A white man looks at the screen, he has a beard and blue eyes. He is wearing a navy tshirt

Jonathan McGrath – Productions

Jonathan’s job is to support the development and delivery of all IOU productions and our learning programme. Artists make work in very different ways and need all sorts of different things to help them make an artwork, Jonathan is required to be able to continually shift and change as he help projects happen.

If you are looking to do an internship or project with IOU I would be your first port of call.

How long have you been with IOU and what has been your highlight?

I started with IOU a month before Covid 19 swept into town and changed all our lives. My story with IOU goes back a bit further though; in 2007 when IOU launched the Space, Time, Tools, Advice programme I was one of the first intake or artists that were supported, my time with IOU changed my approach to making and producing art projects and since then I have been a huge fan of the companies work. 

A highlight for me was only in Nov of this year sitting in the studio with my colleague’s Dan and Loui while David and Joanne were upstairs working; Covid 19 has kept us all at home for the majority of my time with the company and being in the building again getting ready to fill it up with new projects and artist residencies makes me very excited indeed.

Tell us about your professional journey before joining IOU?

I am a Theatre Director, Facilitator and Lecturer and have presented theatre events all over the world. I am an associate lecturer at several universities across the UK and supports many emerging theatre-makers in strategies for creating new performance work. I specialise in training actors for the somatic/psychological challenges that performance brings. 

My work is diverse in its style and presentation. My early career centred on site-specific/interactive theatre and work has evolved to directing large scale classical and contemporary productions, Opera and also small autobiographical solo projects. My projects are all highly collaborative and in recent years they have involved liberal dollops of new technology and AV incorporated into my work.

In 2017 I joined Arts Council England as Relationship Manager in Combined Arts there I was involved in supporting artists and NPO organisations assessing applications.  After leaving Arts Council England I spent one year as a Project Manager for the national outdoor arts commissioning body, ‘Without Walls’ supporting them with the transition into being a new NPO.’

Tell us about any stand out productions or exhibits you’ve experienced that left their mark on you?

In 2019 I was invited to direct/facilitate a new project for Manchester International Festival with Japanese artist collective ChimPom. Together with a team of young producers from Contact Theatre we created a working microbrewery in the tunnels underneath Manchester Victoria train station. The site is the location of a mass grave from the Cholera epidemic in the late 1800’s.

The artist’s research discovered that those who were spared from the illness did so by drinking ale instead of water, the process of boiling the water for brewing killed off the bug and saved lives, the project created our own brand of ‘Cholera Beer’. This project and all of its radical and quite dangerous component parts reflecting on the world-changing epidemic took on a whole new meaning in 2020 with the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

This project reminded me of all of the parts of contemporary theatre/art that I fell in love with in my youth when I virtually lived at greenroom Manchester.’