ART & MUSIC EVENT NEWS: Opal’s Comet – waterborne artwork using visual theatre and song to explore grief announces UK tour in North of England

Arts-producing organisation Mr Wilson’s present visual theatre and song project Opal’s Comet, the canal-based production conceived and written by Sonya ‘Boo’ Moorhead. Opal's Comet is a journeying song cycle, touring from late August to late November 2022, along the UK’s inland waterways and is performed from a canal boat.


…I saw the boat arriving in the distance, I could see the colours and then I heard the sound; it was just beautiful, very moving.” Rachel Hawthorn – Burnley Leisure Trust

This Autumn, Opal’s Comet will partake in an outdoor performance tour of the North of the UK

Locations and dates

28th-29th August – Burnley Canal Festival
24th-25th September – Littleborough Arts Festival
9th October – Leeds City Centre presented by Canal Connections
14th-15th October- Manchester City Centre presented by HOMEMcr/ Manchester Folk Festival
26th Oct- 6th Nov (2-3 day during this fortnight period tba)- Liverpool area- Sefton to Bootle presented by Canal and River Trust
18th-19th November- Wigan Light Night

All performances are free to the public.

Drawing on creation myths and oral storytelling tradition, Opal’s Comet is a tragic, short story written by Mr Wilson’s Artistic Director Sonya ‘Boo’ Moorhead. In response to recent global and personal events, the story was rewritten in 2021 and takes an allegorical form. It questions how we might navigate personal grief, loss and transformation as, globally, we veer towards social collapse and climate crisis.

Sonya ‘Boo’ Moorhead says “In 2020 and 2021 our families and communities experienced so much sadness and loss. Mr Wilson’s is known for colourful, musical celebrations but not everyone is ready to jump back into that. This year we have created something exceptionally beautiful and hopeful; Opal’s Comet meets people on their own terms, in their own neighbourhood and offers time and space to reflect.”

The Opal’s Comet tour is a way to present this epic and hopeful story within the local landscape. Artist Steve Gumbley, assisted by Andy Plant, was commissioned to visualise and create a sculptural response to the Golden Barge, which will be transported along the canal for each performance.

Night Sings To Winter” is part of the Opal’s Comet song cycle

Mr Wilson’s is a celebrated arts-producing organisation based in Burnley. The collective of musicians who will perform the Opal’s Comet song cycle for Mr Wilson’s are: Sonya ‘Boo’ Moorhead as singer songwriter and director (Artistic Director, Mr Wilson’s and singer songwriter, The Greyhounds), John Ellis on piano (The Greyhounds, The Breath, Cinematic Orchestra) and Sarah Dale on cello (The Greyhounds, Stella Parton, Little Sparrow). Rachael Gladwin on harp (Guy Garvey, Corinne Bailey Rae) is also joining the line-up for the Burnley and Manchester performances.

Opal’s Comet offers audiences and participants the opportunity to slow down and take stock, to celebrate shared values; pay homage to those we’ve lost and discuss how we might navigate a new future.

The journey of Opal’s Comet can also be accessed and followed remotely via live social media broadcasts, podcasts and other digital documentation of the artwork, music and journey. For more information and links see the official web page.

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