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Photos © Andrew Brooks / Manchester International Festival

Arcadia, 2021

Commissioned by Manchester International Festival and Stanford Live at Stanford University. Produced by Manchester International Festival.
The Factory International, Manchester

Live Performances: 10/11 July 2021

Creative Team

Conceived & Created by Deborah Warner

Composer & Sound Designer - Mel Mercier 
Designer - Justin Nardella 
Lighting Designer - Mike Gunning 
Field recordings - Chris Watson


Shamim Afshan, Isaac Ahmed, Jade Anouka, Alun Armstrong, Ibrahim Bangura, Simon Russell Beale, Tom Burke, Liam Caine, Neneh Caine, Brian Cox, Ayesha Dharker, Clare Dunne, Ioan Gruffudd, Jane Horrocks, Sara Kestelman, Barly Koyangbwa, Raphael Leyland, Lioness, Pauline Lynch, Sabrina Mahfouz, Tandrima Mazumdar, Jila Mozoun, Lucian Msamati, Nemzzz, Patrick O’Kane, Iarla Ó Lionáird, Jonathan Pryce, Esmay Riley, RoxXxan, Mariatu Sesay, Fiona Shaw, Suzy Squires, David Thewlis

The first event at MIF’s future year-round home saw director Deborah Warner bring the natural world into the heart of the city

Factory International is currently rising from the former home of Granada Studios, a new landmark for the arts and for our city. It’s due for completion in 2023 – but its immense open spaces, currently under construction, were reimagined for two nights during MIF21 as a space for peaceful contemplation.

Arcadia was somewhere to pause – for a moment, perhaps for longer. To come in from the city and be surprised by nature. And to connect with a rich soundtrack of poetry: from Sappho to Simon Armitage and from John Clare to Sabrina Mahfouz, all of it inspired by the natural world.

With recorded contributions from Simon Russell Beale, RoxXxan, Jane Horrocks, Brian Cox, Lioness, David Thewlis and many others, this beautiful installation invited us to consider the relationship between the urban and the rural, the town and the country, the natural and the manufactured – and to reflect on our own personal connections with them all.

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