Canal boat production will sail into Wigan to wow audiences during light night festival

An arts organisation is preparing to sail into Wigan with its latest production as part of a light night extravaganza.

A light festival will take place on Friday, November 18 and Saturday, November 19, with a trail of artworks and performances along the canal leading to Wigan Pier.

It will feature Opal’s Comet, a canal-based production involving visual theatre and song from arts-producing organisation Mr Wilson’s.

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Drawing on creation myths and oral storytelling tradition, Opal’s Comet is a tragic, short story, written in allegorical form in 2021 in response to recent global and personal events.

Opal's Comet will be performed on the canal from a barge
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It questions how people might navigate personal grief, loss and transformation as the world veers towards social collapse and climate crisis.

The show is performed from a canal boat which has been touring along the UK’s inland waterways since late August, including visits to Burnley Canal Festival, Littleborough Arts Festival and HOME MCR as part of Manchester Folk Festival.

Mr Wilson’s artist director Sonya “Boo” Moorhead, who conceived and wrote the project, said: “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.”

The Opal’s Comet tour aims to present an epic and hopeful story within the local landscape.

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.

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James Long, of the Canal and River Trust, said: “Canal and River Trust are pleased to be supporting Opal’s Comet as they tour the waterways of the North West and we hope that our canals will provide a unique backdrop for their performances. We believe that spending time by the water makes people healthier and happier. Events like this give people opportunities to experience our canals in new ways and encourage people to visit for the first time.”