Since he arrived, James Brining has set about making sea changes at West Yorkshire Playhouse. His philosophy, I believe, can be summed up with a simple idea – his efforts have been aimed at making the theatre more porous.
Some of the groundwork for this mission statement was done for Brining before he arrived by a brilliant festival of new work called Transform.
Led by the determined young producer Amy Letman, Transform aimed to open up the doors of the Playhouse to theatre makers at a developing stage of their careers. Letman has big ideas. The model works, it’s been a success, now she wants to build on that and this year’s festival – running from April 30 to May 2 will have a different feel with the focus on inviting artists and audiences to join the conversation about how the event will develop in the future.
Transform 15’s opening night will unveil both the weekend’s activities and future plans and will also feature a film screening by Berlin-based choreographer Frank Willens charting his discoveries while recently developing a new project in Leeds. Bringing artists from West Yorkshire together with those from countries including Germany, Italy and Iran an International Residency marks the start of a new scheme involving the Playhouse and Yorkshire Dance. This pilot will be overseen by Leeds based-artist Oliver Bray and Lebanese theatre maker and activist Lucien Bourjeily, it culminates in a rough and ready sharing after four days cross-cultural collaboration.
A popular event at Transform, Feast, returns. It features food and conversation with local and international cuisine alongside speakers offering their perspective on the subject “What does it mean to be local and global in 2015 and beyond?”. The weekend closes with the Transform Party, an explosive art-party of immersive performance and encounters, music and celebration.
The real focus of Transform 15 involves the sharing of ideas, early stage workshop showings presented by Playhouse Associate Company RashDash, young Jamaican and Leeds-based performer Akeim Buck, the creators of previous Transform projects 9 and Open House Chris Goode and Company, Leeds-based artists Invisible Flock and New York composer and performer Heather Christian who will collaborate once again with Playhouse Associate Director Mark Rosenblatt.
These showings mark the beginning of Transform future projects being created for theatre venues and citywide, site-specific locations over coming years.
“Transform has become a central part of the Playhouse’s creative programme and integral to the offer of cutting edge performance works in Leeds,” says Brining. “This year’s repositioning and development of the festival comes at a very exciting time for the city particularly as discussions around European Capital of Culture develop, enabling Transform to instigate international collaborations that will have major impact across Leeds.”
• Opening Night, April 30, 7pm, including a short film screening by performer and choreographer Frank Willens; 8pm: International Residency Sharing; Feast: May 2, 2pm: ‘What does it mean to be local and global in 2015 and beyond?’ For more information and tickets, call 0113 2137700 or visit www.wyp.org.uk