Amy Letman, Associate Producer at West Yorkshire Playhouse, is getting giddy for this years Transform Festival at the end of March. Here's why.
"Here at West Yorkshire Playhouse, plans are fully under way for our fourth Transform Festival which runs this year from Thursday 27-Sunday 30 March. The festival was initiated by the Playhouse in 2011, and each year since, has continued to make the venue an exciting home for experimental theatre and adventurous collaborations.
In the spirit of its title, Transform shifts its identity and format each year. Last year our theme was ‘My Leeds, My City’ and with the support of Leeds Inspired, we took performances out into Leeds - to places like Leeds Market, Eastgate, and outside a tower block in East Leeds.
This year – our concept is essentially ‘one big weekend’ and we have tailored a plethora of performances, productions and events which start on the Thursday afternoon and run right up until Sunday night. Taking place throughout the entirety of the Playhouse and outside its doors - we’re inviting people to stay the whole day or weekend at Transform and to engage in a range of playful, provocative and exciting experiences. The programme itself is a mix – many of the shows we commission, working closely with the artists and companies to create and stage new productions from scratch. Others are works in progress of exciting new pieces which are also being developed at WYP. There are also performances by guest artists from across the UK – the very best contemporary, innovative and participatory work which we have cherry picked especially to perform at Transform. And in between the shows, a range of special and free performances and events often curated or presented by local artists, companies and musicians.
With over 15 shows and 50 performances across one weekend its really hard to choose a favourite, but here are just a few of my own highlights to get in your diary now:
IT BURNS IT ALL CLEAN
Leeds based performance artist Selina Thompson is taking over a secret location a short walk away from the theatre to present an immersive spectacle about ‘our minds and our societies unravelling’. Selina is an exciting local talent and I can’t wait to see this site-specific exploration which will look shrewdly and playfully at today’s unemployment system.
THE ALBEMARLE SKETCHBOOK
Returning to Transform after ‘Open House’ in 2011 and ‘9’ in 2012 – this early stage insight into an ambitious production by Chris Goode & Company, Albemarle, is about the dreams that we have and is created in collaboration with a brilliant team of practitioners from Leeds and the rest of the UK.
THE TRANSFORM VARIETY NIGHT
Our now infamous Saturday night at Transform is this year a collaboration with performance artist Scottee – and brings some of the worlds most amazing variety performers to the Courtyard Theatre at the Playhouse – with cabaret, hula hooping, aerialism and magic – this promises to be a great night out.
This is a sound journey in complete darkness – one of the most chilling and atmospheric encounters – not for those who are afraid of the dark…!
A free event presented by Subject to Change. Visitors to the Time Lab laboratory can quite literally deconstruct T I M E and transform an old or forgotten wristwatch into a piece of jewellery, sculpture or something altogether new. Bring your old watches!
ELLEN PRESENTS THE ‘GIN HOUSE’ TAKE OVER!
We’re excited to welcome Ellen of ‘Ellen and the Escapades’ on the Friday night with some of Leeds best local roots and blues musicians and for a free night of music front of house.
From full length shows and performances around WYP to a mix of special events and activities, these are just a few of my highlights and lots more. So come along for Transform weekend, I’d love to hear about what you’ve seen and what you thought."