We attended the launch of this year’s Transform festival this week, to see what Leeds’ West Yorkshire Playhouse had in store for their third outing of the event. Launched three years ago, the festival has brought a smorgasbord of talent to the city, in envelope pushing theatre, performance, dance and cabaret. We’ve attended each year, and within the schedules we’ve seen some real gems, and been introduced to some incredible new works and personalities.
This year the festival looks a little closer to home for it’s line up. Perhaps taking it’s inspiration from the celebrated Cultural Olympiad work The Quay Brothers brought to Leeds last year with Overworlds and Underworlds, Transform: My Leeds My City boasts a line up of theatrical works inspired by and taking place in and around Leeds. It aims to promote and celebrate Northern talent, with companies, directors, theatre artists and writers all from the area making the roll call.
So what’s in store? Our top picks include The Market, a performance based around Kirkgate Market, Leeds’ historic, 100 year old beast. Performed around the market itself, in a journey across the physical space and storytelling it’s characters and it’s secrets. We love a bit of ‘in situ’ theatre (nope, not sure of the proper word for that), and with the work created from interviews with over 100 people, featuring a character list that includes ‘Michael The Master Butcher’, and ‘Dancing Dean The Caribbean Cafe Man’, this is bound to be good. Another highlight looks set to be The Johnny Eck and Dave Toole Show, a piece that’s deliberately been left rather obscure in it’s description. Johnny Eck was an American freak show performer in the 1930, and Dave Toole is a dancer, who flew high above the Paralympic Opening Ceremony. The work, as far as we can tell, centres around old vs new – of the performers and of the city. One to add to the must see list for us.
Our final favourite pick is the The Cabaret Club - the annual extravaganza of burlesque, comedy, drag and acrobatics. We’ve attended this show each year and it’s been the highlight of the festival each time. We’re slightly miffed billing stalwarts Bourgeois and Maurice aren’t on the line up this year, but the bevy of Leeds talent that’s been secured in collaboration with the likes of The Wet Spot and Dr Sketchys means there’s plenty of talent to match the success of previous outings. Book ASAP for this one, it’ll sell out.
There’s a ton more stuff on (we’ve barely scratched the surface), which you can read all about here, and with the first 100 Golden festival tickets at just £25, with concessions available, there’s no excuse to not get involved with what’s set to be the best Transform yet.
Transform: My Leeds My City takes place 16 – 27 April 2013