Revamped Wigan Pier to open for first time for special international show

Under-renovation Wigan Pier is set to open its doors for three nights only for a special show featuring music and dancing from Zimbabwe.

By Gaynor Clarke
Sunday, 24th April 2022, 4:55 am

The historic buildings have been shut for 15 years but are currently being refurbished to provide a food hall, events venue and cultural education spaces.

Visitors will be allowed into the site for the first time next month for an international show.

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Work on ongoing to transform Wigan Pier

The Collaborative Touring Network (CTN) has formed a partnership with Zimbabwean artist John Pfumojena for a show entitled Bunker of Zion, which will premiere at Wigan Pier on Thursday, May 26, followed by a national tour this summer.

CTN – a national collective of grassroots organisations led by The Old Courts in Wigan – will work with John and an ensemble of international performers and musicians to develop a live performance that draws on multi-disciplinary art forms.

The show will feature music created using traditional Zimbabwe mbira and marimba instruments, with the audience told to expect joyful, bouncing rhythms and powerful songs.

There will also be traditional and modern Zimbabwean dancing, with break dance and gumboot dance – a traditional South African dance performed in wellington boots, also referred to as gumboots.

John Pfumojena

John said: “This collaboration really does what it says on the tin. Co-creating a show with the partners in the network, aided by an associate artist in each location, devised with community members.

"The Zimbabwe mbira and marimba instruments are the bedrock for this creative work, and we are asking every single person to come as they are and interact with their authentic selves. Zimbabwean Bantu Shona culture meets with myriad genres in dance, music, movement, spoken word and storytelling.

"Culture shaking hands. I’m truly excited to be leading this work in an opportunity provided by the Collaborative Touring Network. Surely this is how collaboration should work across the country and the world.”

Wigan-based charitable organisation Everything Human Rights' project coordinator Farai Nhakaniso will work with fellow borough-based artists and community members to develop their own creative response to John’s work.

Farai Nhakaniso

Through workshops and community events in April and May, they will explore themes of diversity and togetherness, using dance, music, movement, spoken word and storytelling.

Coincidentally, John and Farai went to the same school in Zimbabwe.

Farai said: “We are very excited to be partnering with John Pfumojena as the local associate artist for Wigan, as part of this Collaborative Touring Network project.

"This project, which will be drawing from Bantu/African multidisciplinary art forms, is giving Everything Human Rights' Kubatana Dance Group and other locally-based artists the opportunity to create something special for our borough together.

"This is going to be something not to be missed.”

Bunker of Zion is an hour-long show, set in a dystopia where music, culture and history are banned. A small community creates a safe space in an underground bunker to continue enjoying music.

The Bunker of Zion will be held at Wigan Pier from May 26 to 28, with tickets now on sale from The Old Courts