Leftfield arts festival Transform announces biggest ever programme

A world premiere of new work by award winning physical theatre duo RashDash is the highlight of leftfield festival Transform’s 2017 programme taking over eight venues across Leeds.

The festival, which runs from 19 to 22 April and includes three world premieres and two UK premieres, as they use unusual sites including arts spaces, community centres and offbeat outdoor locations in their most ambitious festival to date

RashDash developed their work in Leeds at West Yorkshire Playhouse, so it is seems natural Transform would commission and produce their new piece, The Darkest Corners, as artists Abbi Greenland and Helen Goalen confront violence against women at a secret Holbeck location.

Their cabaret rally is inspired by Leeds’s radical activist history – and its role as the birthplace of the Reclaim the Night movement 40 years ago – featuring live music, vivid physicality and inter-generational community companies.

Showcasing international artists is key to the festival’s vision so after shaking up Transform 16 provocative European choreographers, Florentina Holzinger and Vincent Riebeek, return to Leeds to open this year’s festival. The duo will perform the UK premiere of their first ever group show, Wellness, billed as a dizzying mix of pop-culture, performance art and dance at the Riley Theatre, Northern School of Contemporary Dance.

Lessons of Leaking - machina eX. Transform 17

As the UK turns away from Europe, Transform have invited machina Ex, a group of Berlin-based media and theatre artists renowned for merging computer gaming, theatre and interactive installation, to make their UK debut with Lessons of Leaking exploring what Brexit will mean across the continent.

El Conde de Torrefiel bring Guerrilla, from Spain offering a dark comedy about the awakening of awareness feature over 50 local people on stage as the action unfolds in a dystopian future in three different cities including Leeds.

For the final night of Transform 17, members of the public will dance any woes away at Eurotopia, an extravagant art party and audio visual spectacle, curated by Live Art Bistro.

Central to Transform’s ethos is the celebration of boundary-pushing creatives based in Leeds and the North of England. Another co-commission is the world premiere of The Believers are but Brothers from Bradford-based writer and theatre-maker Javaad Alipoor.

This one-man show, first performed at Stage@Leeds, examines a generation of young men who find themselves burning with resentment, and how this crisis of masculinity leads them into an online world of fantasy, radicalisation, violence and reality.

Transform regular Selina Thompson is creating an ambitious new work, The Missy Elliott Project, which will see her cross two continents over the next three years to imagine what the world will look like for femmes after the revolution. This Transform commission begins in Leeds as she works with a group of teenagers in the city, and at the West Indian Centre Thompson will invite audiences to see early work in progress.

Yorkshire-based Grace Surman will perform on stage with her daughter in Mother Load at Yorkshire Dance, an uplifting and powerful choreographic work in two parts, reflecting upon relationships between parent and child.

The festival will also introduce new Leeds-based artists Sasha Foyster & Grace Hargreaves, winners of last year’s Lift Off and Transform Award, who will present early material examining what it means to be young, female, working class and living in Yorkshire today.

Transform Creative Director Amy Letman said “Transform 17 spans theatres, arts venues, community centres and secret outdoor locations – and presents some of the most relevant, visionary theatre creators from the North of England and across Europe.

“Whether you’re interested in dancing on stage in a show, joining a party or conversation, or just want to experience stories from Leeds and around the world – we wholeheartedly invite you to be part of this vivid festival.”

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Tickets for all Transform 17 events and performances are now available to view and buy online at www.transformfestival.org. The official Box Office provider is West Yorkshire Playhouse.

All words by Paul Clarke. 

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