence to adulthood.

How do I go to the show?

The podwalk is coming to Contact between Thursday 28 July and Saturday 30 July.

Tickets are £5 and can be bought from Contact’s website here.

Who is behind the show?

The podwalk is a collaboration between Contact Young Company, the ensemble at the culture hub which nurtures the next generation of Manchester’s artistic talent, and Gob Squad who are a group of British and German artists that create performances and videos which seek to make ordinary life extraordinary and beautiful.

They are an artist collective, with the seven core members working together on the concept, direction and performance of their work.

Their work is regularly shown throughout Europe and has toured all the continents excluding Antarctica and has also been set in locations such as houses, shops, underground stations, car parks, hotels and directly on the street as well as in theatres and art galleries.

What has been said about the podwalk?

Keisha Thompson, artistic director and CEO of Contact, said: “We’re so excited to be collaborating with GobSquad on ‘While We Were Waiting...Something Changed’.

“Having produced and co-directed Contact Young Company performances in a creative capacity, I know first-hand how fun, accessible and provocative CYC shows can be, and how important the company is to emerging young artists.”

Gob Squad founding member and director of the podwalk Sarah Thom said: “Most people believe in transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary but at Gob Squad we believe the ordinary is already extraordinary.

The show blends films on mobile devices with live performers

“In ‘While We Were Waiting…Something Changed’, the audience will have the opportunity to combine performance with low-fi augmented reality to jump into another portal and explore what Manchester could be.”

Assistant director Scarlett-Rose Summers said: “It has been a joy to work with Gob Squad and CYC on this innovative, immersive new project.

“As a former CYC participant, the process of devising a show in collaboration with an internationally renowned theatre company has been a dream, and I’m thankful to Contact for the opportunity to stretch my directorial legs.

“I’ll never look at Manchester in the same way after this podwalk!”