One of the highlights from this year’s Refract:18 festival is the set by Minute Taker. Alternative singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist – aka Ben McGarvey – is one of those artists that often people rave about and critics pine for. He’s released two critically acclaimed albums and has composed several soundtracks for stage. Caught In The Act managed to grab some time with him and wax lyrical about stage names, independent artists doing it for themselves and our mutual love of all things Kate Bush.
Now in its second year, the Refract:18 festival kicks off this week with ten days of experiential performance, music and events, all aiming to challenge visitors to see things differently. Caught In The Act managed to wrangle an interview with Darren Adams, one of the men behind Refract, and we talked about pushing the boundaries, attracting new audiences and newts taking over the human race!
This is fast becoming a summer where we look back and remember the hot weather and the smokey smell from the Moor fire, when England mesmerized a nation in the World Cup and how Maxine Peake became the face of Royal Exchange. Fresh from rave reviews in her turn as Winnie in Happy Days she has returned this time in the guise of writer to tell us the true story of four women and one last act of protest in Queens of the Coal Age.
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Not everyone likes musical theatre. However, it remains such a staple in mainstream theatre, with several established theatre houses opting to put on big extravaganzas hoping to draw in the masses. Whilst this is all well and good in the West End of London’s theatre heartland, with their array of stars and big set designs, once on tour these theatrical musical hits become a watered down version of original best sellers. Yet, despite these misgivings, shows such as these provide a wonderful evening at a theatre.
The Manchester theatre scene is resplendent with great theatres, great actors and great plays that often transcends boundaries. However, we forget that the Manchester theatre scene also celebrates what it is to be from Manchester. Having had the pleasure to attend the Where We Are Double Bill performance recently, it brought home the hard work put in by Monkeywood Theatre and Take Back Theatre in creating productions that intrinsically speak to a Mancunian audience and the support from Home Manchester in allowing such productions to be part of their programme.