Contact Theatre and Rasa co -production ‘Handlooms’ is set to be shown in a sari shop on Wilmslow Road


  • Alankar on Wilmslow Road becomes the set for Handlooms
  • This follows Contact Theatre's temporary closure for redevelopment  

The Contact Theatre and Rasa co-production, Handlooms, is going to be set in Alankar House of Sarees on Wilmslow Road this March, as part of Contact’s temporary relocation.

This comes as part of Contact’s year long programme of performance and participation activities that are set to appear in many different locations across Manchester, whilst the theatre building undergoes a £6.75million redevelopment.

Handlooms tells the story of a mother and son who are both seeking solutions to a business crisis. The son wants to be committed to creating unique, handmade sari’s, whereas his mother wants to expand the business through mass production.

Matt Fenton, Artistic Director at Contact Theatre, told us how the idea to set the production in a local sari shop came about: “We’re showing some Contact shows in other people’s venues, but we really wanted to find some unusual locations to show performances. We also wanted to engage with some communities that we’ve not engaged with that much recently, one of those being Rusholm.”

He added: “The show itself was Rani Moorthy’s idea, she runs Rasa, a local theatre company based in Manchester. Rani has been exploring the sari in her work recently and she had this idea to make a show that would be located in a sari shop, but to use that as a way to talk about what the sari means in particular cultures.”

The show will be an immersive and intimate theatre experience as it’s set to host around 25 audience members at a time, with some of the show being heard through headphones as you move around the shop.

Poonam Modha, who runs Alankar House of Sarees with her family said: “We’re really excited, it’s just nice to have something that’s a mix of our world, the fashion world and to bring them both together.”

Alankar is currently ran by Poonam’s parents, after her grandfather originally opened the shop in the 70’s.

She added: “We’ve been in Manchester quite a long time, so it’s nice to be recognised as a big store and for the show to be in here really means a lot to us.”

Among the many sari shops on Wilmslow Road, we asked Matt why Alankar was the chosen location to host this special show: “Contact and Rani did some sight visits along the curry mile and Rani really liked the vibrancy and the look of that sari shop.”

The Handlooms production doesn’t end in Manchester, as Matt explains: “We’re going to develop and present the show first in Manchester and then we’re going to take it to Leicester. It’ll be performed in Alankar’s partner shop, which also belongs to the same family. So we’re really pleased that it’s going to have a second life in Leicester.”

Handlooms will show from Tuesday March 13th – Sunday March 25th in Alankar House of Sarees on Wilmslow Road. 



NB: ‘sari’ can be spelt two ways: ‘sari’ or ‘saree’, depending on your first language. ‘Alankar House of Sarees’ is the way the shop spell it.