As part of our quest to save the arches and what we do, we asked Manchester to share their thoughts on our tunnels, the work we produce & what 53two means to them. They flooded in, we read them, we cried at how wonderful our patrons are & we wanted to share some of them with you...
Want to leave us a note? Do so here!
"53Two has quickly become a vital component in the arts ecology and economy of Manchester and
I was saddened to hear of its need to vacate its current home in the arches. It has provided a high
quality and supportive platform for both local and touring productions as well as being a home for
important fringe-level, cabaret, poetry and musical performances and artists.
This is a level, scene and network that is vital for emerging artists, for sustaining established artists,
and one for which audiences are not hugely well served elsewhere in the city centre. It is in such
venues that the skills are gained, the ideas are developed and the relationships are built that makes
Manchester the world renowned centre for the arts that we must remain.
I’m happy for my name to be added to the call for all possible support to be co-ordinated for 53Two
to find a new city centre home from which to thrive. These are good people doing good things for
the city and the arts and I wish them every success."
Tony Walsh, Poet & Performer
D.Litt (Hon), FRSA Winner: Performance of the Year, Manchester Culture Awards 2018
"This space is vital to the theatre scene in Manchester. It’s helped so many people be creative, put on
their work, work in general!! It’s not just a ‘space’ it’s a community building with many
relationships being formed whether it be friendships or work related. We need this place to
continue in Manchester as so much exciting, new, emerging theatre is created here and it has a
home to show to the public!
Anyone investing, sponsoring, funding this building are doing so in the knowledge it’s going to
thrive, hundreds and thousands of people will be walking through that door and opportunities
given to many who wouldn’t get it.
I could literally go on forever about all the positives this place has and gives to so many. As someone
who puts on a regular show here (MonologueslamUK) I love the fact it’s in a place like this and not a
main stream theatre that all the other uk shows are in. The atmosphere, the organisation, the
welcoming are second to none! I hope their work continues as I will for sure be booking our
Autumn show here once it’s up and running in its new home!!"
"53Two provides opportunities for new actors, writers and directors to develop and practice their
craft. It is a melting pot of creatives from around the North West. It provides an essential space for
new voices to try new works and develop them. I believe the work of 53Two is essential to support
new up and coming talent and on a personal level it provided the opportunity for my son (19yrs) to
perform in a short play that has the potential to open up his career, an opportunity that without
53Two just wasn’t there."
"Been to 53two on a number of occasions and found it to be a great experience. The productions
were superbly performed and directed. The atmosphere is like sitting in your own front room and a
travelling theatre group perform for you. It’s a place that people who have never seen a show on the
big stage can go and experience it close up. It’s a place that’s needed in Manchester to give would
be actors a chance to show what they can do. Simon Naylor and 53two bring shows to people who
would not normally go to a big theatre. It’s a small and intimate place with big productions."
"Innovative, challenging, an important part of Manchester’s improving cultural scene."
"53Two has been fundamental in my development as an actor and writer. I’ve attended training
courses (screen acting, improvisation and Meisner), I’ve delivered audition pieces for Monologue-
SLAM and, most importantly, I’ve seen a lot of great plays under the arches. As a venue for the
Manchester Fringe and JB Shorts I’ve seen ground-breaking, cutting-edge, culturally relevant
theatre on both of its stages. I am not aware of another theatre in the country that provides the
range and depth of theatrical performance offered by 53Two."
"I have attended many courses at 53Two as well as been able to perform there. Their courses are
great value for money, easy accessible and well run. The support you get from the venue and staff
when performing there or putting your own production on is flawless. They are committed and
helpful and most importantly approachable. They give a performance space to people to showcase
their work, and a relaxed atmosphere to network with other creatives."
"Having visited 53Two on a number of occasions, it is clear to every theatre goer that this venue is a
cut above the rest. The passion, dedication and professionalism that goes into every event is second
"53two provides a wonderful opportunity for writers and actors alike to show off their skills. Also,
for the patron, it offers a homely personal experience not found at the mainstream large theatres.
The Manchester art scene would be much poorer if 53Two wasn’t in existence!"
"I rate 53two above many other venues - it’s small, quirky and friendly and can be relied on to
present a wide range of events. I’m not aware of anywhere else in Manchester that offers so many
nights of short plays and new material, and if 53two were unable to secure new premises it would
leave a severe hole in my social/cultural life!"
"53two has added to my development as an actor and as a person. The facility it provides for both
education and entertainment of the people of Manchester is second to none and is done with none
of the elitism that can be a problem in the arts. It must not be lost."
"I associate the start of my relationship with this theatre space around the same time as I set up my
own actors agency and becuase of that it will always have a special place in my heart! I have never
had a close knit relationship with a theatre space before, I suppose when I think about it that’s quite
an unusual thing to have but this company has without a doubt helped to not only support,
encourage and stabilise my business but also it has allowed me as a person to grow in confidence
knowing they are always there as a family, it is my Manchester home and will always be somewhere
I treasure going to and for that I feel extremely lucky!"
"As a producer I know that 53two is meeting a need. Before it existed there were very limited
options for producing affordable theatre in Manchester. Hire costs were just too high. A lot of new
shows have been made that wouldn’t have been made. And these have reached new audiences with
their affordable ticket prices. 53two is also a hub for creative talent to get support and a sense of
community. On a personal note, I’ve also been able to develop and practice my skills as an actor.
This has both been through training provided there and through performing on the 53two stage.
They were able to offer training at an accessible affordable rate, presumably in part due to having
their own venue. I would not have been able to afford the alternative training options available in
Manchester. This training has meant so much to me and has transformed my life. Thank you for the
incredible support of Simon, Alex and every member of the 53two team."
"Since I have been going to 53two, it has changed a part of my life in a special way. Apart from seeing
some truly amazing plays there, my social network of people, I have met in the industry I choose
as my career, has grown. I feel 53two has become a comfortable, friendly venue I can visit, even at
times alone, yet feel safe and secure to enjoy an evening out which is affordable and in atmosphere
which I feel is a perfect environment. 53two is a versatile venue. It can hold theatre, film evenings,
parties and celebrations. I have been visiting 53two for the past couple of years and I have had the
honour of being invoved in the film challenges there. The staff and management of the venue have
worked hard to make it what it has become, and we appreciate all the hard work that has gone on
behind the scenes to make 53two what it has become. I for one, would be sorry to see 53two go. It
brings too much fulfilment to many people’s lives, on many levels."
"I have regularly attended a number of events at 53Two since it opened. I have always found the
welcome to be incredibly warm and friendly and the atmosphere vibrant. As a writer I have had the
privilege to have some of my work staged here. If it wasn’t for 53Two and the encouragement they
provide I would struggle to find similar venues where my work could be staged. Venues like 53Two
are part of the backbone of Fringe Theatre in Manchester, encouraging under represented groups
and individuals to be able to access theatre and develop their skills as creatives and performers.
53Two has continued to push the boundaries and raise the standards of theatre in Manchester.
They have given opportunities to so many people of all ages and different ethnic, cultural and class
backgrounds, who otherwise would have difficulty in finding outlets for their creativity. Audiences
love the venue and have responded to the preparedness of 53Two to present plays and events at
affordable prices which are difficult to access elsewhere in the city. It is vitally important that
53Two finds another venue to continue this brilliant work."
"53Two is essential to Manchester theatre as an accessible, supportive and welcoming venue.
Speaking from my own experience, 53Two nurtures early-career artists giving them a wealth of
opportunities to explore every avenue of their creativity. It’s a safe space to try out new work, make
mistakes, have triumphs and champions a sense of community. Personally benefitting from their
support in helping me put on my first show outside of training, 53Two have helped me to grow in
confidence. Thanks to their support I’ve been able to write another play and have a scratch showing
and grown in confidence enough to send my work elsewhere as well as to festivals and
competitions and take part in response nights. 53Two is truly for artists."
"Well, where do I start? As well as being lovely people, they are supportive of so many types of
performance. The Arches are always busy entertaining Manchester. They have been so supportive
of my writing and the writing of many emerging playwrights. Many thanks to them and I think it is
such a shame that they are losing the Arches... I hope 53two continues in its next manifestation!"
"It’s thoroughly important to have such a central collective hub where creatives alike can produce
next generation theatre to the public. We are aviators and pioneers of this age taking to the skies
by opening people’s imagination. To think and do right by each other. This theatre holds everything
that’s true to survive in these times and breaking this would be a great shame for Manchester.
Never has theatre been so important to people and these stories need telling to better ourselves
not to carpet it under rumbles and build a hotel."
"Finding 53Two has been somewhat life changing and life enhancing for me. Having come into the
acting industry late in life to find a place such as this is incredible. I have performed there twice
and the encouragement, professionalism and welcome given by Simon and Alex is second to none. I
have also attended excellent classes there. And last but not least found a theatre to visit as an
audience member on so many occasions to watch theatre at its best. It’s an amazing place to be able
to go with friends or alone as there will always be a friendly and familiar face there whenever you
go. Manchester needs and loves 53Two."
"The owners of 53Two are passionate about what they do, the industry in which they participate and
the people who frequent all of it. They promote an inclusive environment with a non-elitist attitude.
From theatre, film, weddings, functions, gigs and many corporate and yummy food events, there is
so much on offer, it’s mind-boggling. 53Two helps local talent flourish by directly supporting artists
and local businesses through special events (such as the MancMade festivals), sponsorship of
theatre productions through discounted venue prices, their very own Foundation scheme etc.
I have directly benefited from the support of 53Two, who allowed my theatre production to
conduct a table reading of a play within the arches for NO COST (other than munchies). This kind
of benevolence is why I keep going back to 53Two as one of my preferred venues in the great city
of Manchester. The team is awesome, they run on a shoestring and give all of their soul to us... the
punters! Oh... did I mention that they also employ people to help run the place? It may be small
potatoes to hand bar-staff a few quid for a night serving thirsty punters, but it shares the love and
passion of everything that makes the team brilliant! Long live 53Two."
"For the excellent plays, they put on. Supporting up and coming artists, producers and writers."
"Being involved with 53two has changed my life. Without the support of 53two and Simon Naylor I
would still not have told my story on a stage. My story, of domestic abuse, is one that affects
millions of people in this country and my speaking out has already inspired others to start telling
their stories too. I am currently involved with a charity who support women to leave and/or
recover from domestic abuse and together we are working towards getting my story heard on
bigger stages, in colleges and universities and in front of the people who have the power to change
legislation and distribute the funding that is needed to begin the eradication of domestic abuse."
"I have never loved an organisation as much as I love 53two. Their continuous support for
emerging artists is remarkable and has provided me personally with opportunities that have
significantly enhanced my own career; from hosting monologue slam which allowed me to
showcase both my writing and acting, to producing shows such as the MancMade Christmas
festival and Offcut Manchester which have allowed my writing and acting to be seen by industry
professionals, 53two have helped me no end. Without these opportunities that 53two have provided
I would not have had the vital ‘credits’ that are required for meaningful participation in the arts. As
a disabled artist, barriers to accessing careers in the arts are rife and as such, there is a significant
lack of representation, but 53two have demonstrated their relentless commitment to ensuring
inclusion and equal access to these opportunities and in doing so have built a ramp to the
stage- something which has not been done for me anywhere else. 53two have also hosted the
Disabled Artists Networking Community (DANC) and have remained in conversation with the
Disabled artists community to ensure best practice. It is not only physical inclusion that has been
championed by 53two but, in aiming to make theatre accessible for all, they now also offer
Unwaged tickets. For an independent theatre this is incredible and sets the standard for all. In such
uncertain times, with job and employment precarity growing, this is such an important part of
making leisure and cultural activities available to all, not just those with large disposable incomes.
I myself have experienced homelessness and abject poverty and should this sort of initiative have
been available to me then I would have certainly felt more valued and included in the arts
community and society more generally. I want to thank 53two for their passion and commitment
and hope they can continue their vital work. The most sincere, welcoming and supportive team!"
"53two is vital to the fringe theatre landscape of Manchester. It presents work of the highest
quality and gives a platform for artists who would otherwise feel lost in what can be a daunting city.
Through schemes such as FOUNDation, they support emerging artists and their help was so
important to our production Flushed and our company Theatre Unlocked. They nurtured us, guided
us and enabled us to showcase our work in places and to audiences we otherwise wouldn’t have
been able to. Without this amazing theatre, the Manchester theatre scene would lose an important hub."
"It is a focus for people who want to showcase their drama skills, it is a centre for alternative
drama and a venue for drama courses since the closure of The Green Room, it is run by
professionally qualified people who exude dynamism and a passion for drama."
"I have attended inspirational acting weekend workshops run by Simon Naylor and Karen
Henthorn. Have also attended various gigs there. It has a great vibe and atmosphere and serves the
community well, providing education, entertainment and a performance platform."
"Recently I moved to Manchester from London. Theatre 53two has been the only theatrical link I
have had since moving up here. Not only have I seen some fantastic shows but I have also had help
getting my first audition in Manchester. It has been such a help."
"I support the continuous work of 53two after moving from the wonderful, authentic space in the
arches where ‘true art’ of any form could be performed. Their work adds so much value to the city
of Manchester. I personally have learnt so much about the craft of acting from the team at 53two
(specifically Simon Naylor) as I have undertaken training as well as being part of the great
production ‘The Newspaper Boy’ in 2018. There is something so specific and wonderful being in
a ‘real’ space that truly represents the city and the work of 53two has been of high quality run by
people with a certain gravitas. I wish them all the best in obtaining a new space and will carry on
support their future projects."
"53two is a fantastic venue for all talent, especially new and upcoming talent. The work that
everyone @ 53two has done is incredible! Special shoutout to Simon Naylor and Alexandra Maxwell
for creating a special place. I’m lucky enough to have been able to perform there. I hope I get the
"53Two is a creative hub which is fizzing with talent and enthusiasm. They help facilitate artists
develop and nurture the talent. Before their incarnation - I simply defined myself as an actor
musician. Through participation on their 3 Month Acting intensive- I developed my skills as a
writer, penning a showcase scene as well as two short plays. Equally they have encouraged me to
continue to take risks and I have now branched out to directing, taking part in MAP 48 hr film
competition and more recently during the Offcut Festival season in which the play I directed got to
the final industry selection stage. Their ethos and community is an integral part of the Manchester
"When I came to 53two I didn’t know anybody - I left with friends and a place to call home. The
theater scene can be clicky - and 53two isn’t... Or it is - and you’re in the click from the outset. I
couldn’t have achieved the success I’ve had without the help, support and encouragement of Simon
and his team. 53two is the beating heart of ground zero - grass roots theater in Manchester -
MancMade and proud to be so... If this venue and what it stands for and what it believes in ever
disappeared God only knows what would happen to the vast creative talent it embraces and nurtures."
"I think it is genuinely my favourite space in the UK. It is such a hub of important creativity and
important subject matter. Having just moved to Manchester I have been so impressed with the level
of work and diversity of work that is shown. As a company director myself my dream is to have a
show put on there too. Simon is a true hero in the arts world and all of the team that help support
this iconic venue are amazing. I cannot wait for what the future holds for this awesome venue! It is
so important this continues as we raise important subject matter in a community that makes it very
accessible and also raises important voices that aren’t usually heard! This platform is the main body
of how our society can develop and have the important conversations that must be had!
Keep it up!"
"The minute I found the arches I felt like I had found a family that I knew would support me and have
my back. The communal creative feeling you get at 53Two is wonderful. It provides so many
opportunities for artists and is doing some amazing work towards making theatre accessible to all. I
always leave feeling refreshed, inspired and driven to continue forwards."
"53two has been a hot bed of talent, with new writing being explored it’s amazing to see them take
on work from writers and theatre companies who are just making their way in the world. A lot of
theatres in Manchester feel impossible to get into, especially as a creative. I was hoping to work
with 53two in the future, it doesn’t seem impossible to be able to stage some work or be involved in
a performance. Ticket prices aren’t extortionate but you are seeing quality theatre. It’s a supportive
place that offers diverse theatre, and with subject matters that mean something. They are
constantly coming up with different events and nights to showcase topics and skills. The new
performers, the emerging talent in Manchester have somewhere they can access, to put on their
work and be recognised. I can’t wait to see what else they come up with."
"At 53two I have been a writer as part of Pensive Federation and a director twice, once for the
straight acting theatre company and once for Offcut Mcr. It is a hub for independent theatre in
Manchester as venues close and companies struggle. It is open, supportive and inclusive, pushing
for diversity. I am saddened to hear it may close. Despite probably not having a huge income it
supports artists like myself providing free rehearsal space, which is so special and generous. There’s
no standoffishness which you can get with other more mainstream venues. They also do so much
for charity including events. Which main house is providing such cheap tickets for jobseekers? I
hope they have the support needed to grow and develop further."
"How do I as an individual as an Actor view 53two.?...here’s but a few “labels” I would attach to
them...Creative Innovative Diverse Professional Welcoming Affordable Appealing Inspiring Belief
Passionate Driven Quality Empowering Consistent Integrity Efficiency Focused Transparent
Developers Leaders Optimistic Service oriented, Positive Collaborative - a breath of fresh air to
Manchester, for a small company it’s name is prevalent in any conversations reference theatre in
the North West given the length of time established and it’s brilliant team that go all out to give
their audience and actors nothing but a positive experience that in itself deserves recognition!"
"I’d go so far as to say 53Two have been pivotal in the development of my Voice/Accent Coaching
business. From the get go, they’ve been open to discussion, inclusive of me in their training
provision and supportive by way of knockdown space hire rates to name but one. Their entire ethos
is to make the theatre industry here thrive from the bottom up, helping the new artists, under
represented artists, unwaged and anyone who needs some guidance and help. They are an integral
part of the Manchester arts scene and a 100% necessary entity. And ruddy lovely people to boot. All
"53Two is a fantastic space for creatives in Manchester to network, showcase incredible work and
it’s accessible for all. One of the most moving pieces of work I’ve ever experienced in theatre was
‘The Glasshouse’, I was lucky enough to have my writing performed as part of the wonderful and
empowering ‘Celebrating Women In The Arts’ event here and I brought my now boyfriend to
see Jb Shorts here on our second date and we have since had several date nights in the arches
experiencing wonderful theatre together. Simon and Alex are such warm, welcoming people and
they show endless encouragement and support to the Manchester Theatre scene and I think that
they deserve nothing more than to receive the same encouragement and support they give so selflessly."
"This is a theatre space that has welcomed me as a new writer-a woman over forty - and encouraged
me to develop my work and ideas. Creatives are encouraged to learn and develop their craft
here. As a result I have recently had my first play staged at Offcut Manchester. This is a place where
new theatre for all-not just for an elite- is developed, nurtured and brought to life in outstanding
performance. This is a venue where the unwaged can see a performance for two pounds. My son
has a muscle wasting condition and uses a wheelchair. He cannot transfer. Whist he studied theatre
and performance at University, he was able to access all productions without problems, as there is a
ramp and accesible toilets. In contrast, many theatres are inaccessible. When he graduated with a
First class degree and began to perform, reaching the final of the monologue slam, Simon Naylor
built him a ramp so he could easily access the stage. He has since performed on stage in in play for
Offcut, again using the ramp which is a permanent part of the staging. This is a friendly welcoming
space which offers theatre for all and has changed the face of theatre in Manchester. Simon Naylor
and Alexandra Maxwell’s passion for theatre and people shines through everything they do."
"53two gave my company, Elysium TC, its first show in Manchester, Owen MacCafferty’s ‘Days Of
Wine And Roses’. Without that offer, we would never have started. Just over a year later Elysium has
staged four productions and is touring the North East with a main stage production of ‘Miss Julie’.
53two made all of that possible. Their continued support and passion since that first production has
been overwhelming, and I have watched Simon, Alex and David turn their company into a
powerhouse on the Manchester scene, producing or playing host to great theatre, providing
opportunities for writers, directors, actors and designers and inspiring everyone by proving that
passion and commitment can work wonders. 53two is a Manchester treasure and a vital part of the
city’s theatre ecology. Its achieved wonders already and will go on to achieve even greater wonders.
It must go on. I take great pleasure in endorsing it and urge anyone who cares about the arts and
theatre’s power to make a difference to get behind it."
"In the nearly nine years I have lived in Manchester, there hasn’t been a creative venue quite like
53Two. I have been a part of some fabulous events there including hosting my own event as well as
going for social reasons such as New Year’s Eve or to support fellow thesps in plays. There’s no ego
at 53Two; Simon, Alex, Dave & all the other staff are warm, friendly, supportive & work hard. It’s a
place that unites lots of actors together to catch up & meet & work together. Long may it reign!"
"53two has opened up many opportunities for me and I am so grateful. It also delivers a high
standard of Proffessional acting classes. My absolute highlight was taking part in Map Rep and 48
hour film challenge."
"As an all too infrequent visitor to Manchester I don’t know if my voice carries any weight, but every
time I have visited over the past few years I have seen 53two grow in ways I could not have
predicted. Yes, the work they do has grown in scope, ambition, and quality. Yes, their facilities have
been upgraded to make the theatre more accessible and welcoming. But mostly impressive, and
important I think, is their outreach into the community. 53two has brought together so many
people, instilled so much passion, taught so much craft, and meant so much to people in a short
space of time I think it would be criminal if this brand and this exceptional group were not allowed
to continue to change and inspire in a new, permanent venue."
"Although I am offering this testimonial about the ‘Building‘ described simply as 53two it is impossible,
for me, not to chronicle my thoughtswithout referring to 53two as a new ‘WAY-OF-LIFE ’,
unique to MANCHESTER. Allow me to explain. Before 53two there was a vibrant Mancunian Theatre
Community , BUT it was clearly split, between ‘Amateur’ and ‘Professional’. Likemost conurbations,
these two passionate communities did not recognise, let alone ,show any respect for each other, so
they never, creatively, had any chance of ever combining to generate a NEW community of Actors.
The arrival of 53two almost immediately ended this division and created this NEW community. In
my case , I had been a successful professional Television Producer/Director for over 50 years. Due
to life threatening illness ( contacted whilst directing the ‘International Indian Film & Television
Award’ Show in Mauritius),I was forced to retire from the career that I had enjoyed so much. To
begin again , at the age of 75, would normally be unthinkable and certainly to find a route to that
end, virtually impossible. Then along came 53two initially, in the form of the MANCHESTER
ACTORS PLATFORM (MAP). To my utter amazement and delight I found that the unique philosophy,
(formulated by SIMON NAYLOR) , facilitated a situation in which I could mix with both the
amateur and the professional, whilst learning the skills required by many other facets of my
previously long career. Because SIMON NAYLOR decided that the interior layout of 53(2) would be
sectioned off to produce a working bar, a working Theatre, numerous areas designated for
teaching, dressing rooms and meeting rooms. It meant that whenever I visited 53(2) I was guaranteed
to meet and talk to a fellow enthusiasts whilst learning about genuine opportunities within
53two. So far I have completed THREE Acting courses plus introductions to both the Stanislavsky
and Meisner acting methods , Welcomed into the NORTH WEST WONDERS festival ( where I
received very positive Critical Acclaim) and more recently in the new OFF-CUTS Festival. None of
this would have been possible without the uniqueness of 53two. 53two has changed my life from a
potential sedentary and most unsatisfactory enforced retirement into a critically acclaimed actor
(making my theatrical debut at the age of 78) . I cannot express my gratitude enough to 53(2) for
giving me a brand new lease of life which has also impacted on my entire family (visiting my
performances in 53two from as far afield as Hong Kong, Bermuda, Berlin and London.) There ARE
other venues for amateur and/ or professional theatricals to gather ( Royal Exchange, HOME , Hope
theatre ) but NONE with anywhere near the warmth, non- judgmental, welcoming, inclusive
atmosphere that can ONLY to be found in 53(2). I am NOT referring to a building called 53two, but
the philosophy that has turned a building called 53two into a WAY OF LIFE that just did not exist
"2 and a half years ago I was signed off from the fire service suffering from PTSD. They were very
dark times and I had a long struggle ahead of me. I was receiving counselling from the service in
Manchester and I used to pass 53two every Monday. I popped in one day to see how they were doing
and have a chat and the rest is history. I found people who were there as a community and not a
business and they invited me to be a part of it. I was given free courses, as the fire service stopped
my pay. I readily helped when I could and they understood if I let them down on occasions as some
days it was hard to leave the house, but they were always there for me as friends and I was always
welcome. Eventually I turned my life around and feel more confident in dealing with things.
I’ve even been in plays and on tv. I can honestly say that Simon and Alex have helped me more than
they will ever know and I am forever grateful."
"This theatre space is vital to the many, MANY, actors, writers, poets, musicians, comedians and
theatre lovers of Manchester. It’s more than a space, it’s a mentality. It’s a community for people to
network, create and achieve. I personally feel like 53two is the only space in Manchester I can
experience my writing actually being performed to an audience. It’s achievable. Without it there
would be no realistic space for new and upcoming writers to see their work on stage. It needs to
exist. It’s vital."
"53two gave me so much experience at such a young stage in my career in the form of JB Shorts and
for that I’ll be forever grateful that I got the opportunity to perform under the arches. It champions
the untold stories, the fresh talent, the voices that might not be heard. All this is shown by the
amount of new writing that is presented consistently there. The team genuinely care about theatre
and producing good theatre that is accessible to all. 53two is not just a theatre, it’s a community
built around the people of Manchester and one that encourages and welcomes everyone to have
their own special experience."
"Amazing venue, I have watched and been lucky enough to perform also. The staff that work there
are so helpful and polite."
"I’ve seen several brilliant productions there and have been able to do so as they focussed on
inclusion and affordability."
"I have lost count as to the number of times I have visited 53two to experience the varied
programme of live theatre. Part of the attraction is the quirky venue. 53two has kept the cost of
tickets very affordable and is a great platform for both actors and writers. Following JB Shorts to
53two was how I first discovered the venue."
"This theatre space is one of a kind. Offering more opportunities than any other that I know of.
I am the co founder of TripleC which creates projects to break down barriers to up inclusion and
representation of disability in the arts. We created the Disabled Artists Networking community
(DANC) which is hosted by different theatre’s or arts venues every 6-8 weeks. 53TWO was one of
our strongest DANC events yet. Simon and his team listened to everything we said/suggested and
made 53TWO accessible to all disabled artists!! And that was just the start. Since then, they have
given so many opportunities to professional disabled actors and writers and quite honestly changed
their lives. If every arts venue/organisation/theatre had the same values and passion for change as
53TWO and the team, the arts industry would be more inclusive, more accessible, more
representative and even more life changing. LONG LIVE 53TWO."
"There is so much talent in this team, the productions they stage are varied and thought provoking.
Their production of “The Glass House” was superb, great directing and wonderful acting, it
deserves to get awards!!!! Love coming to this theatre....... always a warm welcome awaiting too!
Best wishes for future ventures."
"What I love about 53two is the effort it puts in to giving opportunities to emerging artists.
Personally, I’ve not been lucky enough to go straight in to a graduate job after leaving drama school
which I’ve felt disheartened by. At one time I doubted my ability and lost a lot of confidence. But the
Off Cut festival, in partnership with 53two, has completely changed my outlook! It’s given me the
chance to meet other creatives and I’ve regained all of my confidence (and it’s added even more).
53two unites actors, writers and directors and encourages us to create and share our own work
with each others support. In my opinion, it’s the most accessible theatre for not only artists but
theatre goers too as the work put on show is always current and relevant. It’s such an important
place to me because it gave me a space to develop. I don’t know of any other theatres in the area
which offer that to the extent of 53two. 53two is a unique, warm and welcoming hub and
Manchester wouldn’t be the same without it!"
"An important addition to the local theatre scene. Democratic, approachable. Has helped fill the void
that followed the collapse of organizations like North West Playwrights and the 24:7 theatre festival.
A place where entry level theatremakers can learn their craft and gain confidence. A supportive and
vital part of the local theatre ecology."
"As a theatre blogger, 53two provides a crucial service to Manchester’s theatre scene. Making the
arts accessible and affordable to all. It plays a pivotal part in promoting emerging creative talent.
Nothing shows this more than Switch Mcr."
"Since the creation of 53two my enjoyment of live theatre has been rekindled. I have attended many
productions, both in the main theatre and the pod, from Macbeth to Take That. Every visit has been
a joy, not only in the Theatre, but the relaxing atmosphere in the whole arches have become a vital
part of my life. the opportunities this small theatre offers to amateurs and professionals alike
would be greatly missed in Manchester and deserves all our backing. Long live 53two."
"There is no other venue in Manchester which strikes the balance between selective (producing a
constant high caliber of work & promoting conversation on essential/unspoken about issues), and
approachable (friendly & encouraging of new/unheard of artists, and artists from all backgrounds).
It’s a place where you can constantly find exciting new work, feel part of a real community, or even
just grab a pint. Simon, Alex, Dave, and the whole team at 53Two work continuously to help artists
who otherwise would have no means, or nowhere, to share their work.And when I say work - I
mean work bloody hard! I was lucky enough to receive the first ever ‘FOUNDation’ award for my
play ‘Flushed’. I had just come out of university and had no money, and no idea of how to get my
work seen. I sent my play into 53Two - best thing I’ve ever done! I was very quickly invited in for
a coffee and a chat. Where I was told that based on the quality of the writing, the initiative I had
shown, and the subejct matter I was working to promote, 53Two wanted to award Theatre
Unlocked (the company I run with my friend Elis) the first ever ‘FOUNDation’ award. This meant
that they would work with us to produce the play, and work with us they did! They helped us with
set (even sourcing toilets and glueing tiles to the floor!), significantly discounted venue hire,
promotion for the play, free rehearsal space, and were a general helping hand throughout;
Everything was done with a smile. I have since managed to take the play to Underbelly at the
Edinburgh Fringe, and to the Barbican in London this coming April and I owe MASSES of this to
53Two; there is no other scheme like this in Manchester. 53Two are the heartbeat of the
Manchester theatre scene."
"I have visited 53two a number of times and have been very impressed with the shows and the
venue. The staff are always welcoming. The venue is so unusual with the wonderful arches.
53two gives the people of Manchester theatre experiences at affordable prices."
"Where do I start?! From working in collaboration with 53two to promote the incredible talent of
actors, writers and directors that have produced shows at 53two, via my chat show on local
Manchester TV, to being an audience member at these incredible shows, to being a guest at
organised events there, to being on stage there as an actor at 53two; this venue means the world to
me as a creative in Manchester. The support and unity of the theatre community here in Manchester
is vital, and this venue has given us the space and facilities to bring that community together.
53two promotes, produces, houses and celebrates what new theatre in Manchester is all about.
Us Manchester creatives would be lost without this venue! It’s a big part of the theatre community
family. The productions I see, and work with, at 53two continues to inspire me in my own work, and
it’s a wonderful hub for us creatives to meet and support each other."
"As an observer 53 two has been at the fore front of the Manchester theatre scene in many ways,
I have watched them support and nurture new talent, give opportunities to individuals as well as
organisations, all with out any help from backers. I have also witnessed some of the best theatrical
experiences there. Their version of #glass house was probably one of the best pieces I’ve seen in
any theatre. I hope they get the support they need to continue to champion the theatre community."
"I have seen many excellent productions at 53two and they have all been of very high quality.
I also had my 50th birthday party at the venue and the staff went above and beyond to make sure
that the party was a success,they are wonderful!"
"53two has been a wonderful addition to Manchester’s arts scene. It should be supported in its
search for a new home as it provides a valued facility for theatre."
"Since graduating from drama school in 2016 and deciding to pursue a career in other elements of
theatre, other than performing, I’ve become familiar with a variety of fringe theatres. Whether it be
working in a box office/marketing capacity, working as a creative on a play, or as an audience member
- 53two is the best fringe theatre I’ve ever encountered. Their team is endlessly dedicated
to the productions they invite to play in their arches, and in their own fine productions. They’ve
become an indispensable arts hub in Manchester, evidenced by established production companies
wanting to become part of the 53two family. Their professionalism in delivering the highest
standard of entertainment is second to none. There is no ask too much for them to accommodate.
I’ve seen a diverse array of material being presented at the theatre, and it has all been of the highest
standard. Beyond that, programs such as their FOUNDation, MAP Rep Company and on-site acting
classes are doubtless of the best professional standard. Their chief executive has said in the past
that “fringe” does not have to mean lacking in values. That just because the theatre that is
presented away from the commercial sector, the kind of theatre that does not share the same
advantages of funds and resources as you might find in publicly subsidised arts organisations, or
those with rich benefactors, that does not mean that fringe theatre has to be any the less in quality.
That thought pervades every inch of 53two. The quality, the care, the attention, the blood, sweat
and tears of the people who run this venue is evident in their output. It would not be an
exaggeration to say that if 53two were to cease their operations, then Manchester would lose it’s
finest arts venue. I cannot recommend this team enough."
"As someone who relocated to the North recently. 53Two gave me my first job back up here as a
director. I’m eternally grateful to Simon, Alex and the team for taking chances on new artists and
providing platforms for people who are trying to make a living in this overly saturated industry.
Their training program MAPlatform is a credit to the amazing tutors they bring in and I have had
the pleasure of directing some of these members proving to me the training is current and
demanding. Their own in house productions have also set a benchmark for theatre makers on the
fringe circuit. If Hope Mill has musicals covered then 53Two has the straight drama box ticked. The
recent production of The Glasshouse was outstanding and happily competed with other theatres
who are an NPO. I hope 53Two gets the funding it so richly deserves to grow and prosper. This
place and the people who run it are making important changes and advancements."
"A recent convert to the arches means I have enjoyed a wide variety of shows and open events. The
environment is friendly and welcoming. The use of the space is original and surprising. The overall
factor about 53Two and the residents is the bringing together of many local artists and their
enthusiastic audience. In a time of measured funds this company has given a great arena for those
wanting to share and develop their pieces for future consideration. I have especially enjoyed
resident shows such as The Glasshouse and returning groups such as JB Shorts and Manc Made
Official. The company richly deserves acknowledgement for their championing of local artists, creative
teams and Northern stories. If you’re looking for the Northern Powerhouse - it’s 53Two and
those performing within it’s walls."
"Great arts space with a lovely vibe. Seem some great theatre here with a varied and imaginative use
of the space. A lot of opportunity for new writing and chance to hear a wide range of voices
portrayed. A really valuable asset to the vibranthub that is the current Manchester Theatre scene."
"I think that it is important to support the performing arts and I consider 53two to be a place that
"I’ve been writing down south for a good few years, but when I moved back up to Manchester it was
like starting again. I am SO greatful I found 53two. They really do feel like the beating heart of the
indie theatre scene here and through their warmth and encouragement I now feel very much a part
of the creative community in this incredible city. The greatest thing though, is that 53Two truly
believe theatre is for everyone. Both in the creating and watching. (Their £2 ticket scheme for the
unemployed is an awesome idea - one that should be adopted nationwide.) Completely and
absolutely. This is a place where all are welcome."
"This is an incredible venue, ran by amazing people. The events they put on have helped bring
otherwise ‘buried’ stories and perspectives to light for the people of Manchester to not only enjoy,
but engage in. I won the award for Best Actor, during their most recent M.A.P 48hr film contest,
this allowed me to meet with casting directors and many other people within the entertainment
industry. It also gave me a very slick short film to show to potential jobs. The work they do within
the city is second to none, I struggle to think of other theatres that have set such a strong
precedent of community engagement and enrichment."
"53Two gave me the confidence that I can be an actor. It opened up new friendships and a whole
new community of theatre and the people within it which is now solidly part of my life and my identity.
The staff are so supportive, the audiences are so loyal and the whole place is such a brilliant,
forward-thinking venue which makes you feel part of something bigger and like you can have an
"This is an amazing small theatre for the people and is affordable for all. 53two put on amazing
productions and because it is affordable, attracts those people who normally can’t afford to visit the
theatre. The staff are professional and always make everyone welcome. Brilliant night out.
"53Two, to put it simplily has changed my life. I originally fell through the doors of the arches after
tracking down a wonderful teacher I had once seen work, and wanted to be taught by her, 53two
were able to make this possible, as she teaches an acting for screen course there, which is of a
VERY high industry standard. I am midway through, having just started the 2nd level of 3, but have
also been given the chance to repeat the first level, FOR FREE. You don’t get those chances
anywhere... as well as this training pushing my career and giving me the fundamental tools I need to
make it in the crazy industry, I’ve also made a wonderful life long friend, who has changed my life.
Along with connecting with friends mostly new, but one or two old that are doing the course - or
that are connected to 53Two in some way. This aside, my eyes have seen one or two fantastic
productions, and my ears have heard of many money either by people that have watched, or people
that have performed. I was only talking yesterday to a friend about how accessible the ticket prices
are, against other theatres in the city centre or even outside the city centre and the quality you get
is just second to non. I am yet to take part in a production, but I hope the opportunity will arise
soon. And like for like with the courses that are offered, some of them you just can’t get anywhere
else - and even the ones you can.. the cost and quality for what you get are just miles ahead
anything I’ve come accross, anywhere else before - and I’m not new to this crazy game! And then,
there is the social events!!! Back in November I attended a ‘Lady’s night’ organised by Alex, I had the
time of my life, such a good vibe, great entertainment, brilliant nextworking opportunities if you
seek them and lots of laughs with one, what felt like one big group of friends, or one big family. And
that’s what we are, a tribe of like minded people, that are also open to everyone else - far and wide.
I think the word I used most in this, is opportunity- and that’s what 53Two is, a wonderful bundle of
opportunity to a whole range of people, a safe space to play, learn and enjoy without fear of j
udgment. 53Two, thank you for opening not only your doors, but your heart to me, wherever you go
and whatever the next stage of the journey will be, I back you, and I will follow."
"53Two puts on some amazing productions for affordable prices, meaning more people are able to
experience theatre. The Glasshouse is one of the most insane, heartbreakingly beautiful pieces of
theatre I have ever had the pleasure to see and 53Two was the perfect place to have it as they
understand that theatre doesn’t have to be on a massive stage, sometimes it can be intimate with
a small audience and that can make you feel part of something special."