Following on from project managing the award-winning Northumberland Lights lighting scheme, White Light’s Jack Thompson has taken on an even more demanding role: technical director of theatre for the Manchester International Festival.
Running from June 28th to July 15th, the Manchester International Festival is billed as the “world’s first international festival of original, new work.” Featuring over 25 specially commissioned productions, performances, and projects the Festival incorporates an enormously diverse range of shows from music to theatre, created and performed by artists from around the world.
Thompson’s new role oversees the technical production element of the festival’s theatre shows. These include Monkey: Journey To The West, an opera featuring 36 Chinese acrobats and 40 musicians conceived and directed by Chen Shi-Zheng with music by Damon Albarn, visuals and animations by Jamie Hewlett, lighting by Nick Richings and sound by Clem Rawling; The Pianist, a show about the second world war at the Museum of Science Industry directed by Neil Bartlett with lighting by Chris Davey; Interiors, a piece conceived by Johnny Vegas and Stewart Lee which will have Vegas inviting people to view a house he wants to sell; and Il Tempo del Postino at the Opera House, which will see 13 visual artists each creating a piece of art following only two rules: each no longer than fifteen minutes, and no video projection. In addition there are debates around the City, a Great Indoors free weekend for children and performances at many of Manchester’s other theatres, including the Library, the Royal Exchange, the Contact, and the Cornerhouse.
Thompson is poised and ready for a demanding few months, and is already facing up to the challenges the shows will offer, noting cheerfully that “The Interiors show will be fine once we find a house, and The Pianist, which involves pianist Mikhail Rudy playing a Steinway D-type grand piano is a lovely simple show with an audience in the round. Except, of course, the piano won’t fit in the building’s lift so will need craning in.” Thompson will be working alongside the festival’s director Alex Poots, with Dave Lawrence looking after the technical management of the rock-and-roll events. He will be fitting the Festival around other projects for White Light, including a number of corporate projects and lighting a show for the Liverpool Empire.