21 May 2021 – Online + various venues
If there ever was a word that has long overstayed its welcome in our daily vocabulary, then ‘play’ certainly puts up a convincing fight. The thoughts, feelings and images attached to this most awkward of Old English words no doubt sit more comfortably in the last decade than they do in our current one, and it represents just as much a foreign land as the events, memories and schedules of yesteryear.
However, returning 21st May with a free online and offline culture crawl, Open Culture’s LightNight arts festival will offer a sheen of optimism with seven new commissions around the central theme of Play, inviting a reflection on the role of arts and culture in escape, creativity and happiness ahead of a second chance at Summer.
The all-you-can-eat entrée features synth-pop giants STEALING SHEEP, whose limited-audience live performance invites you to submit playful lyrics, words and poetry through Twitter using #playis for the Liverpool trio to perform in a live broadcast.
Song Machine. Image: Stealing Sheep
Meanwhile, in the physical realm, drag aficionados can relish in-person performances with Homotopia’s Queer The City: Drag Cabaret, where Liverpool’s big-mouth scouse singing sensation PHILLIPA MCKRACKIN (aka Filla Crack) will work the crowd alongside some of the most glitzed drag performances in the UK. IRL performances will take place outside Lush on Church Street, with pop-up kikis on-hand to entertain your late-Spring gossip.
Taking our Spring escapism one step further, musician and curator LOVE SSEGA will transport viewers into a parallel version of Liverpool, with a 3D Cut-out opera based on Andrew Kiwanka’s Project Earth comic. Commissioned by METAL, the online event will reel in catchy hooks, synths and basslines more at home with Love Ssega’s more experimental solo repertoire.
But if productions with a mathematical flavour are more your thing, then Liverpool Biennial-commissioned HAROON MIRZA’s choral performance The Three /\/\/\/’s is sure to spike your sonar. Exploring social gatherings and rituals, the Fibonacci sequence-inspired performance features Liverpool singers including ANNE TAFT, EMMA BOSPHAM, JENNIER JOHN, STEVE BOYLAND and TAYO ALUKO.
Yolanda Mercy. Image: Helen Murray
And if you have a penchant for all things atomic, you might want to stay around for RONAN DEVLIN’s In Flow, an online adaption of an audience responsive installation that imagines an atomic resolution vista. Just as our atomic world is hidden and uncertain, this work’s visual form will resonate and adapt to audience engagement, unfurling hypnotic moiré patterns in the process.
Those who rekindled their love of creative storytelling over lockdown will find creative solace in the online event Play the Stars. In the new interactive digital commission for LightNight, audiences will be invited to create a 3D story as tilt brush artist ROSIE SUMMERS live-paints audience suggestions onto a VR world set at the city’s waterfront. Produced by theatre company leo&hyde, the live performance will be sprinkled with a live score by local composer MARCO GALVANI alongside magical storytelling by REBECCA MACAULEY.
Finally, returning to this year’s theme of Play, YOLANDA MERCY’s The Play Scratch Night will showcase five new writing works produced by the local community. After inviting new and inexperienced writers to her Writing Lab in the run-up to LightNight, the selection of compelling five-minute monologues – taking inspiration from lived experiences and this year’s theme – will be performed at the festival.
The full programme of free LightNight events will be released on 5th May.