I’m fond of the 24:7 Theatre Festival. I’m fond of its organisers, volunteers and general ethos. I’m fond of some of the productions I’ve seen over the past three years I’ve known about it and I’m sad I’m not a part of it this year. Instead, I’ll be popping on my reviewer hat and spending 10 glorious hours watching brand new work.
Nestled between the Manchester International Festival and the Manchester Jazz Festival, it’s a welcome celebration of new writing, local acting talent and the chance for the whole theatre community in the North to come together and celebrate.
I’m particularly fond of 24:7 as I’ve produced shows for it two years on the trot. My first, back in 2011 was a blast. The Shadow of Your Hand by Michael Stewart, directed by Sue Jenkins, starring Sue’s youngest, Rosie Fleeshman, and Steven Pinder was a baptism of fire.
I first met my pal, Lucy Allan, here. She was part of the trainee scheme and came on board our production as Sue’s assistant director. Lucy and I then worked on several other shows together with my production company, House of Orphans. In fact, we worked so well together, we decided to do it all again last year with Hekate Papadaki’s, The Interpreter, Home. Lucy has relocated to that there London where she directs and I’m currently writing for the BBC. I won’t go so far as to say it’s all because of the festival but we both cut our teeth here.
Now in its 10th year, the festival has seen many of its productions go on to win awards, often touring the country, and some of its writers and directors continue with flourishing, successful careers in the business.
This year there are a few new and exciting additions among the 10 shows. It is the first time the festivities have included a devised piece, in the guise of The Young by Abi Hynes and company. There was also, until recently, a site-specific piece but after the recent fire on Oldham Street, where fire fighter, Stephen Hunt tragically lost his life, it was felt by executive producer of the festival David Slack and Manchester Fire Service that Manchester’s Burning – set in a fire station – should be cancelled.
Also on offer are rehearsed readings, a quiz, live music, talks, and general excuses for chewing the fat with theatre actors, directors and producers. It’s always fun, never dull and there really is something for everyone. If you’re a 24:7 virgin, pop your cherry on an hour of new writing. You won’t regret it.
Preview by Lucia Cox
Where: various locations across Manchester
When: until July 26