Nuffield Residency Award 2021

Alice Booth

Putting it all on the Line: Leentje Van de Cruys as part of Reckless Sleepers (Nuffield Residency 2021)

We are delighted to announce that our 2021 Nuffield Residency has been awarded to the North West based artist, Leentje van de Cruys (as part of performance company, Reckless Sleepers). 

Putting it all on the Line has a simple conceit: a line is drawn and performers enter and exit the line as the performance goes on, creating different scenarios… some generic, some sad or poignant, some funny or some with a political bent.  It can be played in a theatre, warehouse, street or city square.  And it can happen with performers ranging in age, life experience, colour, body shape and physical ability.  Future iterations will also explore using non performers or local groups – such as a brass band or children’s playgroup.  We love the flexibility and openness of this work, and that it feeds so seamlessly into our ongoing concern with Place, and our desire to work democratically with ‘all ages’.  We are also excited to be supporting Leentje on her directorial debut with Reckless Sleepers.”  Alice, Creative Producer, Lancaster Arts.  

We will invite a small public audience to a work-in-progress of the work on Friday 3 Sept at 17.45.  If you are interested in attending, please get in touch with

The Project

Putting it All On the Line is a new performance project from Reckless Sleepers, conceived by Leentje Van De Cruys in 2019. The premise is simple, a line is drawn between one architectural opening and another.  In interior spaces this could be doors or windows, outside it could be gaps between buildings, or archways. The line could be drawn from one door of a building to another entrance and exit. The straight line the most direct route from one of these gateways to another.  The performance line can become a meeting point, a queue, a file of people waiting to enter a night club, board a mode of transport or to fly off to a warmer destination. It can be many things, many different scenarios, some that we recognise, some more obscure.  The scenarios change but the line does not move: it is a non - negotiable space.  What is clear is that the performers have to stay on it, they can’t deviate from its path, they have to stick to it or the game is over, like walking on the cracks in a pavement or jumping from one white space of a zebra crossing to another. The game is simple, we’ve all played it, and some of us continue to do so.

The Line is no wider than 10 cm - just enough space to pass by another, to place a chair, a ladder, or a pram. It crosses through buildings, courtyards, through borders that divide countries, through shared spaces.  The project will be performative, it will use a range of hand-held objects, a variety of costumes and a continuous musical soundtrack.  Leentje is proposing this project within a time of extreme social and political polarity, between one side and the other, between one house and the next, one tribe and another group. When those groups meet, a tension exists, one side dominant, one side louder.

Based on a simple set of rules and a simple architectural framework, Leentje and the company will use the Nuffield Residency as a development phase to work out what they can do with this simple set of instructions, and simple set of rules.  They will create a massive balance beam, a tightrope, and through a process of rigorous examination find out what those scenarios, situations and images could be. How can they pass, what can they negotiate, how do they climb on and through each other….? 

Leentje and the company will set up the parameters and then test how these will work, initially indoors within the warmth and safety of the Nuffield Studio, and then outside on the campus grounds.  She will work with a team of experienced performance devisers, choreographers, designers and directors.

I know the town and the Nuffield well, having lived in Lancaster for 7 years. I appreciate the LA/Nuffield approach to artist support that enables deep research, experimental approaches and the time for genuine R&D. The additional element of public realm presenting fits the vision for this project perfectlyl”.  Leentje Van de Cruys

About the Artist and the Company

Leentje Van de Cruys is a Belgian performer and theatre-maker, based in the UK since 2006. She regularly collaborates with international companies including Reckless Sleepers, Quarantine and Prototype Theater, performing in venues and festivals across the UK and Europe. As a solo artist Leentje has developed and performed a series of shows exploring themes of cultural identity and domesticity - HorseKnitting to Worry About Going to the Chapel, Best Party Ever, Kitsch’n Synch and Belgian Waffling.

Reckless Sleepers is a group of 12 independent artists who get together every now and then to create work. Every now and then they create a new piece of work that they get asked to present again.  Sometimes this is inside a theatre or gallery. Sometimes this is outside.  Many of the company projects have been initiated within a creative residencysuch as an extended workshop or university programme where it’s possible to test , research, or find new projects within a relatively safe environment. Some of these then progress into realised company pieces.

Putting it All on the Line is one of these projects that was born out of a University Residency, the next stage for this project’s life is to test the project with a dedicated team of Reckless Sleepers performers and devisers.

All of Reckless Sleepers projects start with a desire to find, to learn, to present something new. They always start from scratch, normally out of a conversation, sometimes immediately after a show, or during the devising of another project, but always out of a simple performative impulse that is shared within the group.  Out of this impulse they start to test the idea and from this testing they generate a new form. Once this is established, it creates the performative logic / choreographic rules and basis of the new project. They advance to find / develop a unique language for each project that they produce.  

Posted on 1st Sep, 2021