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International artists set to Transform Leeds

  • 25th April 2019
  • Posted by Leeds 2023

A thrilling programme of international artists are arriving in Leeds to take over spaces across the city during a captivating festival of theatre, dance and performance.

The spectacular Transform 19 festival begins Friday 26th April and will see Leeds landmarks and disused spaces become the stages for a daring and eclectic array of performance pieces from around the world.

And this year the event has joined forces with Leeds 2023 the city’s upcoming celebration of global arts and cultural life in Leeds. The innovative partnership will see the two organisations work together to bring Leeds the most ambitious and impressive festival Transform has ever realised.

Ruth Pitt, chair of Leeds 2023 Trust, said the event typifies the spirit of boldness and invention that will be at the heart of the Leeds 2023 programme.

She said: “Transform has grown into a truly international event which attracts artists from around the world to Leeds for a bold and innovative celebration of creativity and artistic invention.

“The festival not only makes an ambitious statement about culture in Leeds, it also brings our communities together while supporting and nurturing the next generation of theatrical talent.

“We’re exceptionally proud to be supporting Transform and excited to be working alongside the organisers as we continue to build what will be a dynamic and unique programme for Leeds 2023.”

Featuring UK premieres and artists from five continents alongside first time community performers, Transform19 aims to challenge perceptions of how we see the world.

Highlights this year will include the return to the city of former University of Leeds student Tianzhuo Chen, who today is considered one of the world’s most exciting contemporary artists.

The festival will see the UK premiere of his piece An Atypical Brain Damage, where a warehouse in the city will be the dramatic setting for a large-scale pop opera exploring the subjects of folklore, social media and corporate identity.

The thought-provoking When It Breaks It Burns, which will see Brazilian artists coletivA ocupação tell their real-life stories behind Brazil’s high school occupations of 2015 and 2016 using dance and live music.

Newly-commissioned Oh Europa by Action Hero receives its world premiere at Transform 19 and takes its inspiration from a six month, 32,000km journey across 33 European countries in a motorhome. Along the way, the creators asked the people they met to sing them a love song, which forms the basis of the new artwork.

And high tech mobile phone adventure game Rewire Leeds from German theatre and tech collective machina eX will see hundreds of players plot their way around Leeds and become special agents to protect the city.

Amy Letman, Transform Creative Director, said: “Transform 19 brings together some of the most game-changing artists from across Leeds and the globe, to ask both how we perceive and are seen by the world today. From culture clashes to gentrification, identity politics and activism – this collection of performances and events consider who already has power, and who needs power next. Transform 19 is the next step in an adventure to create a fearless international performance festival for Leeds.”

Transform 19, which runs from April 26 until May 4, will also feature a television studio takeover at Prime Studios including after show talks and salons, power brunches, discussions and after parties every night of the festival.

Tickets and more information about Transform 19, including the full programme, are available now at:


For all Transform19 press enquiries, please contact Sharon on 07970 178643 or
For all Leeds 2023 press enquiries, please contact Stuart Robinson on or

IMAGE: An Atypical Brain Damage, Tianzhuo Chen