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The Nico Project

Maxine Peake is magnificent.

Survivor. Muse. Creator. Destroyer.  One of pop culture’s most original female artists, Nico has long remained one of its most enigmatic.

After an early career as actor and muse for filmmakers such as Fellini and Warhol, German-born Christa Päffgen blazed onto the American music scene like a meteor. Her 1967 debut with The Velvet Underground spawned one of rock’s most enduring works, but rather than becoming devoured by the New York arts scene she risked it all, shunned the limelight and dedicated the years until her premature death creating a body of work that was pioneering and marginalised, but all hers.

The Nico Project opens the line between Nico’s potent imagination and us, and commands from the shadows a figure who should never have been consigned to it.

Inspired by her stark, innovative 1968 album The Marble Index, performer Maxine Peake (Black Mirror, Shameless) and director Sarah Frankcom (Artistic Director of Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre)—alongside 15 female musicians from Australia and the UK—lead this exhilarating exploration into the world of female creativity and its devastating cost in a field dominated by men.

View the program →

PHOTOS | Jon Shard


The Observer

Hypnotically beautiful.


★★★★ Maxine Peake gives a beautifully calibrated performance.

Maxine Peake
Sarah Frankcom
Anna Clyne
E.V. Crowe
Imogen Knight
Lizzie Clachan
Lighting Design
Paule Constable
Sound Design
Helen Atkinson


  • Presenting Partner
  • Funded by donations from the
  •  MIAF | Patrons Circle

Commissioned by Melbourne International Arts Festival, Manchester International Festival and the Royal Court.

Produced by Manchester International Festival.

The Marble Index, words & music by Christa Paeffgen © 1968 Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp (BMI), all rights reserved. Used with kind permission from Warner/Chappell Music Ltd.