Theatre in 2021: HOME's Push Festival Lineup Announced...

It's going virtual!

By Manchester's Finest | 29 January 2021

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Six brand new commissions and a first-ever experimental video game at on the lineup for this year’s Push Festival at HOME.

The annual celebration of North West’s creative talents will go ahead this year with both live and digital work as theatres and arts venues remain closed.

This year saw a change to the commission process which took into account the additional pressures of the pandemic. Those shortlisted were given financial and administrative support and the independent panel of artists were paid to chose the final works.

The works this year will encompass a vast range of styles, experiences and perspectives on the world in which we live. 

Jenni McCusker, Head of Talent Development at HOME, said: “Our Push commissioned artists for 2021 are so exciting and look set to take audiences on a journey of re-looking and re-examining the world around through a variety of performance styles. We are so excited to be working with them to bring their projects to life and can’t wait to see how they develop. 

“During the pandemic with countless lockdowns and restrictions the freelance artistic community has been devastated so we continue our commitment to support artists at all levels and make as many opportunities available as we can for artists to make and present work in these very challenging times.”

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The strand will begin with an online computer game created by Manchester indie games studio, Passenger formed by artist and activist Dan Hett, Closed Hands.

The game examines the lead-up and aftermath of a terror attack on a fictional city following five core characters and dozens of other lives brought together by the same event.

Closed Hands is the first work from the studio exploring Dan’s personal experience of losing his brother Martyn Hett in the Manchester terror attack.

Dan said: “We’re really excited to present Closed Hands to new audiences, and we really hope that it helps push forward the idea that games should, and can, boldly hold up a mirror to our reality in new and interesting ways. The story is deep and complex, and presented in a way that we hope can be explored by both games audiences and those outside it, too.”

Push Festival 2021:

The White Ship
Graeme Arnefield
The film is a collaborative historical re-enactment of the 1112AD ‘White Ship Disaster’ from the perspective of the Hastings townspeople. Graeme is an artist-filmmaker & curator using methods of investigative storytelling to explore issues of circulation, spectatorship and history.


Candy Floss
Emmanuel Bajiji 
A charming storytelling piece of one man’s journey as he reflects on life in Oldham, his new town, in a new country, on a new continent. The storyteller has worked with the likes of Community Arts Northwest, Oldham Theatre, Z Arts, Action Factory and HOME.


Jenni Jackson
Creating work that interrogates the female body in performance, her relationship with the UK and the duality of living between races and cultures. Endurance explores how we can observe. woman wilfully push herself to the limit, how complicit the audience is with that experience, and how this destruction of the female body echoes through time.


Katherine Hollinson 
Through the lens of a sisterly relationship, Katherine has created digital work with her sister Gemma looking at Gemma’s life living with disabilities. Performer, maker and teacher from Manchester, Katherine regularly challenges the notions of who can and can’t dance and has worked with choreographers including Simone Forti, Lucy Hind, Dan Watson and Liz Aggiss.


Superhero Alert Ego
Holly Rush
rained in contemporary dance at Trinity Laban, Holly fuses elements of dance, physical theatre, performance art, poetry, Commedia dell’arte and clowning. Superhero Alert Ego takes social media and digital comic books satirises superhero archetypes to create a surreal, escapist narrative.


If I could name you myself (I would hold you forever)
Hope Strickland and Jessica El Mal
A visual anthropologist from Manchester, Hope engaged with the notions of Black resistance and feminist ecologies through the lens of trauma, memory and the visual conceit of the cotton flower in If I could name you myself (I would hold you forever). Jessica often centres her work around collaboration, co-curation and collective knowledge systems.