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Modern Languages and Cultures

Palaver Festival

Palaver is a collaboration between The University of Manchester and Contact, a professional theatre on the University campus.

Contact is a unique organisation which has young people at the heart of everything it does.

The Palaver Festival offers fabulous opportunities for students to explore links between language and performance across a range of genres.

These can take the form of:

  • a short reading,
  • a full-length play or selected extracts,
  • a song,
  • an evening of dance or physical theatre,
  • a DJ set,
  • a workshop,
  • a participatory project.

Past festivals

Get a feel for the festival by viewing our previous events:

Palaver Festival 2016

Collective31 presents

Musical Chitchat

Following on from last year's success, Musical Chitchat is back with another exciting mix of electroacoustic, instrumental and choral works – with new additions of visuals and dance! Themed around the human voice, this blindfolded concert will immerse you in a stimulating, cutting-edge sound world.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016, 7.30pm, £9/£5.


The University's German Society presents

Kabale und Liebe by Friedrich Schiller

Schiller's classic drama about intrigue and love. This play has been abridged and modernised to reflect issues in contemporary British society. Set in a private school, the characters and narrative take on a new relevance for a modern audience.

Performed in German with English subtitles.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016, 8pm and Wednesday 16 March, 11am, £9/£5.


Ziwen Wang presents

吾家有女出嫁时 – Chinese Wedding Experience

Be the guests at a Chinese wedding. Experience the traditions, customs and rituals of this important Chinese ceremony with traditional live Guzheng music and C-pop music and dance. Refreshments will be provided and the audience encouraged to participate.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016, 7pm, £9/£5.


French Studies at The University of Manchester presents

Huis Clos by Jean-Paul Sartre

Imprisoned together in a deceptively luxurious antechamber of Hell, three characters are forced to confront their past deeds – and each other. Sartre’s existentialist masterpiece is presented in all its chilling power.

Performed in French.

Thursday, 17 March 2016, 3pm and 8pm, £9/£5.


The University's Chinese Society presents

车站 – Bus Stop by Gao Xingjian

Inspired by 'Waiting for Godot', this modern play raises philosophical questions about the Cultural Revolution. By highlighting issues Chinese society faced during this time and how they still affect China today this performance creates a greater understanding of modern Chinese language and culture.

Performed in Chinese with English subtitles.

Thursday, 17 March and Friday 18 March 2016, 7.30pm, £9/£5.

Palaver Festival 2015

Music and Drama at The University of Manchester present:

Musical Chitchat

An innovative and contemporary concert exploring the voice as an instrument. An eclectic mix from a-cappella choirs to electroacoustic music.

This concert will intrigue anyone with an interest in contemporary music and culture.

Tuesday 14 April 2015, 7:30pm, £9/£5


The University's German Society presents:

Der Aufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui by Bertolt Brecht

1930s Chicago: Bertolt Brecht's allegorical satire in which Adolf Hitler's rise to power is filtered through the story of mobster Arturo Ui and his hoodlums attempting to take over the cauliflower racket by ruthlessly disposing of the opposition.

A story that is both comic and thrilling in equal measure.

Performed in German with English subtitles.

Thursday 16 April – Saturday 18 April 2015, 7:30pm, £9 / £5

Friday evening's performance was followed by a talk by leading Brecht specialist Professor Stephen Parker.

Palaver Festival 2014

French Studies presents

Oh Les Beaux Jours by Samuel Beckett

Exploring the limits of language, interpersonal relationships and theatre in a bold and innovative adaptation of Samuel Beckett's play.

Tuesday, 25 and Wednesday, 26 March

Presented in French.


The Action Palestine Society presents

My Name Is Rachel Corrie

The play tells the true story of an American peace activist who lost her life working for peace in Palestine in March 2003. Based on her emails and diary entries, this one-woman play deals with cultural identity, humanity and courage.

Tuesday, 25 March, and Wednesday, 26 March

Presented in English.


Xavier Velastin presents

Lips, Teeth And Tongues

From spoken word to electronically altered singing, anyone with an interest in the musicality of words will be entertained.

Thursday, 27 March

Presented in English.


Two Destination Language with Contact and Word of Warning present

Near Gone

With pulse-pounding gypsy-inspired music, this beautiful story of survival fills an empty space with two performers, hundreds of fresh flowers and a storm of emotion.

Thursday, 27 March

Presented in Bulgarian and English.


Middle Eastern Studies presents

An Evening Of Arabic Poetry And Music

This aims to connect with the Manchester Arab community, speakers of Arabic and fans of the literature and culture of the Arab world. Poetry will be recited in Arabic and in translation synchronised with Arabic music. 

Saturday, 29 March

Presented in Arabic and English.


The University of Manchester's German Society presents 

Anne Frank 

Based on 'The Diary of Anne Frank'. Anne’s captivity and tragic death made her famous, but it is her wit and hope which endear her to millions. 

Friday, 28 and Saturday, 29 March

Presented in German with English subtitles.

Palaver Festival 2013

The University of Manchester's Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies Students' Society presented:

La Casa De Bernarda Alba by Federico García Lorca

A classic which is a must for all students.

Presented in Spanish.


The Apollo Saxophone Quartet presented

40 Minute Warning

Live music with multimedia, fusing the Cuban missile crisis and 9/11, speech recordings of JFK and air traffic controllers.


French Studies presents

Occupe-Toi D'amélie by Georges Feydeau

A classic French farce.
Curtain raiser: 'Le Petit Manunian', short piece performed by year 10 pupils from Chorlton High School. Interval entertainment provided by 'Les chanteurs'
Presented in French.


Multilingual Manchester and the Satellite State Disko presents

Live Music From The Organgrinder

Plus DJ sets. Featuring musicians from around the globe. Multi-lingual vocals.


The University of Manchester Applied Theatre Department presents

The Fabric Of Language: Words And The Spaces In-Between

Workshop session with a creative improvisational and playful aspect.


The German Society presents

Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera) by Bertolt Brecht

Presented in German.
Afterwards: Kastanienallee, girl band singing in English and German.

Festival flyers

Get a feel for the festival by viewing our festival flyers:

Further information

Please email Palaver Festival enquiries to Mr Thomas Despotisos, Senior Language Tutor (German):