Phil Collins

Ceremony: The Return of Friedrich Engels

Part of “MARX200 / Politics – Theory – Socialism”



60 min

The Russian Revolution took place in 1917, in a country exhausted by the First World War. The event shaped the political landscape of the 20th century. But it was in Manchester—the world’s first industrial city—not in Imperial Russia that the idea of communism was born. Friedrich Engels, co-founder of communist theory with his friend Karl Marx, lived in Manchester for more than 20 years. His seminal work The Condition of the Working Class in England is a searing indictment of early capitalism’s ruthlessness and exploitation based on his observations of Manchester’s slums, child labour, environmental devastation, and the indignity of workers’ lives.

The award-winning artist Phil Collins returns to HAU Hebbel am Ufer with the German premiere of his film "Ceremony". Last summer he returned Engels home to Manchester, in the form of a decommissioned Soviet-era statue which he brought from Ukraine and inaugurated in the city centre as a permanent monument. Over the course of a year, Collins collaborated with local organisations, activists and communities to explore Engels’ legacy in austerity Britain and the lives of workers today. Collins describes Ceremony as ‘the search for a statue of Engels and its long journey, the everyday stories of people from Manchester, and a homecoming party to inaugurate the statue’.

At the inauguration a crowd of thousands gathered to take part in a live event which included short films, scripted performances, a  soundtrack by Demdike Stare and Mica Levi, a new workers’ anthem by Gruff Rhys, and Engels Exchange — a one-day transformation of the ‘privately owned public space’ into a realm of shared ideas, experience and the kind of good time which Engels loved. 

A film interweaving different strands of the project was broadcast on the BBC as part of a season marking the centenary of the Russian Revolution. In harrowing times for so many Engels’ insights correlate to our contemporary situation with an alarming accuracy, making it crucial more than ever to remember the spirit of solidarity and dignity which beat at the heart of his work. 

Phil Collins: why I took a Soviet statue of Engels across Europe to Manchester The Guardian, 30.6.2017


Written and directed by: Phil Collins / Voice of Engels: Maxine Peake / With: Channelle Baugh, Nadia Everett, Sharon Henry, Rosemaria Flynnie, Judy Vickers, Julie Boyle, Bethany Goulding, Borhan Mohammadi, Mark O’Pray, Melissa Booth, Roy Booth, Dave Roberts, Vickie Cooper, David Whyte, Reiner Rhefus / "Ceremony" Performers: Carla Henry, Sharon Smith, Simon Will, Susanne Sachsse, Sanja Mitrović, Lianne Sommers, Reece Fox, Caitlin Harkin, Ayoub Mouthadi, Omayma Mouthadi, Ryan Scholes / Steadicam Operators: Rob Beck, Ivan Hinchley / Drone Operators: Andreas Dalström, Gregory Chivers / Colourist: Chris Rodgers / Online Editor: Laurence Thripp / Dubbing Mixer: Nas Parkash / Production Assistant: Ale Bachlechner / Executive Producer for BBC: Emma Cahusac / Live Music: Demdike Stare und Mica Levi / Editor: David Charap / Producers: Siniša Mitrović, Natasha Dack Ojumu / ‘Communism’s Coming Home’ Text and Performance: Gruff Rhys / Background Singers: Cate Le Bon, Jane Weaver, Una Baines / Drummer: Kliph Spurlock


  • Past
    German premiere
    Sat 5.5.2018, 20:00 / HAU1


Co-commissioned by Manchester International Festival, HOME, Manchester, 14-18 NOW and the BBC.

Produced by Manchester International Festival, HOME, Manchester, Shady Lane Productions and Tigerlily Productions.

Supported by Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence, the Henry Moore Foundation and My Festival Circle. 


Stresemannstr. 29, 10963 Berlin

There are two marked parking spots in front of the building. Access to the Parkett by means of a separate entrance with lift when necessary. Barrier-free restroom facilities are available. Wheelchair users are kindly requested to register their attendance at least one day before the performance. Thank you for your understanding. If you need help, please contact our Ticketing & Service team at +49 (0)30 259004-27 or send us an email to

HAU3000 / Positions, Projects, Publications

The Glowing Room

Text by Hendrik Otremba.

An Introduction to “Collectivize Facebook”

By Jonas Staal

“Collectivize Facebook” is a lawsuit aimed to turn Facebook into public property, initiated by artist Jonas Staal and lawyer Jan Fermon. Read here Staal’s introduction to the project.

“Manifestos for Queer Futures”

Video Documentation

As part of the festival “The Present Is Not Enough – Performing Queer Histories and Futures”, HAU initiated an open call for artists based in Berlin, who were invited to submit proposals for their Manifestos for Queer Futures.