Another successful MIF has passed and the volunteers from the Manchester studio – Gillian, Jen, Sophia and myself – can finally relax. The festival dubbed ‘the best one yet’ saw the city transformed into a hub of culture, music and theatre, as everyone came together to celebrate the arts.
Volunteer highlights were aplenty, with access given to many of the performances in exchange for our time. My personal highlight was 'Tao of Glass' in the Practice’s own Royal Exchange Theatre – a mesmerising collaboration between composer Philip Glass and puppeteer Phelim McDermott.
Another highlight was meeting Idris Elba at the preview of 'Tree', an electrifying blend of drama, music and dance following one man’s journey into the heart and soul of contemporary South Africa – with the audience at the centre of the action. Well worth a watch if it goes on tour.
But not all shifts provided such great rewards. One included being a human sign post for passers-by as they explored the city in 'Utopolis Manchester', a citywide scavenger hunt/site-specific work that shades into immersive theatre… and, of course it was raining. But such is the nature of volunteering for a festival – it can’t always be glitz and glamour, and to be honest, standing around for three hours wasn’t that bad. It provided the chance to see people enjoy the city I call home and reminded me some of the reasons why I chose to live here.
We now wait with eager anticipation for MIF 2021 where the festival will benefit from the newly constructed Factory, a uniquely flexible venue that will provide new spaces for arts, music and theatre. The Factory will be a place where audiences embrace the unexpected and where MIF meets the world!