Transfrom Theatre Festival





West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Transform Festival was a creative culmination of talents, a celebration of opportunity that reassured us that despite the recent cuts in grants the arts industry will continue to thrive. Since its first installation in 2010, Transform has embraced directors, theatre artists and writers to redefine and reminisce. This year the festival looked closer to home through its huge theatrical lens picking up an exciting mix of artists and companies from around Leeds enabling the audience to experience theatre and the city of Leeds like never before.

Leeds Market is that place where one expects to be the least entertained. But that was not the case when Transform kick-started on 16th of April. The Market, a performance based around Kirkgate Market walked us through its long history – of bombs, fires, commitments and changes – and of course, the stories of those who worked there, past and present. Needless to say, The Market was a masterly work paying homage to one of Leeds’ 100 year old treasured landmark.

For those adventurous audience members, there was Navigators. University of Leeds students and Invisible Flock, an interactive arts organization based in Leeds, worked together with Transform’s Associate Artist Andrew Whyment to create this masterpiece – a walking experience which explored the untold stories of the city and the paths we travel.

There were several other fantastic works of art – Johnny Eck and Dave Toole Show, Burmantofts Stories, The Rage Receptacle, The Cabaret Club – and also a three course meal interlaced with songs and speeches.

The festival concluded on 27th April, after long two weeks of surprise and delight. But looking back, one can only wonder if this was an attempt to push at the edges of practice and help re-imagine what theatre can look like and what it can do. If yes, then it could not have happened at a better time. For Maria Miller, the Secretary of State for Culture, needs something to point at to win us some art grants. And Transform 2013 is indeed that something.

This article was published in The Leeds Student Newspaper, University of Leeds in their May edition.

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