Transform started life back in 2011 with a bold objective: to re-imagine what theatre can look like, what it can do and to ‘reflect the socially conscious and radical North’.

Initially set up by the West Yorkshire Playhouse, the annual Transform Festivals have taken place in the theatre itself and outside its doors in a range of sites and spaces in Leeds. Now Transform has now evolved into an independent organisation with a local and global outlook. Transform 16 builds on the previous five festivals – and you can find out for yourself how this event has transformed today and tomorrow.

Northern Soul spoke to Transform’s creative director Amy Letman to find out what’s in store.

NS: Can you tell me about how Transform is different this year and what audiences can expect?

AL: This is our first year as an independent company, and this year we are presenting a bite-sized weekend of performance. It’s a flavour of what is to come in 2017, including an exclusive sneak preview of exciting new projects by RashDash, Javaad Alipoor, and Tim Etchells. This year we have gone city-wide for the first time too, and audiences can expect performances at arts venues across Leeds and outdoor spaces across the city.

TransformNS: There is a lot happening in just one weekend. What are you most excited about seeing?

I’m excited about all of it of course! But the most unknown performance is definitely Wanted by Chris Goode and Company. There are 24 groups and individuals involved, each of whom has been asked the question “what do you most want to see on stage?” and all of the ideas are now in. At this stage we can still only imagine what the show will be like and how on earth all of these ideas might end up on stage.

I’m also incredibly excited to see the UK premiere of SCHÖNHEITSABEND [a beautiful evening] by provocative European choreographers Florentina Holzinger and Vincent Riebeek. I saw them in New York in January and was really excited by this work. They’ll be performing in Leeds on Saturday April 23rd at Northern Ballet’s Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre, in collaboration with Live Art Bistro.

NS: What hopes do you have for Transform as a festival in another five years’ time?

AL: I hope it is still programming international work, and bringing exciting performers and companies to Leeds, but also working with the local community, as we have always done. I really hope it continues to develop and grow and that Transform becomes one of the major festivals in the city. Leeds is also putting together its own bid for the 2023 European Capital of Culture and that is a really encouraging initiative for creative companies like Transform to support. I’d love to see Transform becoming a destination festival – a key place to see adventurous new work in the UK and beyond.

By Joanna Jowett


Transform Festival is on in Leeds, April 22 and 23, 2016