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Curating Flare

Mackenzie, NK (2012) Curating Flare. Arts Council England, Manchester Metropolitan UniversityManchester, UK.

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Abstract

Curating Flare is a Practice as Research project concerned with the curation of new theatre at ‘emergent’ and ‘post-emergent’ levels, specifically within the Flare International Festival of New Theatre (2011) and the Flare Weekender (2012), in Manchester. Drawing on twenty years of curation experience, mostly at MMU’s Axis Arts Centre, and working in dialogue with curators and influential figures in Germany, Spain, Holland, Belgium, Croatia, Bosnia and Ireland, Curating Flare centres around identifying, presenting and nurturing new theatrical practice, practice that can be seen to interrogate theatrical experience and reassess its relationship to context. Focusing on performance that is predicated on the live presence of its audience, often invoking the ‘conceptual’ in performance and exemplifying Bert O States assertion that in theatre both ‘everything is something else’ and ‘everything is nothing but itself’, the practices profiled have also demonstrated developed agendas relating to audience reception, shared physical experience, the process of signification and the re-contextualisation of dance and music performance modalities within theatre. As a curatorial practice ultimately purporting to identify the leading edge of international contemporary theatre by new theatre artists, and to do this largely at post-graduate level alongside critical fora like Flare’s Artist Forum and Future of Theatre Panel Discussion, Flare occupies a unique position in the country, and the wider international context. In addition, its focus on specifically theatrical, new, international performance, marks it out from other festivals in the UK such as Spill, Fierce, Inbetween Time and Wunderbar. The Flare International Festival of New Theatre has developed a national and international reputation, scheduled as it is to coincide with the Manchester International Festival, and is currently viewed by Arts Council England (a key funder) as one of the four leading producers of radical performance in the North West of England (alongside the Axis Arts Centre).

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