Danny Boyle's enthralling production, "Free Your Mind", inspired by the iconic sci-fi film, The Matrix, recently debuted at Aviva Studios, formerly known as Factory International. The distinguished director behind "Trainspotting" teamed up with renowned figures such as Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy, Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante, Sabrina Mahfouz and Es Devlin, who began her artistic journey at Cranbrook School.
At the heart of this collaboration is a shared reverence for the original film and a recognition of its renewed significance in 2023. Released in 1999, The Matrix presciently highlighted humanity's techno-dystopian path, touching on themes from mind transfer and omnipresent artificial intelligence to the blurred lines between actual existence and a fabricated "reality". Two decades later, we observe some of these foresights coming to fruition – people diving into the metaverse, connecting with AI chatbots and sporting diminutive sunglasses.
The performance, showcasing stage design by Es, renowned for her grand public installations, spanned various Aviva Studios' venues. These encompassed the 1,600-seat theatre and The Warehouse, a 21-metre-tall space accommodating four stacked double-decker buses and almost accommodating a Boeing 747. Movable giant partitions segment these spaces, allowing a flexible visitor experience when needed.
Designed by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), Aviva Studios serves as a global hub for the arts, music and culture, located in Manchester's bustling St John’s district, an emerging hotspot for creativity and technological innovation.