BBC News

Maxine Peake for Manchester International Festival

By Ian Youngs
Arts reporter, BBC News

image captionMaxine Peake is known for her roles in TV shows including Silk, Shameless and Criminal Justice

Actors Maxine Peake and Willem Dafoe and artist Tracey Emin have been named on the line-up for this year's Manchester International Festival.

They will join Sir Kenneth Branagh, Massive Attack and The xx, who had already been announced for the event.

The festival, which takes place in July, specialises in staging new work and one-off events from across the worlds of music, theatre and art.

The venues will include a derelict railway station and a disused chapel.

The newly-announced events include:

  • Maxine Peake will star in a new version of Percy Bysshe Shelley's political poem The Masque of Anarchy, written about the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, to be staged in a former chapel next to the site of the massacre.
  • Provocative Italian director Romeo Castellucci will reinterpret Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring with a 100-piece orchestra in the derelict Mayfield railway depot to mark the dance work's centenary.
  • Willem Dafoe and Russian dancer and actor Mikhail Baryshnikov will appear in avant-garde theatre director Robert Wilson's new production of the play The Old Woman.
  • Artists Tracey Emin, John Baldessari and Sarah Lucas will take part in the exhibition do it 20 13 at Manchester Art Gallery, based around artists and visitors carrying out written instructions from other artists.
  • Donmar Warehouse artistic director Josie Rourke will direct The Machine, a new play about chess player Garry Kasparov's battle with the supercomputer Deep Blue, written by Matt Charman.
  • Argentine pianist Martha Argerich, Sufi singer Abida Parveen, atmospheric electronic duo Goldfrapp and LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy are among the musicians due to appear.

Sir Kenneth will appear in his first Shakespeare play for more than a decade with his debut performance as Macbeth. That will take place in a deconsecrated church.

He said the festival had "a hell of a programme, so we are very proud to be part of that".

Recalling the last time he performed Shakespeare in the city, he said: "I've never forgotten it and I've always wanted to come back.

"That was 25 years ago and along that time, the one play by Shakespeare that follows me everywhere is the Scottish play. Of all the plays, it's the one that sits in the loo and has travelled with me all over the place and that I've talked and thought about, and I've always circled around it.

"Over all of those years, there was something happening to me as an artist that wanted to come and meet that play and that role at some point, if I was lucky enough to have the opportunity."

Tickets for the intimate production have already sold out, but the closing night on 20 July will be relayed to 5,000 people via a big screen in the city centre.

Speaking about her play, Maxine Peake said the story of the Peterloo Massacre in 1819, in which 15 protesters demanding parliamentary reform died when they were charged down by cavalry, was "more relevant than ever, especially where we are politically".

"This was about people coming to protest for a voice, for a vote," she said. "This was the beginning of radical Manchester.

"And where are we now? People are struggling to get by and are getting marginalised and ignored because they're poor, because they're different."

Festival director Alex Poots said a number of the works focused on the current social and political climate.

He said: "Probably because we're living through unprecedentedly troubled times, there are a number of artists making work who are responding to questions around power, the individual, coexistence, compassion. We've not had that before.

"Another theme in the festival is people discovering places they've never been. Massive Attack and The Rite of Spring will be in the Mayfield depot, which has been closed to public access for over 50 years. It's an amazing, huge, cavernous space right next to Piccadilly station."

This is the fourth edition of the festival, which takes place every two years.

More on this story

  • Massive Attack plan live 'dream' at Manchester festival