The atmospheric Grade-II listed Spanish and Portuguese synagogue has always been the stunning centrepiece of Manchester Jewish Museum, and this autumn it’ll been shown off spectacularly by a season of intimate evening performances.

Synagogue Nights signals a new approach from the museum about how to make the most of the Jewish place of worship at its heart, which was fully restored to its original decorative scheme as part of the £6 million redevelopment of the museum complex, and refitted with sound and AV systems to make a dynamic cultural calendar possible. The idea is that the space will become “a playground for artists to try out radical ideas”, and the inaugural season certainly sets the bar high in that regard.

While these Thursday night events are united in their celebration of diverse Jewish experiences, they utilise everything from knitting to animation, pantomime and song to tell their stories. Starting on October 14 and running until December 2, Synagogue Nights kicked things off with the much talked about show from the Tsitsit festival – the nationwide Jewish Fringe Festival – She Seeks Out Wool from Sophie Ablett and Klein Blue, a spoken word and large-scale knitting performance that literally weaves a tale of family and loss.

Ana Silvera’s night of Ladino Laments and Love Songs on October 28 promises to be a moving one as she explores her Sephardi heritage and the story of her family’s journey to Manchester to help found the very synagogue she’ll be singing in. Along with her stage performance, Ana will also host an interactive Ladino Music workshop for families on Wed 27 Oct, inspired by Debbie Levy’s book ‘The Key From Spain’.

Cartoonist and songwriter Carol Isaacs, aka The Surreal McCoy, brings her graphic memoir to life through animation and a score recorded by 3yin in The Wolf of Baghdad on November 4, while Suzette Coon celebrates a pioneering woman in her play A Jewish Love Story on November 11.

Hebrew jazz meets world sounds as Noga Ritter Trio perform their debut show in Manchester on November 25, and Yanki & Der Beanstalk round off the season on December 2 with a work-in-progress panto, performed with script but also with the promise of a Yiddish version of Queen and David Bowie’s Under Pressure and a chance to chat with the cast and crew afterwards.

A one-off Sunday show, on October 24, also sees former Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra members Klezmer-ish playing their pandemic inspired Lockdown Songbook and their new album Dusty Road.

A Manchester Wire Partnership post
Thu 14 Oct - Thu 2 Dec, Manchester Jewish Museum,
190 Cheetham Hill Rd, Cheetham Hill, Manchester M8 8LW
Sarah Walters
Published on:
Tue 12 Oct 2021