In 2022, we celebrated the 15th anniversary of MANIPULATE with our first series of live events in two years, bringing an exciting programme of cutting-edge work to the audiences of Edinburgh and beyond. Due to the impact of the Omicron variant and the restrictions to indoor events, we proceeded with a reduced programme, presenting 5 live theatre performances, 2 Dinner events, 1 workshop, 3 installations, 3 online short film animation programmes, 1 feature length animation and our Netwalks series between 28th January and 5th February 2022.

Our live theatre performances included a preview of Sadiq Ali’s first solo show The Chosen Haram (Scotland), the World Premiere of EAT ME by Scottish female-led theatre collective Snap-Elastic (Scotland), After Metamorphosis by physical theatre artist Lewis Sherlock and performance writer Ali Maloney (Scotland), Short & Sweet by British dance theatre company Thick & Tight (England), and (le) Pain by Jean Daniel Broussé (England).

We were delighted to host a special new strand Dinner with… which invited audiences to enjoy an evening of delicious food and entertainment in Summerhall Gallery Bar from some of our favourite Scottish performance artists. Our first hosts on the opening weekend were LARDs, an ensemble of Scotland based theatre artists who delivered an evening of bite-sized silliness and prime cuts of nonsense. The second weekend saw a mesmerising evening of illusion and intimate performance from close-up magician and sleight-of-hand artist Tim Licata and theatre company Plutôt la Vie.

Visitors to Summerhall were treated to two immersive installations from French artists Adrien M & Claire B. In Acqua Alta – Crossing the Mirror, the pages of a pop-up book came to life through a tailor-made app, using augmented reality to tell the story of a woman, a man and a house, amid rising waters and storms. Meanwhile, Fauna saw audiences embark on a treasure hunt around Summerhall to discover 10 large format posters, which again used an augmented reality application to reveal animal life hidden within the walls. For two evenings during the festival, public art installation Forest VIDEOLAB by Scottish-based videographer/editor and video artist Mettje Hunneman took place in the Meadows, transforming the public space using immersive video projections and original soundscapes.

Experienced and emerging puppeteers were treated to a masterclass in repurposing domestic and industrial junk to create and animate puppet creatures in Trash-Hack Puppetry Workshop, hosted by Chris Pirie of leading UK puppetry company Green Ginger. And although the weather scuppered our plans for a walk around the Meadows, our Netwalks events saw professionals from all disciplines connect with each other over a hot drink in Summerhall.

In our online animation programme we presented Animated Highlights in partnership with Edinburgh Short Film Festival, and we platformed and celebrated the work of womxn and non-binary animators from around the world with Animated Womxn: International Shorts. Animated Womxn: Aaronimation included a compilation of seven short experimental animated films by legendary American artist and animator Jane Aaron, and was followed by an interview with Aaron’s partner in life and art, Skip Blumberg, while feature length animation My Favourite War told the personal story of its director, Ilze Burkovska Jacobsen, and her experience growing up in the Cold-War USSR.

All of our live performances sold out in advance, with over 700 people attending live events as well as our installations in Summerhall and outdoors, and over 500 unique views for our online events. We saw a great presence at the festival, with 4* reviews from The Guardian (read here) and 4* reviews from The Scotsman (read here), as well as Edinburgh based publications and new writers reviewing the work as part of our Emerging Critics programme.

We were thrilled to be able to present a live festival and share moments of escapism and joy with audiences once again, both online and in person. We can’t wait to see you again at Manipulate 2023!