Utopolis for MIF
MIF19 – Utopolis Manchester
What builds a utopian society – an idealistic world for its inhabitants? Education perhaps? Or religion, government, justice? Thomas More considered this in his 1516 novel Utopia; a consideration revitalised through Manchester International Festival’s commissioning of Rimini Protokoll’s Utopolis Manchester.
A small group of strangers meet at a secret location. We know there are others, but not their locations or numbers. A hexagonal sound box is our guide as we set off across the city to who knows where. On the way we meet other groups, each with their own instructions…do we combine or stay unique? Over the next few hours we visit key locations, each potential pillars to support our future world, our numbers swelling on the journey. The growing number of Utopolis hexagons synchronise to project surround-sound conversations from the past and views from the present. There are opportunities for us to put forward our thoughts, both verbally and via text. Can we work together to create that desirable world?
At over 4 hours, this is a long, but fascinating, evening. Wandering the (thankfully dry) streets of Manchester’s city centre, accompanied by music, birdsong and ethereal voices caused a few stares and questioning looks. There is an excitement for the unknown, a nervousness of socialising with strangers, and a stifled yawn at the occasional overlong moment. However, Utopolis Manchester is a unique, technically ground-breaking, multi-media experience that forces you to think about the past, present and how we can impact what’s ahead for ourselves and future generations. A utopian dream or dystopian nightmare? Only you can decide…
Garry Thomas-Lowde for Canal St Online.
City Centre: July 10th-13th 2019