The SICK! Festival that confronts physical, mental and social challenges in life and in death through performance, film, debates and workshops, is in Manchester. From 2 to 25 March, the festival that also takes place in Brighton, sheds light on urgent issues that often remain taboo and misunderstood – those issues that are brushed under the carpet; the ‘strictly forbidden at the dinner table’ type of topics .
Simply put, SICK! aims to tackle the trouble of difficult conversation by getting everyone to join in the conversation. Having launched in Brighton in 2013, the festival has brought its shows to Manchester for the first time this March. This year there is a focus on sex and sexuality, abuse and suicide.
Amid a sensitive climate inflamed by topics like rape, domestic abuse, suicide, pornography and stigmatised mental health, director of development at SICK! said, “We were frustrated with contemporary art. We wanted to present work that reflected the real issues of our own lives and the lives of the people around us, bridging the gap between art and life and more specifically, art and health”.
On why the festival chose to expand into Manchester, Harrison explained, “Manchester is a great city. It has a long history of amazing, socially engaged arts practice – the perfect place for SICK!”
SICK! Festival has expertise and resources of many different partner organisations including art venues, academic institutions, charities and community groups. The Arts Council, University of Manchester, Lottery Fund and Manchester City Council are just a few of the aforementioned groups.
With critically acclaimed shows like The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland at The Lowry; Yaël Farber’s harrowing piece Nirbhaya at Contact Theatre; Irish shocker Lippy moving from London’s Young Vic to The Lowry; and Itai Erdal’s lighting masterpiece How to Disappear Completely arriving from Canada, Manchester’s challenging festival has already warned that some of their shows aren’t for the faint-hearted but are surely available for those that need them.
Whatever your view is on the topics, if the festival gets people talking; well, that is half the fight won.