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Everything you need to know about Up Next Festival, happening this month at Unity Theatre

2 years ago

Liverpool is one of the most creative cities and – better still – one of the most supportive when it comes to encouraging new talent.

The Unity Theatre’s Open Call programme funds around 22 Liverpool-based artists each year, giving them the chance to reveal their work or develop ideas. 

And Up Next Festival is where they show it to us, in a three-day celebration showcasing exciting new work from some of these amazing Merseyside performers.

Unity Theatre

“In the first Up Next Festival weekender in September, we were looking at the audience’s response and so many comments were about how nice it was to be able to see someone on stage whose story they could relate to,” says Rachael Welsh, business development manager for the Unity. 

“Giving Liverpool artists a chance to tell a broad, diverse range of stories means everyone is finding a bit of themselves in them. That’s been lovely to see, and it’s brilliant to see these artists have the chance to perform and get the audience support.”

What is Up Next Festival and when is it on?

Unity Theatre

Up Next Festival is the chance to see six new scripts performed on the Unity stage between Thursday, October 13 and Saturday, October 15. Opening the festival is Paul Betney, a performer and comedian who has Parkinson’s Disease and, in Old Dog: New Tricks, Paul talks about his journey out of the turmoil of growing up in a dysfunctional family. It’s a warm and funny story about healing and finding the joy.

Is it just about performances?

Unity Theatre

Not at all, says Rachael: “For the first time this year we have got a partnership with Queensway, who are an amazing DJ Collective based in Liverpool and they will be playing between shows.”

There will also be Q&As after each show with subjects ranging from digital work, to coping with a condition like Parkinson’s as a performer, to getting that first script on stage.

And also new this year is an exhibition in the bar which is from the Here and Queer Collective. “They are basically reclaiming sites of hate crimes and taking photos of the victims of those hate crimes in the spaces where it happened to them but making it a beautiful, dynamic kind of place. So they are showing that hate doesn’t win.”

There’s also drinks with loads of great offers in the bar with the likes of Neptune Brewery from Maghull ‘so it’s a real local festival supporting local talent’.

How much does it cost?

Unity Theatre

You can book for each show individually for just £8 or buy a three-day limited-edition Festival Pass for just £25, giving you access to all the events throughout the weekend.

“These artists really want feedback on their work, and the more people who come, the better.  The festival pass is something we have brought in this year so as many people as possible can come in and see the different shows.”

Find out more about Up Next Festival on the Unity Theatre website here.


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