Manchester arts hub Contact unveils autumn season - here are five shows you won’t want to miss

The programme ranges from neurodivergent cabaret to a carbon-neutral dance party to an exploration of Britishness and football culture.

Manchester culture hub Contact has unveiled its autumn season with a packed programme that promises something for everyone.

The Oxford Road arts centre will present everything from neurodivergent cabaret to a carbon-neutral dance party to works on subjects including tennis and football.

Contact, which is also beginning its celebration of half a century of nurturing artistic talent this year, says it is marking the milestone with some of its most distinctive and unusual projects to date.

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    The autumn season is also the first since Keisha Thompson took over as CEO and artistic director of the building she is keen to call “the castle of curiosity”.

    ManchesterWorld has had a look through the programme and picked out five highlights.

    Halo

    Contact Young Company is a training ground for the next generation of Mancunian theatrical talent and this autumn it takes to the boards under Keisha’s directorship.

    The young actors will put on Halo, a work inspired by the Halo Code which is a campaign fighting for the protection and celebration of Black hair and hairstyles in schools and workplaces.

    The show is coming to Contact with the help of the Halo Collective.

    14%

    Keisha’s writing talent is also on display during the season in the shape of 14%, which takes on the subjects of racism in football culture and the politics of DNA testing.

    Set in a train carriage, this two-hander sees protagonists Nadia and Nik attempt to quantify their Britishness.

    Keisha Thompson in the theatre at Contact. Photo: Audrey Albert

    The work, which will be performed in November, was initially piloted as a Talawa First work in 2021 and will now premiere at the same time the men’s World Cup takes place in Qatar, with the production being supported by the National Football Museum in Manchester.

    It is directed by Kwame Asiedu and has music by Werkha.

    Lob

    Football is not the only sport getting the Contact treatment this autumn as the venue also takes a look at tennis in the shape of Roma Havers’ piece Lob.

    A tennis and poetry bonanza, the show is about moving through sporting spaces as a queer body.

    Lob

    The show finally comes to the stage following its initial premiere as part of the Queer Contact festival in 2021 as a Contact Commissioned film.

    Not F**kin Sorry

    As ever Contact will present a top range of ground-breaking, barrier-smashing touring shows to go alongside its own in-house productions during the autumn season.

    With a premise as eye-catching as its name, Not F**kin Sorry comes from Not Your Circus Dog and comes to Manchester after a successful run at the Soho Theatre.

    This collective of learning disabled and neurodivergent performers are unapologetically themselves and perform shamelessly sexy, punk, crip cabaret. Audiences should expect an evening of luscious lip syncs, sweaty dances and verbatim stories.

    Black Angel 25

    Contact’s autumn season also features a number of special events and one of them is the return of Black Angel 25.

    Black Angel

    The pioneering club night will be back on Oxford Road in October to celebrate the milestone of quarter of a century and the part it played it giving birth to the Black and Asian LGBT+ club scene in Manchester.

    How do I get tickets?

    Tickets for the autumn season went on sale on Friday 24 June. To find out more, including being able to see the full programme of events, visit Contact’s website here.

    What has been said about the new season?

    Keisha Thompson, Contact’s new artistic director and CEO, said: “It is Contact’s 50th year from August. During this time, we have established a unique place for young people to forge creative careers.

    “The autumn season will celebrate dynamic new work from some incredible talent and highlight some of our precious alumni. Our artists are making work about the most prescient issues - from climate justice to motherhood, football to queer stories.

    “We hope our audiences will enjoy digesting these topics via visually stunning and vibrant performances. Whether you fancy spoken word, theatre, comedy or dance or ingenious new multi-media works, we will have something for you. You have my word!”