Transform, Leeds’ international performance festival has today announced the final wave of Transform 21-22, a reimagined festival for our times.
The festival will presents a series of ambitious world premieres and productions taking place in iconic venues in Leeds, alongside unusual and disused spaces. This year, they will bring a world premiere and four UK premieres, as well as other surprises.
Between 10-11 March, Transform teams up with Belgian arts centre CAMPO to present the UK premiere of The History of Korean Western Theatre at Leeds Playhouse, a documentary theatre performance, interweaving the personal and the political from South Korean theatre maker and composer Jaha Koo. Celebrating the centenary of Korean theatre in 2008, Jaha Koo realised that what is regarded as Korean theatre is largely determined by the Western canon and asks questions about tradition, self-censorship and authenticity. In order to speak to a new generation of South Koreans, Jaha attempts to smash age-old traditions of self-censorship and look to the future.
Between 18-19 March Transform presents the UK premiere of Ivorian choreographer Nadia Beugré’s Quartiers Libres at The Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre. Roughly translated as “free reign”, Beugré’s deeply emotive solo performance takes over the stage with breathless, raw energy, startling in its immediacy and unnerving imagery. In a fight with a world willing to bury her, piles of empty plastic bottles and Nadia’s body start to amalgamate, merge, and melt. By blurring the lines between the performer and audience, Nadia transcends the stage, tangled in endless microphone cable, and surrounded by mountains of waste. Becoming trapped within herself and her surroundings, she struggles to reach out to the humanity around her.
Overlooking the city on top of the Victoria Leeds Multi-Story carpark between 8-9 April, Mexican-Chilean choreographer Amanda Piña presents the UK premiere of Frontera I Border – a Living Monument. Frontera I Border has roots in a dance that emerged from the neighbourhood of El Ejido Veinte of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, on the border between Mexico and the United States. Performed by young people at risk from the extremely violent environment, this dance has continually evolved, seen as a form of resistance to colonial forces. By exploring a choreography of borders in which hip-hop culture, colonial tales, native practices and mysticism intertwine, Piña’s highly visual, poignant performance and monumental dance is a homage to the power and resilience of those whose bodies carry borders, to those who dare to cross. In a truly one-of-a-kind presentation, the UK premiere of Frontera I Border – a Living Monument will be presented at dusk.
At the end of March, Rachel Mars will present FORGE. In 2014, the 100kg ‘welcome’ gate was stolen from Dachau concentration camp. A local blacksmith made a replica, exactly like the original. This Spring, Rachel will make an exact replica of the replica gate across three days, out of 60kg of mild steel whilst audiences watch. Examining how objects become contaminated by history, FORGE explores who memorials are for and what happens to places where traumatic events take place. Featuring a sound-scape created live by sound artist Dinah Mullen, audiences are invited as witnesses as the artist welds over three days within the epic proportions of new experimental Leeds venue, Testbed. There will be daily long table discussions at nearby gallery The Tetley, inspiring artists and activists to explore the complex themes of memorial, grief and social responsibility. FORGE runs 31 March – 2 April.
Jamal Gerald will present the World Premiere of JUMBIE, a ritual for our sickened times. Rooted in the history and culture of Montserrat, the Jumbie dance calls on the spirits of the dead to cure illness, solve personal problems, and redress social injustice. It is traditionally a night of feasting and music in which anything might happen which was subsequently suppressed by colonial forces and the Christian Church. JUMBIE revives the traditional dance from a contemporary queer perspective. The performance is led by Gerald alongside a Black queer ensemble. The night promises to be one of sensual revelry – part ritual, part sex club, part dance party. JUMBIE runs at CLAY: Centre for Live Art Yorkshire 17-19 March and is a Transform and Dudaan co-production.
Inclusive, Brazilian based collective MEXA blur the lines between the scripted and the unpredictable, between the demands of the past and the urgencies of the present. Their online performance the more you rehearse, the worse it gets is an attempt to collectively build an artwork confined to a limited time frame and is an electric, unfiltered presentation of process and performance. Audiences can experience the chaotic and mesmerising world of MEXA as part of an online watch party on 10 March at 7pm, or engage with the experience ‘on demand’ online until Sat 12 March.
Transform have also announced a programme of vivid and engaging special events curated with local and international collaborators and will present a series of hyper-local residencies and kickstarts exciting new collaborations, which audiences can engage with via the Transform website and which will later be unveiled as part of Transform 23.
Amy Letman, Creative Director of Transform says:
“The final wave of our extended festival Transform 21-22 looks to the future, inviting audiences across the North of England and beyond to join us for a programme that is as reflective and cathartic as it is epic and celebratory. We invite artists, audiences and citizens to join us in acts of hope and bravery. To travel with us to see panoramic views of the city, to experience collisions of artforms and perspectives; to remember with us, to revel with us, to dance with us. Featuring epic new shows, explosive events and contemplative encounters by extraordinary artists from the UK, Brazil, Mexico, Europe, the USA and beyond – join us in imagining what a festival of the future might look and feel like, and be part of Transform 21-22.”