The Matrix Reloaded. Again. Danny Boyle dance show opens in Manchester's new Aviva Studios

Danny Boyle helms The Matrix stage adaptation 'Free Your Mind' - which opens today in Manchester, UK
Danny Boyle helms The Matrix stage adaptation 'Free Your Mind' - which opens today in Manchester, UK Copyright Warner Bros., Roadshow Entertainment - Jon Furniss/Invision/AP
By David Mouriquand
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It’s The Matrix as you’ve never seen it before... Legendary director Danny Boyle has adapted the acclaimed 1999 sci-fi actioner into a “dramatic retelling” dance show for Factory International. It opens in Manchester, UK, today.


The stage adaptation of The Matrix has finally arrived to the brand new Aviva Studios in Manchester, UK.

Premiering today (Wednesday 18 October), 'Free Your Mind' is a “dramatic retelling” of the classic 1999-released sci-fi film through dance, music, and visual effects.

Directed by the one and only Danny Boyle, the director of Trainspotting, Sunshine, 28 Days Later and the Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire (as well as the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony), the dance adaptation ‘Free Your Mind’ is written by the poet and playwright Sabrina Mahfouz, alongside the composer behind Boy Blue (the radical theatre company that Boyle first teamed up with for London’s 2012 Olympics), Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante MBE, and the choreographer Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy MBE.

The adaptation serves as the official launch show for Aviva Studios, and will also feature large-scale stage sculptures courtesy of designer Es Devlin, with additional contributions from costume designer Gareth Pugh, known for his unconventional use of volume and form when designing outfits.

Director Danny Boyle
Director Danny BoyleGetty

The production features hundreds of dancers who reflect the diversity of the communities that Factory International is serving to represent, in the new major arts venue in the North-East of the UK - a €210 million venue that resembles a futuristic spaceship in the centre of Manchester.

The theatre that can seat 1,600 people, and a hangar-like "warehouse" can host up to 5,000.

Announced by the government in 2014 as part of the Northern Powerhouse, the venue is described as the largest new national cultural project since the Tate Modern gallery opened in London in 2000. However, the venue is four years behind schedule and is expected to go more than €149 million over its original budget.

If any show can make the investment worthwhile, it could very well be ‘Free Your Mind’, named after a line spoken in the original film by the character Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) to Neo (Keanu Reeves).

Looking back to the original 1999 film, which prophesised the ubiquity of artificial intelligence, and the blurred lines between real life and a simulated “reality”, the production reimagines the questions it posed.

“The Matrix made us question reality. What is “human”? Who is really in control? When will we wake up, see through the illusion and step into the unknown?”, states the press release.

“Since then, internet corporations have exerted huge influence in daily life – shaping public opinion, swaying our interactions with others and tracking our movements. Now the Metaverse is about to engulf us. Is this progress or system failure? Could we break free?”

Could we, indeed... 

'Free Your Mind' opens on 18 October and runs until November 5 at Aviva Studios, Manchester.

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