You may be familiar with the likes of The Lowry, Contact and Palace Theatre as the hubs of drama-filled performances in the city, but what about a show on the canal? Well, Opal’s Comet, a canal-based visual theatre and song project by arts-producing organisation Mr Wilson’s will be drifting along the Manchester waterways this weekend.
The canal-based production Opal’s Comet, conceived and written by Sonya ‘Boo’ Moorhead, is a journeying song cycle, touring along the UK’s inland waterways and is performed from a canal boat. This Autumn, Opal’s Comet will partake in an outdoor performance tour of the North of the UK, having begun its journey at Burnley Canal Festival (28-29 August) and now onto HOME MCR as part of Manchester Folk Festival on October 14-15, and culminating in an appearance at Wigan Light Night on November 18-19 . All performances are free to the public.
Drawing on creation myths and oral storytelling tradition, Opal’s Comet is a tragic, short story written by the Burnley-based arts-producing organisation’s Artistic Director Sonya ‘Boo’ Moorhead. In response to recent global and personal events the story was written in 2021 and takes an allegorical form.
It questions how we might navigate personal grief, loss and transformation as, globally, we veer towards social collapse and climate crisis. Opal’s Comet offers audiences and participants the opportunity to slow down and take stock, to celebrate shared values; pay homage to those we’ve lost and discuss how we might navigate a new future.
Sonya ‘Boo’ Moorhead says: “In 2020 and 2021 our families and communities experienced so much sadness and loss. Mr Wilson’s is known for colourful, musical celebrations but not everyone is ready to jump back into that. This year we have created something exceptionally beautiful and hopeful; Opal’s Comet meets people on their own terms, in their own neighbourhood and offers time and space to reflect.”
Artists Steve Gumbley and Andy Plant were commissioned to visualise and create a sculptural response to the Golden Barge, which will be transported along the canal for each performance. The collective of musicians who will perform the Opal’s Comet song cycle for Mr Wilson’s are: Sonya ‘Boo’ Moorhead as singer songwriter and director, John Ellis on piano and Sarah Dale on cello. Rachael Gladwin on harp is also joining the line-up for the Burnley and Manchester performances.
Opal’s Comet will be on the Rochdale canal, travelling between Piccadilly Basin and Lock 92 on both performance days between 11-4pm. The performance is durational and can be experienced at any point during that window. There is a live GPS location tracker on board. If you follow the link on the project website page on the day, it will direct you to a map, where you can see the exact location of the golden barge and help you navigate finding it.