A tantalising glimpse of an intangible truth

Brisbane Festival
★★★★   “Brunel meets Dante in this spellbinding spectacle”
(The Telegraph)
★★★★   “A remarkable piece of work”
(Financial Times)

Zenobia, a city of joy. Beersheba, a celestial city of gold. Isadora, a city of promise, seduction and desire. City by unseen city, the young explorer conjures from the ether a vast and spectacular empire – all for the benefit of its emperor, his master, who may never get to see it for himself…

Leo Warner, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Lolita Chakrabarti, 59 Productions and Rambert bring to life a series of fantastical places in this world-premiere production. Centred on the edgy relationship between Kublai Khan, the volatile head of a vast empire, and explorer Marco Polo, who must transcend a language barrier to describe it for him, this spellbinding mix of theatre, choreography, music, architectural design and projection mapping imagines a succession of alternative worlds – and reimagines what is possible in live performance.


Developing the Design Approach

Venue and Staging Design




“A phantasmagorical production of Italo Calvino’s fantastical travelogue is an inspired international festival project… Set in a huge disused and near derelict rail station, Invisible Cities becomes less a play, more a staged sculpture… quietly profound”


“Invisible Cities is an interrogation of humanity through the medium of cities.” That is a conversation pertinent across the globe, certainly not least in fast-changing Manchester.

The Guardian

“Those behind the production have managed to create something that cannot be defined by genre… a flawless and immersive piece of theatre”

Manchester Evening News

“Invisible Cities is a mesh of contemporary dance, projections, spectacular staging and a thumping score set within the imposing Mayfield building. This Manchester International Festival world premiere is a mesmerising production, an intercontinental adventure for the Game of Thrones generation“

Northern Soul

“In a feat of production design, the stage – around which the audience, like compass points, is divided into four distinct phalanxes – morphs from throne room to temple, encampment to shopping mall, and even to a Venetian canal, complete with water, gondola and bridge.”

The Guardian

“The setting, rusted and crumbling, but sturdy, is magnificent.”

The Times




Leo Warner

Executive Producer

Anna Jameson

Stage Designer

Jenny Melville

Video Designer

Nicol Scott

Associate Stage Designer

Claudia Fragoso

Assistant Video Designers

Hanna Schrage
Matthew Taylor

Studio Coordinator

Kate Stanley


Jamie McComb
Tom Munday
Jarek Radecki
Edd Stockton
Lawrence Watson


Jenn Reynolds PR

Behind the Scenes DOP & Editor

Jessie Rodger



Leo Warner

Co-Director & Choreographer

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui


Lolita Chakrabarti

Concept & Design

59 Productions



Kublai Khan

Danny Sapani

Marco Polo

Matthew Leonhart


Dustin O’Halloran & Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie of
A Winged Victory for the Sullen

Stage Designer

Jenny Melville

Video Designer

Nicol Scott

Costume Designer

Laura Hopkins

Lighting Designer

Fabiana Piccioli

Sound Designer

Gareth Fry

Casting Director

Sam Jones CDG

Creative Advisor

Benoit Swan Pouffer

Assistant Director

Rebecca Hanbury

Produced by

Manchester International Festival, 59 Productions, Rambert and Karl Sydow.

Commissioned by

Manchester International Festival, Brisbane Festival, Hong Kong New Vision Arts Festival, Sadler’s Wells, SMG Live, Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Cultural Centre (JACC) and Karl Sydow.