Part of MIF19


Produced by Manchester International Festival, Improbable and Royal Exchange Theatre

  • WORLD PREMIERE. Collaboration between Phelim McDermott and Philip Glass.
  • 11 July 2019 - 20 July 2019
  • The Theatre

An exploration of life, loss and a single question: Where does true inspiration come from?

Composer Philip Glass and performer-director Phelim McDermott (Improbable) have worked together on acclaimed opera productions in London, New York and beyond, and Tao of Glass is their most personal collaboration yet. Inspired by a dream, this world premiere marries ten meditations on life, death and Taoist wisdom with ten brand new pieces of music from Glass, presented by McDermott with an ensemble of musicians and puppeteers.

Part-concert, part-performance, Tao of Glass is a storytelling tapestry, soundtracked by Glass’s mesmerising music and shot through with Improbable’s trademark theatricality.


Commissioned by Manchester International Festival, Improbable, Perth Festival, Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen and Carolina Performing Arts – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Produced by Manchester International Festival, Improbable and the Royal Exchange Theatre.

Photo: Christian Sturm

  • Event Information
  • VENUE: The Theatre

    PERFORMANCE DATES: Thursday 11 July - Saturday 20 July 2019

    PERFORMANCE TIMES: Matinees, 2.30pm / Evenings, 7.30pm. Previews: 11, 12 and 13 July 
    View all times & dates

    RUNNING TIME: Approx. 2 hours and 30 minutes, which includes one interval of 20 minutes. 

    TICKET INFORMATION: Standard Tickets £15 - £41. Preview tickets £8 - £36.

    Concessions for Greater Manchester residents on a lower wage £10 - only available via MIF 

    View all Royal Exchange Theatre ticket prices

    PLEASE NOTE: May contain strong language

    BOOK TICKETS: Book Online or call the Box Office on 0161 833 9833 


    Members get Priority Booking for each season as well as for additional events. You can find out about Membership here.

    With your support, we can make brilliant theatre, tell stories, nurture new talent, and help as many people as possible get involved. 

  • Creative Team
  • COMPOSER Philip Glass


    CO-DIRECTOR Kirsty Housley

    DESIGNER Fly Designer

    LIGHTING DESIGNER Colin Grenfell

    SOUND DESIGNER Giles Thomas


    PUPPETEER David Emmings

    PUPPETEER Janet Etuk

    PERFORMER Phelim McDermott



    ENSEMBLE (VIOLIN) Rakhi Singh

    ENSEMBLE (PIANO) Katherine Tinker

    ENSEMBLE (PERCUSSION) Chris Vatalaro 

  • Accessible Performances
  • If you require our BSL, Audio Described or Captioned services, please book directly with Box Office. This is because there are often specific seats, which are held for each show to ensure you have the best experience possible,

    You can call on 0161 833 9833 or email at

    AUDIO-DESCRIBED PERFORMANCE: Saturday 20 July, 2.30pm

    BSL PERFORMANCE: Friday 19 July, 7.30pm

    CAPTIONED PERFORMANCE: Thursday 18 July, 7.30pm 

    RELAXED PERFORMANCE: Thursday 18 July, 2.30pm 

    Click here for more information about our accessible performances

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