We were shocked when Contact Theatre (or just Contact, as it prefers to be known) announced it was celebrating its fiftieth birthday in summer 2022. Maybe it’s the out-there architecture or maybe it’s the youth-focussed programming, but we could have sworn it’s not a day older than 25.
This performing arts theatre might have passed its first half century but it still looks and feels as fresh as ever. Shows staged here range from experimental theatre to comedy to dance to spoken word. What unites them all is that they’re aimed at – and often created by – young people, with a particular focus on local communities and minority groups.
Contact runs various free workshops and courses for aspiring young artists, and 50% of its decision-making board are under the age of 30. As of 2022, it has its youngest-ever Artistic Director and CEO, Keisha Thompson. She’s also the first black, first female, first poet and first Mancunian to take on the role.
As she told Confidentials when she got the job, “I just want this achievement to stand as a symbol so that so many other young people in the city can feel represented and included.”
It’s what Contact has been doing so well for 50 years. Here’s to 50 more.