Full programme announced for Transform 23

Full programme announced for Transform 23

Transform, the engine room for powerful performance in the north of England, has announced the full programme for the 2023 edition of their international performance festival. Returning to Leeds from 11–22 October, tickets for the full festival programme are on sale now.

The festival will see over 100 artists from all over the world – including Brazil, South Africa, Australia, Netherlands, Iceland, the UK – descend on Leeds this autumn, collaborating with local artists to bring extraordinary performances, that sit at the intersection of different artforms, to the north of England. 

Part of LEEDS 2023: Year of Culture, Transform 23 is a future-gazing festival that invites audiences and artists alike to contemplate how we might live differently, with a distinctive mix of bold, vivid and socially conscious performances staged in iconic city venues and unusual spaces throughout the city of Leeds. 

A few of the signature productions and world premieres are:

Based on hundreds of real-life secrets submitted by young people in Leeds and Reykjavik, artist Ásrún Magnúsdóttir, in collaboration with local Leeds-based performers, presents the world premiere of SECRETS. Australian company APHIDS draw on pop culture’s orphan tropes in the UK premiere of OH DEER! reflecting on personal and universal experiences of loss with an integrated cast from Leeds and Melbourne. A Transform co-commission.

Brazilian collective, MEXA, merge club culture with operatic vocals, 90s pop music and video in the UK premiere of Pumpitopera Transatlantica, a vivid reimagining of Homer’s Odyssey that draws on their individual, personal experiences to create an everyday epic. A Transform co-production.

In a test of physical endurance, an ensemble cast grapples with themes of life, death, hope and rebirth in the UK premiere of ONE SONG – a spectacular performance on an epic scale by prolific Belgian theatre maker Miet Warlop. Katy Baird provides a raw and unfiltered glimpse into the human desire for connection in the world premiere of Get Off, a Transform co-commission.

In addition to these fantastic premieres, there will be UK premieres as well:

Cherish Menzo and Camilo Mejía Cortes explore ways to detach their bodies from how they are perceived and the daily reality in which they move, in the UK premiere of (afro) futuristic dance show DARKMATTER. Based on real-life telephone conversations, theatre maker Nastaran Razawi Khorasani explores the invisible stories of an Iranian boy and girl living under dictatorship in the UK premiere of Songs for no one.

An evocative documentary theatre show on the world of deep sea mining – Out of the Blue – is the final part of Silke Huysmans and Hannes Dereere’s trilogy on the mining industry. Choreographer Chiara Bersani explores the politics of our access to nature in the UK premiere of SOTTOBOSCO, a gentle and evocative dance performance where sounds and gestures gradually evolve into a new form of language. 

Hannah Buckley, Hollie Miller and Craig Scott present their durational installation Blood Bone Breath bringing together movement, image and sound to prioritise softness, slowing down and cultivating deep listening. 

Guests can also enjoy special events during the festival:

Bridging experimental music and operatic performance, South African artist Desire Marea will present an experimental and operatic concert at Leeds Left Bank. In partnership with Leeds Night Night, the venue will be transformed with music, visuals and installation.

An epic club experience for the finale of Transform 23 CLUB ODYSSEY will feature DJs and performers from MEXA alongside explosive acts from across Leeds and beyond. Transform Happy Hour invites audiences to join the Transform team and festival artists for early evening drinks, conversation and the context behind this year’s programme.

Amy Letman, Creative Director of Transform says: ‘Transform 23 is our most ambitious festival yet bringing extraordinary performance, dance, theatre, club culture and public encounters to Leeds. Years in the making, we’ve been scouring the world for the most daring productions to bring to the north of England, whilst cooking up major new collaborations with creatives from across Leeds and the globe. From intimate encounters to epic spectacles on big stages – audiences are invited to see the city differently and engage with powerful performance by trailblazing international artists. In this continued age of uncertainty, Transform 23 gives pause to ponder everything from community and loss to nature and personal odysseys – intrepid artists offer brave and heartfelt perspectives on how we might live differently together in the future.’

Transform aims to conjure a new vision for international festivals – inclusive, sustainable, cocreated, local and global. Two productions which received early development at Transform 21-22 – MEXA’S Pumpitopera Transatlantica and Ásrún Magnúsdóttir’s SECRETS – will premiere as part of Transform 23. In recent years Transform has focused on collaborations with young people aged 16-21 – supporting the next generation of creatives and curators. This year, working in close collaboration with the Transform team, young curators have commissioned a major new co-created production with Ásrún Magnúsdóttir and programmed Silke Huysmans and Hannes Dereere’s Out of the Blue

Following the success of their ‘Pay What You Can’ ticketing pilot, which was trialled as part of the 21-22 festival, Transform is applying this pricing model across all events in this year’s festival. Ticket options range from £2-£25 with audiences invited to select the pricing level that best suits them as part of Transform’s commitment to inclusion and accessibility to allow more people to access festival events whatever their circumstances.

 Visit https://transformfestival.org/ to learn more.