We caught up with 70/30 Split collaborators Lydia Cottrell and Sophie Unwin to ask about the folk inspirations and current themes behind their latest piece. bYOB arrives at Riley Theatre on Saturday 27th April as part of Transform Festival.

First things first, how are you both?

We are good, very busy! Getting ready for the premiere on Saturday!

 

‘bYOB’ – can you tell us a bit about the name and why you chose this?

BYOB does usually mean bring your own bottle, but we like the various readings that it could have: be your own boy, be YOB…

 

What drew you to use traditional folk dances as the raw material for your work?

Yes, this was one of our starting points. Simple, celebratory and joyful material that has the ability to bring groups together. There is something about jumping, stomping, singing and clapping together that feels really good – it’s something that we don’t really do anymore.

We wanted to work with folk dance as material because of its social nature and its ability to be performed by anyone, in various social contexts. We were interested to see how we could reframe traditional folk patterns, rhythms and comradery in new ways.

This piece includes four male performers struggling with their identities. What are your thoughts on the state of masculinity today?

Well, we think there is a massive scope, a various catalogue of maleness and masculinity, that doesn’t really fit any more within archetypal and old notions of masculinity.

Within this there is a disconnect. Dualities between expectations and actuality. Men are struggling with their identity, we are seeing it in many, and often troubling ways. We think it’s not often that there is an outlet for care, for support and being able to hold each other.

 

Can you tell us a bit about your process in creating the work?

Our work traverses different disciplines, so our process can be very eclectic. As starting points we pull a combination of different things together: images, atmospheres, text, feelings, costume, aesthetics. The process includes the weaving of action, dance, voice and mood.

This work forms part of Transform Festival and has been co-commissioned by NSCD, The Place and DanceXchange. How does it feel to be part of such a vibrant and ambitious city-wide festival in Leeds and to have the backing of these partners?

Working in this way has enabled us to create our work on a much larger scale. We have had the support to have production elements made for us that previously we would have only been able to dream of.

 

What can the audience expect to see?

The surreal and the ridiculous. Rhythm, order, and breaking the rules. Togetherness.

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