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Manchester's Aviva Studios arts centre opens

Updated: Oct 7, 2023

Manchester's Aviva Studios. Pic: Pawel Paniczko
Aviva Studios. Pic: Pawel Paniczko

Bury's multiple Oscar and BAFTA-winning director Danny Boyle is at the helm for multimedia, immersive extravaganza Free Your Mind, the official opening production at Aviva Studios, Manchester's new £240m (and rising) international arts centre (previews October 13-17; then October 18-November 5).

Based on The Matrix films and created specially for the opening of the landmark venue, Free Your Mind is a retelling of the modern-classic 1999 sci-fi series through dance, music and visual effects, featuring 50 professional dancers and taking place throughout the building’s ultra-flexible spaces.

Choreography is by Kenrick "H2O" Sandy MBE, with a score from composer Michael "Mikey J" Asante MBE (co-founders and artistic directors of the Olivier award-winning Boy Blue), with large-scale stage sculptures by world-leading designer Es Devlin.

The creative team also includes writer Sabrina Mahfouz, costume designer Gareth Pugh, award-winning lighting designer Lucy Carter, sound designer Gareth Fry and renowned video designer Luke Halls.

Free Your Mind promises to recreate some of the film’s most iconic scenes, through hip-hop choreography, immersive set design and visual effects, all provoking visions of the movie's alternate future.

The show will bring the words of Matrix character Neo to the forefront: “I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it’s going to begin.”

Programmed and operated by Factory International - the team that delivers the Manchester International Festival - Aviva Studios aims for a year-round programme by leading artists from across the world, creating a global destination for arts, music and culture in the heart of Manchester.

Aviva itself is a 13,350 sq m building that includes the Warehouse – a 21m high space with capacity for up to 5,000 people standing, which can also be divided by a movable, full-height acoustic wall.

There’s also the main Hall, with a flexible stage that can house an audience of up to 1,600 seated or 2,000 standing, as well as other spaces to explore, inside and out. The Warehouse and the Hall can also work together – allowing the stage to run deeper into the building.

More info here


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