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Underwater opera at Queer Up North

Why this gay arts festival is famous for more than just being queer, and win tickets to the closing night cabaret in the spiegeltent

Published on May 13th 2009.

Underwater opera at Queer Up North
Miss Behave

If you're gay, you'll probably already be familiar with Queer Up North. It's a two week arts festival that brings a whole load of theatre, performances, debates and celebrations to Manchester each year.

If you're not gay, you might be tempted to dismiss it as 'not for you'. But if you're into theatre, cabaret, music, film or comedy, you might want to reconsider. For years now Queer Up North has been commissioning and premiering plays and performances that go on to become national, if not global, successes. In 2008 Queer Up North-commissioned work could be seen in over 30 cities, from New York and Sydney to Zagreb, Warsaw, and Paris. And they all started here in Manchester.

This year's programme, which runs from 12 to 25 May, looks equally noteworthy with underwater opera, an old-style spiegeltent, and performances from some of the world's finest cabaret acts.

There will be the world premiere of My Stories, Your Emails by cult cabaret artist Ursula Martinez. She used to be best known for getting her kit off on stage, and even on one occasion, getting her parents to do the same. This particular show is about 'looking at yourself under a microscope and being judged from afar' and it combines stand-up, live art, character comedy and spoken word. It's on at the Library Theatre until 16 May.

Taylor Mac

Taylor Mac is a renowned performer from New York who also mixes up art forms to create shows that are spectacular and provocative – much like the costumes he designs for himself (see picture below). He's be performing the UK debut of his new work The Young Ladies Of at the Library Theatre until 16 May. It's already had two sold-out runs off-Broadway, and the New York Times described it as a show of 'such brash originality that it dazzles'.

Another world premiere comes from Juliana Snapper, a soprano from Los Angeles who has perfected a technique in 'mouth to water singing' which basically means she'll be warbling under water. We're intrigued. Particularly as her performance takes place in Victoria Baths; a very atmospheric setting for an apocalyptic opera about a flooded world where humans have died out.

Submerged cameras will film Snapper, and there'll be a choir in the old dressing stalls surrounding the pool. Composer Andrew Infanti's music will merge with the singing and animated sequences. It takes place at Victoria Baths on 17 May.

Over the Bank Holiday weekend (22 to 25 May), the Spiegeltent arrives at Spinningfields. A Speigeltent, for the uninitiated, is an old-fashioned travelling tent that's used as a venue for theatre or dances. Inside, you'll find a 'palace of decadent pleasure, assembled from thousands of pieces of shimmering glass, sumptuous fabric, polished wood and stretched canvas.'


There'll be performances and debates in there all weekend, culminating in the festival's closing show: Miss Behave's Finale Night on 25 May. Burlesque aerialist Empress Stah, Ursula Martinez, and Marcella Puppini (founder of band The Puppini Sisters) join Miss Behave, the last surviving female sword-swallower.

To find out more about Queer Up North events and to book tickets, go to www.queerupnorth.com

This competition has now closed. Congratulations to our winner Andy York.

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Thank you for your interest, but this competition closed to further entries on November 11th 2009.

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