LOOK CLOSER: a micro-festival of new live performances and films celebrating the things that connect us as humans





Thursday 29 November – Saturday 1 December

(Individual shows £12 – FREE, £45 Festival Pass, £30 Students & Under 25s)

LOOK CLOSER Festival Guide  


This November, as Square Chapel Arts Centre turns 30 years old, the award-winning multi-artform venue in the heart of Halifax invites the public to LOOK CLOSER, a micro-festival that celebrates ‘the things that connect us as humans’.


LOOK CLOSER is a micro-festival of new work and cross-artform practice that does away with conventions, and reimagines the spaces and platforms for how people talk about the world around them. Featuring gig-theatre, contemporary performance, exhibitions, installations, one-to-one interactive experiences, panel discussions and film, Square Chapel Arts Centre is delighted to invite the public to celebrate the extra in the ordinary and to look closer at the people you meet and the stories that make us human – complete with a familiar playlist, a touch of astrophysics and a dance marathon.


The programme pairs local and emerging artists with world-class, internationally-acclaimed performance companies including Paines Plough, ZU-UK, Quarantine and Third Angel; and will feature a range of both free and ticketed events popping up around Square Chapel’s stunning new building, at times and places you wouldn’t necessarily expect.


The festival has been created thanks to a series of successful projects that have seen the ambitious venue break out of its conventional performance spaces. Projects such as their 2016 Other Rooms venture when the arts centre’s original building was closed due to an exciting capital build, leaving them inspired to keep on creating work for the community so they used other spaces around the town to showcase plays and films bringing them to life with immersive events. These included screening The Shining in a hotel, The Blair Witch Project in the middle of the woods and the popular boxing film, Rocky in a local boxing ring.


Other similar projects included Plays in Pubs (2016), Landed (2017) and the immersive production of The Great Gatsby (2018) that transformed the entire venue into Gatsby’s lavish home hosting the famous party but this time for all the audience to join in with.


Live Performance

Paines Plough will be opening the festival on Thursday 29 November with their latest gig-theatre offering POP MUSIC: an emotionally contagious rollercoaster and a night at the theatre like no other. POP MUSIC will have integrated British Sign Language (BSL) performed by a deaf actor performing in the show (Ciaran Stewart) and on-screen captioning.


Internationally acclaimed theatre company Quarantine, who are celebrating their own big birthday of 20 years this month, bring Wallflower to LOOK CLOSER on Friday 30 November (90-minute performance) and Saturday 1 December (5-hour durational performance). Wallflower is a dance marathon where the people on stage are trying to remember every dance they’ve ever danced. Spanning a lifetime of music, fashion, politics, friendships, parties, love and loss, it’s a show about how dancing can shape our lives. Halifax’s own remembered dances, collected from local individuals and community groups, will be featured in a physical and digital exhibition alongside the show and will highlight the vast and varied relationships we each have with the idea of ‘dance’. These can be found at wallflowerdances.com


Somewhere between stand-up and an astrophysics lecture, on Saturday 1 December, Third Angel presents 600 People; a simple show about huge ideas: the story of how a three-hour conversation with an astrophysicist changed the way Alex understands how the Universe works.



A striking and moving documentary from BAFTA nominated directors Jacqui and David Morris, Nuruyev: All The World His Stage traces the extraordinary life of Rudolf Nureyev, the most famous male dancer that transcended fame in the dance world to become a pop culture icon of his time.

It charts his rise from humble beginnings, to his eventual defection to the West, an event that shocked the world. Blending never-before-seen footage, an original score by award-winning composer Alex Baranowski, and a spellbinding series of exclusive modern dance tableaux directed by Royal Ballet alumnus Russell Maliphant, Nureyev is a theatrical and cinematic experience like no other biopic. Screenings on Friday, Saturday and Sunday over the weekend of the festival.






Interactive Experiences

On Friday 30 November, audiences are invited to #BeTheDate with ZU-UK’s Binaural Dinner Date, following its sold-out London performances and recommended by Evening Standard and Alix Fox (Guardian Close Encounters and BBC Radio 1). Part interactive performance, part dating agency, Binaural Dinner Date is ideal for individuals looking for love, or existing couples who simply want a very different dating experience.


For an alternative kind of intimate experience, on Saturday 1 December, local artist Hannah Sullivan invites participants to join her at a desk specially made for two people to draw each other in Draw to Look. Using a simple drawing exercise, that requires no previous experience, dispelling skill or technique, Hannah creates an occasion to notice the looking that drawing allows and the difference it makes. “Sullivan’s piece is infinitely delicate. It is a snatched moment, a secret shared between you for fifteen minutes. It offers an opportunity to examine, and to focus on nothing but this little bubble of calm.” – Exeunt.



In THESE ARE ALL THE WAYS MY HEART CAN SPEAK, audiences will be able to explore a world of poetry, photography and type writing by local artist Kate Radford, with rolling performances of her vocal and loop pedal work, visual works for sale and an opportunity to type their own messages of love and rage to take home. The installation runs throughout the festival and live performance times can be found online.


Wait, There’s More!

For emerging artists, key members of the Square Chapel team will be offering one-to-one Artist Surgeries on Thursday 29 November for expert advice on fundraising, tour-booking, marketing, audience development, finances and production management.


Following the performance of 600 People on Saturday 1 December, a Panel Discussion will open up discussion around cross-artform and cross-sector practice, active spectatorship and the spaces and platforms for how we talk about the world around us; with leading industry practitioners and academics from across the north including Richard Gregory (Quarantine), Dr. Alex Kelly (Third Angel) and Joanne Wain / David Wheeler (IOU Theatre).


Performance students from Calderdale College will be taking inspiration from the concept behind Quarantine’s Wallflower, using rules and game-playing as a tool for devising and improvisation, to present an informal performance that reflects the themes of the festival in Square Chapel’s Copper auditorium, at 7pm before the performance of Wallflower on Friday 30 November.


For those still going, audiences & artists are invited to celebrate the closing night of the festival at the Wallflower After Party on Saturday 1 December, where they will dance their own remembered dances to a playlist of dedicated tracks, in the atmospheric Square Chapel bar.


Ali Ford, Programmer & Producer of LOOK CLOSER at Square Chapel said:


“LOOK CLOSER is a festival that very much reflects our vision and ethos here at Square Chapel, which is all about people, ideas, creativity, connectivity, expression, conversation and stories – and the magic that happens when you bring those things together. It’s about shaking up the conventions of how and where art and culture can happen – and who gets to be part of making it – and presenting audiences, participants and passers-by with shared experiences that might just make them look at the world a little more closely.”


Join Square Chapel for the Launch of LOOK CLOSER on Thursday 29 November at 6pm, where guests will be able to enjoy a glass of fizz, hear all about the full line-up and meet some of the artists and participants who will feature over the weekend.


LOOK CLOSER is made possible by the support of key funding partners Arts Council England, Calderdale MBC and the Community Foundation for Calderdale.



For more information, images, press interviews and press tickets please contact Sofia Cann, Marketing and Communications Manager, Tel 01422 353073 Mob sofia@squarechapel.co.uk


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