20th February 2019

Transform 19 to ignite the city with trailblazing performance, bringing an international festi-val exploring everything from power and pop culture to culture clashes and identity politics

FESTIVAL DATES: Friday 26 April – Saturday 4 May 2019

Rewire Leeds – machina eX (Germany) | An Atypical Brain Damage – Tianzhuo Chen (China) | When It Breaks It Burns – coletivA ocupação (Brazil) | What We’re Made Of – Future Radicals (UK) | Idol – Jamal Gerald (UK) | bYOB – 70/30 Split (UK) | All Inclusive – Julian Hetzel (Nether-lands/Germany) | Oh Europa – Action Hero (UK) | Performing Britain – Live Art Bistro/Jija Sohn (Japan/Netherlands/UK) | MDLSX – Motus (Italy) | Fashion Smash-Up – Danny Banany (Germany) | Daimón – Luis Garay (Argentina/Colombia) | #Punk – nora chipaumire (Zimbabwe/USA)

“Urgent and of the moment” Yorkshire Post
“Ripping up the rule book” BBC News

Transform returns with a powerful international performance festival, its most ambitious edition yet, present-ing a programme of daring theatre, dance, parties and adventures. The festival fuses explosive new commis-sions with UK premieres from artists spanning five continents, bringing together everyone from first time community performers to renowned international names for a festival that pushes boundaries and borders.

The festival will takeover some of the city’s most iconic venues and disused spaces, with a programme of innovative and pioneering world and UK premieres. This year’s Festival Centre is an ambitious television stu-dio takeover in partnership with Prime Studios. A former school hall in the heart of the city centre will host a vivid performance charting the stories of student protests in Brazil in Where It Breaks It Burns. A major warehouse takeover will see audiences immersed in large-scale pop opera spectacle in An Atypical Brain Damage. The city will be a playground for performance and interactivity – offering the chance to participate in an urban, digital adventure in Rewire Leeds or to jump into a motorhome in Oh Europa and reimagine the ways we think about Europe, by singing a love song.

Amy Letman, Transform Creative Director, said: “Transform 19 brings together some of the most game-changing artists from across Leeds and the globe, to ask both how we perceive and are seen by the world to-day. From culture clashes to gentrification, identity politics and activism – this collection of performances and events consider who already has power, and who needs power next. Transform 19 is the next step in an adven-ture to create a fearless international performance festival for Leeds.”

Festival highlights include the world premiere of interactive mobile phone adventure game Rewire Leeds from German theatre and tech collective machina eX which will see hundreds of players across Leeds become special agents to protect the city. The UK premiere of An Atypical Brain Damage will see one of the most exciting and challenging artists of our time, Bejing based and former student of University of Leeds Tian-zhuo Chen stage an immersive pop opera that is part club, part performance and part culture clash. Young voices and the world today are a strong festival focus with the UK premiere of When It Breaks It Burns, from Brazilian theatre company coletivA ocupação who will take over an old school hall in a mix of dance, live music and performance, exposing the real-life stories and brutal intensity behind Brazil’s high school occupations of 2015 and 2016.

Transform’s young people’s collective Future Radicals, an eclectic group of musicians, spoken word poets, comedians, designers and singers from across Leeds, stage What We’re Made Of, a series of performances and social experiments exploring their identities and relationship to the world today. A strong feature of Transform 19 is freshly commissioned and produced work, and Transform presents two world premieres by Northern based artists. In Idol, Jamal Gerald combines African diasporic ritual, music and storytelling to take a daring and spiritual journey through religion, pop culture and Black representation, asking who would you rather pray to, Beyonce or white Jesus? Female performance duo 70/30 Split premiere new work bYOB, re-flecting on the rise of nationalism and mob mentality as four men grapple with their roles in the performance and the world.

Transform commission Oh Europa is a new collection of works by Action Hero that span a continent, re-imagining the ways we think about Europe. Oh Europa includes an installation, guided tours, a 20 hour deep listening party and performance, RadiOh Europa, and is inspired by a six month, 32,000km drive across 33 European countries. A special event with Leeds based Live Art Bistro reflects on Performing Britain, their 24-hour live art marathon of over 30 performances, coinciding with the UK’s planned departure from the EU on 29 March. To mark the event, Live Art Bistro and Transform have commissioned artist Jija Sohn to re-develop her rollercoaster solo performance Tamago, which takes the audience through the real, the virtual and the kitsch in a study of madness and loneliness. In the UK Premiere of All Inclusive, Julian Hetzel continues his critical research on warfare by confronting the aestheticisation of violence. During a questionable tour through an imaginary museum, Hetzel places art next to war, tourists next to refugees, and connects re-ality with imagination.

In the UK Premiere of MDLSX by Italy’s acclaimed experimental theatre company Motus, fiction and autobi-ography collide in an explosive investigation of gender and identity – all presented as an electric monologue and DJ set. Meanwhile, rock, reggae, Patti Smith and African Dance collide in one of two international dance performances, #Punk by New York based, Argentina born Nora Chipaumire who explores punk’s rejection of the status quo and considers that there is no future, that the future is in the present. Daimón by Luis Garay and performer and Taekwondo artist Maia Chigioni is a performance that transcends dance and ath-leticism as one woman fights alone with an invisible opponent with power and endurance.

For younger Transform fans, German artist Danny Banany is presenting a fun-filled and free Fashion Smash-Up workshop. Those aged 8-12 will be invited to create a fantastical outfit from recycled clothes then light up the catwalk.

James Brining, Artistic Director of Leeds Playhouse, said: “The Playhouse is proud to have supported and championed Transform Festival over the last eight years. What began as a smaller-scale exploration of experi-mental new work is now a landmark moment in the cultural life of the city and the wider North. As it’s grown, the festival has retained the core values on which it was built – adventure, innovation and urgent artistic enquiry. We can’t wait to see how the festival continues to grow.

Ruth Pitt, chair of the Leeds 2023 Trust, said: “Transform has grown into a truly international event which at-tracts artists from around the world to Leeds for a bold and innovative celebration of creativity and artistic invention.

“The festival not only makes an ambitious statement about culture in Leeds, its programme also brings our communities together while supporting and nurturing the next generation of theatrical talent. We’re exceptionally proud to be supporting Transform and excited to be working alongside the organisers as we continue to build what will be a dynamic and unique programme for Leeds 2023.”

The thumping heart of Transform 19, the television studio takeover and Festival Centre at Prime Studios, will include aftershow talks and salons, power brunches, discussions and anarchic after parties every night of the festival.

Transform Festival ColetivA