Actor Idris Elba will premiere a musical theatre production about life in South Africa after Nelson Mandela at a festival next year while Yoko Ono, the widow of John Lennon,will invite people to gather in Manchester’s Cathedral Gardens for event Bells For Peace.
The performance will see thousands of diverse voices and a people’s orchestra of bells ring out for peace.
Yoko Ono has been among the world’s most renowned and respected artists for more than 50 years. This new commission is the first major work she has created for the city of Manchester.
As the opening event Bells for Piece follows the success in 2017 of What Is the City but the People?, which was an opportunity for the people of Manchester to present a self-portrait of themselves and the place they live.
Yoko Ono said: “The beauty of this piece will break the sky and more. One of the reasons this is very different is the fact that all of us will be making the sound together. More than ever, we must come together to heal each other, and the world. PEACE is POWER! I love you all.”
Elba’s Tree, created with Kwame Kwei-Armah, the artistic director of London’s Young Vic, takes audiences on a thrilling journey in search of the soul and spirit of contemporary South Africa. Created by Idris Elba, whose album Mi Mandela provides the soundtrack, and Kwame Kwei-Armah, the new Artistic Director of London’s Young Vic, this major world-premiere production takes place in the round within Upper Campfield Market Hall, one of Manchester’s most atmospheric spaces.
Idris and Kwame’s new work features music, dance and film combined with an exciting and dynamic cast to explore the past, present and future of a country at a crossroads – all through the eyes of one young man on a journey of healing.
Idris Elba said “Kwame and I have both had a strong desire to work with each other for a long time now; we’ve known each other since we were in our very early twenties and have talked about the kernel of an idea for this show for a while. Our joint ambition being to make a piece of work inspired by South Africa, using the album Mi Mandela as a starting point. We’ve both experienced personal moments of healing connected with the country and we’re starting to explore that together. For me, an interesting part of the process is looking at the next part of the story; the new universe that sprung up after Mandela. To be able to investigate that with Kwame, a writer with such tremendous vision for whom I have great respect and love, and within the artistic community of MIF, is something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time.”
Skepta invites you to enter another world in this series of intimate and immersive experiences. Held in a secret Manchester location, Dystopia987 is a waking dream that presents Skepta’s singular vision of the future: deep, dark, radical and riveting.
Featuring a live set from Skepta, guest appearances from hand-picked performers and DJs, a wealth of new technology and a cast inhabiting a hidden netherworld, Dystopia987 is a journey into eternity – a future riven with uncertainty and fear but rich in wonder and possibility.
Since emerging as a producer and MC in 2004, Skepta has become one of the most significant British artists in music today. The Mercury Prize winner and BRIT Award nominee has built a diverse audience through both recordings and live performances, and his enduring influence is felt throughout contemporary culture.
Skepta described the project as “Real Life Magic”
MIF Artistic Director and CEO John McGrath said: “I’m thrilled to be announcing the involvement of such extraordinary artists in Manchester International Festival 2019. Yoko Ono will be creating a very special opening event for Mancunians – and the world – in the city centre: a joyful response to our complicated times. Idris Elba is one of the most dynamic creative figures working today, and in this new collaboration with the wonderful Kwame Kwei-Armah, he brings his vision and passion to a brand-new piece of musical theatre. And Skepta, an artist known for pushing musical boundaries, is going to be surprising everyone with a vision of the future that is immersive, high tech and personal.”