Manchester theatre 53two unveils first season for autumn and winter - five events you won’t want to miss

The line-up includes world premieres of new writing and opportunities for Greater Manchester artistic talent to showcase their skills.

Manchester theatre 53two has marked an important milestone in its development by announcing its first season just over a year after moving into its new venue.

The independent arts hub has announced a programme of events for the autumn and winter including premieres of new work and opportunities for Greater Manchester talent to tread the boards.

Previously located at the old Bauer Millet Garage, 53two is now based on Watson Street and has welcomed creatives and arts groups from across the city-region to produce work there.

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    There’s a lot on the first 53two official season, but we’ve had a look through the programme and picked out five shows you won’t want to miss.

    Manchester independent theatre 53two

    Things That Divide Us


    In September the area of 53two known as “the arches” will unveil its new 150-seat theatre with Joshua Chandos’ new work Things That Divide Us.

    The piece follows Kitty and David as an unlikely friendship blossoms and they realise they have more in common than they first though as they, bond over a shared passion to fix the ever-growing immigration problems.

    Creative director Simon Naylor, who will be directing the one-act show, said: “I was lucky enough to read the play in lockdown whilst judging for Capsule Festival and I loved it. A beautifully simple piece with emotional intricacies threaded throughout. All based in the most unlikely setting of the Calais Jungle.

    “It has heart, it has passion and it has a message. And it’s new writing and 53two is absolutely here for that, I’m beyond excited to get stuck into rehearsals and get 53two doing what we do best.”

    Things That Divide Us is on from 13 September until 1 October.


    JB Shorts

    The arches will welcome back JB Shorts for six short plays penned by TV writers and crafted into shape by directors and actors from across Greater Manchester.

    The two-week run begins from 11 October and a varied programme of drama is guaranteed.


    The mini-festival run by 53two is back in November with writers and actors being given the opportunity to share brand work in three different tiers of performance.


    The venue is given over to creatives at reduced rates to show their work to audiences of the public, producers and directors, without the pressure of a full production.

    The theatre space at 53two

    The venue says it does this because too often scripts get written but then never see the light of day due to a combination of the cost and difficulty of finding the right place to showcase them.

    Seated script readings, rehearsed readings or scaled-back productions are all on offer to creatives across Greater Manchester as the venue opens its doors to three slots a day; morning, afternoon and evening. Prices begin at just £50 and enquiries are now being taken via the 53two website.

    Dibby Theatre


    Dibby Theatre has a well-established relationship with 53two and the award-winning LGBTQ-led company is returning with another world premiere.

    The company is coming back to Manchester with a new play by Chris Hoyle and audiences are being told to expect northern wit, grit and soul in abundance.

    Since initially linking up with 53two at the arts hub’s old venue Dibby Theatre has toured the UK and it has delivered industry-leading talent development and community outreach work in Greater Manchester too.

    Unfortunately, due to funding issues this production has now been pushed back a bit, with the company saying on social media that it hopes to put the play on in early 2023.

    Realms of Glory


    The 2022 programme at 53two will be rounded out in December with Imaginality Productions putting on the world premiere of Realms of Glory.

    Set at Christmas in 1940, to a toe-tapping score inspired by the golden age of wartime music, this new musical tells the story of Lizzie, a munitions worker who is caught up in the air raids of the Manchester Blitz.

    Trapped beneath the streets, she takes us on a whistle-stop tour of her life in Manchester, taking in her formative years, life with the lively locals and a whirlwind romance with her RAF pilot husband.

    However, all is not as it seems and the show provides a heart-warming narrative on grief and fighting for second chances. This unique take on a Christmas tale runs between 14 and 22 December.