Nuffield Residency Award 2020

Alice Booth

the wind as it rushes through the turbine: Leo&Hyde (Nuffield Residency 2020)

We are delighted to announce that our 2020 Nuffield Residency has been awarded to the North West based company, leo&hyde

We were drawn to the company’s desire to find hope and transcendence amid the current ecological crisis, through the development of an immersive sound exhibition in the Nuffield Theatre.  During their residency, they really hope to experiment and explore the possibilities of technology, and we look forward to seeing the results! 

leo&hyde will invite a small public audience to their installation on the final day of the residency: 27th November.  If you are interested in attending please get in touch

The Project

every time I drive past Lancaster University on the motorway, I see the wind turbine. It’s the single most memorable thing on my regular journey from Manchester to Arnside, and seems to symbolise *something.* But what?” Leo Mercer

This piece takes the turbine as a starting point.  It is a choral sound installation, combining live vocals which are then manipulated and programmed into a spatialised multi-speaker set-up, interspersed with verbatim recordings from conversations with local activists about the environment.  The effect for those experiencing it will be a sort of secular cathedral, a space of reflection and an ecological transcendence, fusing the power of choral music with contemporary themes.

The company are very inspired by the music of people like Meredith Monk and David Lang, as well as the stillness of John Luther Adam’s environmental soundscapes and the raw violence in Julia Wolfe’s political oratorios about American social life.

Instead of focussing on the dark, dystopian themes of what happens if we don’t do something (which creates a feeling that action is futile), the company want to create a utopian work that inspires action and belief in a future beyond the current waves of catastrophe.  The turbine will be explored as a symbol of hope and the dynamism of human civilization, pointing to a long history from old-school windmills to the offshore windfarms at Barrow, evoking the feeling of being inside the turbine as the wind rushes through it.

We're are excited about this residency as we are very interested in the sort of work Lancaster Arts seems to focus on.  On the one hand, it clicks with our interests in being quite probing about the world around us, and trying to be quite genre-bendingly interdisciplinary. That said, our work to date has tended to be more story-based, even populist, as we've tried to create work that focuses on appealing to wide audiences using (admittedly fairly unusual pop-electronic) musical theatre models. However, we all have a more experimental bent within us, hungry to have a chance to create something a little more self-contained and intense, drawing in particular on our love for music from early choral to contemporary classical.   We have a keen interest in science and technology, both its promise and its terror. In the short term, we think we can learn a lot about the use of technology in our work from the team at Lancaster Arts; in the long term, we're very interested in how we might work with a university and its researchers more generally to look into arts-science dialogues and science engagement through theatre. We know there's a fantastic range of science departments at Lancaster University and we’d like to use this residency as an opportunity to engage with them.”  Leo Mercer

About the company

leo&hyde is a multi-award-winning partnership, based in Manchester. They use current music to tell stories that make sense of technology in modern life.

One of the first public pieces they did was in collaboration with Manchester International Festival, where undertook a series of spatialised string quartet performances playing a wide range of music from improvisations to The National, Tallis to Arvo Part to Kanye West in small spaces / houses / apartments. The audience would sit *inside* the string quartet, almost like being hugged by the music. It's this experience they'd like to develop further in this residency on a larger scale. See some footage here.

Leo&Hyde's work has been performed at The Lowry, Hope Mill Theatre, The Arcola, Birmingham Old Rep, Theatre by the Lake, amongst others. They have been twice-funded by Arts Council England to take their work (The Marriage of Kim K, 2017/2019; and gay love story GUY, 2018/2020) on UK tours, and have just received a grant to take GUY on a further tour in 2021.


Posted on 9th Sep, 2020