Philip Glass and Phelim McDermott’s Unique Collaboration Tao Of Glass Travels to Australia Following Success at MI19 | The Fan Carpet Ltd • The Fan Carpet: The RED Carpet for FANS • The Fan Carpet: Fansites Network • The Fan Carpet: Slate • The Fan Carpet: Theatre Spotlight • The Fan Carpet: Arena • The Fan Carpet: International

Philip Glass and Phelim McDermott’s Unique Collaboration Tao Of Glass Travels to Australia Following Success at MI19

01 November 2019


Following its world premiere at Manchester International Festival (MIF) this summer, the critically acclaimed Tao of Glass will travel to Perth Festival, Australia in February 2020.

Created by world renowned composer PhiIip Glass and Obie and Olivier-Award winning performer-director Phelim McDermott, this exploration of life, loss and inspiration opened at Manchester International Festival to a raft of five-star reviews and plaudits from critics and the general public alike.

“A truly magical journey” Whatsonstage – 5 stars

“A golden odyssey through Philip Glass’s music” The Guardian – 5 Stars

“Marvellously entertaining and deeply touching.” The Times - 5 Stars

Having previously worked together on acclaimed productions Akhnaten, Satyagraha and The Perfect American – the artists reunited to embark on a playful creative journey, investigating big questions in an intimate conversation with music, poetry and puppetry. 

Part-concert, part-performance, Tao of Glass is a storytelling tapestry, soundtracked by Glass’s mesmerising music and bursting with Improbable’s trademark theatricality.

“It is exactly the kind of work that MIF should be commissioning; big names writing about big ideas, producing work which is challenging but, ultimately, universal.” Manchester Evening News

During some of the Manchester performances, Philip Glass unexpectedly played in person, with audiences experiencing what The Observer called "an electric moment and a reverie in real time".

John McGrath, MIF Artistic Director and Chief Executive said “We are thrilled to be taking Phillip and Phelim’s Tao of Glass to Perth Festival to tell this personal and emotive story. We are truly grateful to Perth Festival for their support in the creation of this production and we very much look forward to sharing this beautiful show with Australian audiences.”



Tao of Glass will be the third MIF19 presentation in Australia this year alongside Invisible Cities at Brisbane Festival and The Nico Project at Melbourne Arts Festival, for which 11 students from Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music who performed in the show’s original Manchester inception, travelled with Maxine Peake to Melbourne.

As ever, Manchester International Festival presents work that is made in the city and is shared with the world, with at least nine MIF19 commissions being presented across the globe in partners festivals and venues over the next three years. Some will go onto tour further afield beyond this time, widening the reach of work made in Manchester – MIF commissions have been witnessed by over 1.35 million people in over 30 countries.

Tao of Glass was commissioned by Manchester International Festival, Improbable, Perth Festival, Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen and Carolina Performing Arts – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in association with Naomi Milgrim AO.  Produced by Manchester International Festival and Improbable.



About Manchester International Festival
Manchester International Festival (MIF) launched in 2007 as the world’s first festival of original, new work and special events. It is an artist-led festival staged very two years in Manchester and presents new works from across the spectrum of performing arts, visual arts and popular culture.

This year’s festival took place from 4-21 July 2019. Commissioned artists included Laurie Anderson, Tania Bruguera, Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah, Philip Glass and Phelim McDermott, David Lynch, Yoko Ono, Maxine Peake and Skepta. Artists commissioned for previous festivals include Marina Abramović, Damon Albarn, Björk, Boris Charmatz, Jeremy Deller, Elbow, Wayne McGregor, Steve McQueen, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Thomas Ostermeier, Punchdrunk, The xx, Robert Wilson and Zaha Hadid Architects.

These and other artists create dynamic, innovative and forward-thinking new work, staged in venues across Greater Manchester – from theatres, galleries and concert halls to railway depots, churches and car parks. MIF works closely with venues, festivals and other cultural organisations globally, whose financial and creative input helps to make many of these projects possible and ensures work made in Manchester goes on to be seen around the world.

MIF supports a year-round Creative Engagement programme, bringing opportunities for people from all backgrounds, ages and from all corners of the city to get involved during the festival and year-round, as volunteers, as participants in shows, through skills development workshops and a host of creative activities, such as Festival in My House.

MIF will also run The Factory, the new world-class cultural space being developed in the heart of Manchester, designed by internationally-renowned architects Rem Koolhaas’ Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). Due to open in 2021, The Factory will commission, present and produce a year-round programme, featuring new work from the world’s greatest artists and offering them space to make work of ambition and scale they might not be able to elsewhere. Attracting up to 850,000 visitors, The Factory will add £1.1 billion to the economy and create 1,500 jobs. Its pioneering programme of skills, training and engagement will benefit local people and the next generation of creative talent from across the city, whilst apprenticeships and trainee schemes are already underway during the construction phase.

MIF’s Artistic Director and Chief Executive is John McGrath.

MIF is a registered charity and company limited by guarantee.

Philip Glass
Through his operas, his symphonies, his compositions for his own ensemble, and his wide-ranging collaborations with artists ranging from Twyla Tharp to Allen Ginsberg, Woody Allen to David Bowie, Philip Glass has had an extraordinary and unprecedented impact upon the musical and intellectual life of his times.

His operas – Einstein on the BeachSatyagrahaAkhnaten and The Voyage among many others – play throughout the world’s leading houses, and rarely to an empty seat. Glass has written music for experimental theater and for Academy Award-winning motion pictures such as The Hours and Martin Scorsese’s Kundun, while Koyaanisqatsi his initial filmic landscape with Godfrey Reggio and the Philip Glass Ensemble, may be the most radical and influential mating of sound and vision since “Fantasia.” His associations, personal and professional, with leading rock, pop and world music artists date back to the 1960s, including the beginning of his collaborative relationship with artist Robert Wilson. Glass is the first composer to win a wide, multi-generational audience in the opera house, the concert hall, the dance world, in film and in popular music – simultaneously.

Phelim McDermott is a founder member and Co-Artistic Director of Improbable. He has won Olivier Awards for both Best Entertainment and Best New Opera, TMA Awards for Best touring Production and Best Director, and a Critics Circle Best Design Award. He was awarded a National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts fellowship and an honorary doctorate from Middlesex University. 

Improbable occupies a vital space in the landscape of UK theatre. At the heart of our artistic practice is improvisation. Whether in performance, rehearsal or development we use the practice and philosophy of improvisation in the process of creation (even when we’re working on classic plays or operas).

Improbable uses improvisation to create remarkable shows, support and nurture artists and the arts sector as a whole, and facilitate social change. We see improvisation in all its forms as a tool for social change. It is a deeply democratic art form that fosters a sense of community and empowerment amongst its participants and audiences alike and, in an age of increasing digital complexity, is determinedly live. We believe that society needs a cultural shift that puts creativity at the heart of everyday life.

We’ve staged epic spectacles like Sticky, which was seen by over 250,000 people, theatrical classics like The Tempest at Northern Stage and Theatre of Blood at the National Theatre; pure impro shows like Lost Without Words at the National Theatre and improvised puppetry like Animo in studios across the country; operatic triumphs like Satyagraha and Akhnaten at the English National Opera, London and the Metropolitan Opera, New York; devised pieces like Still No Idea at the Royal Court and Opening Skinner's Box in the UK and US; and Through The Door and Permission Improbable which nurture improvisation cultures grown by female and non-binary performers. Our shows are live events encouraging conversation between us and our audience.

Improbable also runs Devoted & Disgruntled, an ongoing conversation about the future of the performing arts; and the International Institute of Improvisation, connecting improvisational practices in the arts, sciences, economics, mathematics and design from across the world. Improbable is a National Portfolio Organisation of Arts Council England

Perth Festival has been disrupting and celebrating Perth and Western Australia for 65 years.

The Festival was born out of the University of Western Australia’s annual summer school entertainment nights as a ‘festival for the people’ on January 3, 1953. Since then, Perth Festival has seeded and cultivated decades of cultural growth as the oldest arts festival in the Southern Hemisphere. It is Australia’s premier curated multi-arts festival and one of the greatest in the world, known for commissioning major new works, celebrating the unique qualities of Perth and engaging diverse audiences. At Festival time in Perth, there is no other place like this on Earth. For a few weeks every glorious summer, the best artists from Western Australia and the world stand shoulder to shoulder in creative unity with the community.

The Festival and its city share the most dynamic region in the world, the Indian Ocean Rim and East Asian time zone where more than 60% of the world’s population live.

The Ruhrfestspiele is one of the oldest, largest and most renowned theatre festivals in Europe. During the annual festival season from 1 May to mid-June, Recklinghausen is transformed into an international cultural and theatre metropolis. International drama and co-productions with major German-speaking theatres as well as outstanding productions from the off-theatre scene and the New Circus form the core of the contemporary programme. Dance and performance productions, visual arts, readings, concerts and new discourse formats also seek to address relevant plitical issues.

Olaf Kröck is artistic director of the Ruhrfestspiele from the 2019 festival season onwards. Together with his team, he sees the Ruhrfestspiele as an open meeting place where visitors and artists can engage in an exchange on pressing questions of the future.

Carolina Performing Arts – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The core of the mission at Carolina Performing Arts is to curate and present exceptional arts experiences that inspire and provoke our local and global community, and celebrate the intrinsic value of the creative process. Carolina Performing Arts nurtures artistic innovation and the development of new works, and challenges and inspires audiences with experiences to foster opportunities for discovery, thought, and important social discourse. Carolina Performing Arts also solidifies the bonds between the arts and academics through work that integrates the arts into the life of UNC-Chapel Hill and its students.

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