The Mikron Theatre Company
Founded in 1972, also by Mike Lucas, and established in Marsden in 1978, Mikron is a professional theatre company that performs “anywhere for everyone by canal, river and road”. In 46 years, they have performed at allotments, care homes, community centres, dry docks, festivals, lifeboat stations, pubs, rallies, restaurants, village halls and Youth Hostels – not to mention inside a tunnel, in the bows of a docked boat and in people’s very own front rooms. With 150 venues in 2017 alone, they are the most prolific touring company in the UK, touring by road in spring and autumn and on their 1936 narrowboat ‘Tyseley’ in the summer.
Mikron’s Artistic Director and long-time Marsden resident Marianne McNamara shares her impressions of the jazz festival:
“If I tell people I’m from Marsden, they say – oh yes, the Jazz Festival! I do think that really defines Marsden. People come here for that reason and that’s how they remember it: glorious sunshine (hopefully!), and lots of music.”
“I’ve journeyed through the jazz festival: as an actor working for Mikron, when I came along and listened to everything, when Mike [Lucas] was involved; as a young mother, nosing around with the pram, nipping in and out of gigs; and now with the boys, 8 and 10, being very much part of the festival! “When’s the parade, mum? What bands are we going to see this year? Do we get to stay up late?”.
It’s wonderful, so exciting, so vibrant. It makes you proud to be a part of it. I will never forget, 2 years ago, watching the parade with these magnificent machines pounding out smoke of different colours and music, and the school children and their families so involved… I felt so emotional, and so admiring that Barney, who is a neighbour and very good friend, managed to create, from the nugget of an idea, this huge event that everybody is a part of, that we all belong to. Everything that makes people come together, that makes you smile, that lightens up where you live, of course it stays with us. In that sense, the Jazz Festival is like theatre – it’s a shared event.
Marsden, and Slaithwaite next door, are wonderful creative villages, with lots of people doing exciting things – animators, actors, musicians… It makes life so much richer. It also make our children think that creativity is “normal” – which is not something that I experienced myself as a child growing up in Salford!