“Can the peoples of Europe rise to the heights of the soul and of the instinct and spirit of man?” – Winston Churchill

Manchester International Festival today announces that actors Christopher Eccleston, and Adjoa Andoh and writer Lemn Sissay will perform alongside writer Michael Morpurgo and actor Juliet Stevenson in Ivo van Hove’s Re:Creating Europe, which is being presented for one night only at The Lowry theatre on Friday 12 July.

In a year when a deeply divided Britain looks set to leave the European Union, this production uses video footage and the words of artists, thinkers and political leaders– from Shakespeare to Victor Hugo, Kamel Daoud to Theresa May, Boris Johnson to Winston Churchill – to evoke the very notion of Europe, challenging audiences to think about what Europe is and what its future could be.

The production, which is an exploration of Europe through the literature and political speeches that have defined its history, will open with Michael Morpurgo reading Phoenix of Peace, a new text by the author that has been specially commissioned for the Manchester performance.

Directed by prolific theatre director Ivo van Hove and in partnership with De Balie, a leading venue for cutting-edge debates and art projects in the Netherlands, Re:Creating Europe will be performed at Manchester International Festival by Adjoa Andoh, Christopher Eccleston, Michael Morpurgo, Lemn Sissay, Juliet Stevenson, and members of van Hove’s Internationaal Theater Amsterdam ensemble. Re:Creating Europe plays for one night only during a run of van Hove’s acclaimed adaptation of Ayn Rand’s controversial novel The Fountainhead.

Adjoa Andoh said: “I am looking forward to being a part of Ivo van Hove’s Re:Creating Europe. As the granddaughter of a Yorkshire merchant seaman who served throughout WW2 and the great niece of a Ghanaian serviceman who sacrificed his arm for King and country during that same war, I feel the benefit of the great European project personally.”

Lemn Sissay said: “I am delighted to be taking part in the UK premiere of Re:Creating Europe here in Manchester this week. In this period of flux, amidst current debates surrounding the European Union, it is vital for us to have performances such as this which make us reflect upon the origins of the EU, it’s future and ultimately, what it means today to be European.”

Michael Morpurgo said: “I have lived my life in the shadow and aftermath of great European wars, and in the hope and expectation of a new Europe that was rising out of the ashes of war and suffering. I belong to a family of nations learning to work together, trade together, to be together, a family determined to turn swords into ploughshares, suspicion and hate into understanding and goodwill. To come to Manchester International Festival and be part of Re:Creating Europe means a great deal to me, as a Belgian, as an Englishman, as a European.”

Juliet Stevenson, said: “I am so thrilled to be involved in Re:Creating Europe. I am a massive fan of Ivo van Hove’s work so am very excited to be working with him on this. And as we all continue to grapple in different ways with our relationship to Europe & with our identity as Europeans, this reflective piece exploring our historical roots and connections to the Continent seems apt, timely and needed.”

Re:Creating Europe is produced by Manchester International Festival, De Balie and Internationaal Theater Amsterdam. MIF19 runs from 4–21 July 2019 and features artists from across the globe premiering a variety of new work in spaces throughout the city. For more details about this year’s programme, please visit mif.co.uk.

Images can be downloaded from press.mif.co.uk/mif19