Director Danny Boyle to stage a live version of The Matrix in Manchester

Acclaimed film director and producer Danny Boyle will direct a performance inspired by The Matrix titled "Free Your Mind"
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Director Danny Boyle is purported to stage a live version of The Matrix, recreating the blockbuster film through “dance, music and visual effects”.

Bury-born Boyle is known for directing big films like Trainspotting, The Beach, and Slumdog Millionaire; not to mention the epic London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony.

He didn’t make the actual 1999 Keanu Reeves movie, but is now repurposing The Matrix’s story of computer generated reality into a live “immersive performance”.

The “large-scale” dance will be one of the opening shows at Manchester’s brand new £186m Factory arts venue set to open in summer 2023.

“I’m delighted to be part of Factory International as a starting point for a kind of identity that this extraordinary new building is going to have,” said Danny Boyle.

“It’s a space that gives you an enormous amount of potential. It’s wildly ambitious in terms of its scale. In my lifetime, to see a new space like this open is hugely empowering, and I hope the new generation of artists feel that power.”

Photo: Jonathan Prime/Universal Pictures

The show, aptly titled Free Your Mind, will be staged at the ambitious 7,000-capacity venue in October and November 2023.

Free Your Mind was the main highlight of tonight’s announcement of the opening line-up for the new venue, which has been known as The Factory – after the city’s pioneering record label – and has now been rechristened Factory International.

Working with BAFTA-winning producer Tracey Seaward, this unique cross-art collaboration of world-leading artists, will showcase the breadth and ambition of Factory International’s artistic programme and invites audiences into a new realm of possibilities spanning real and imagined worlds. Using spectacular visual effects, a cast of professional dancers and hundreds of Manchester participants will recreate some of the film’s most iconic scenes, provoking visions of an alternate future.

Created for Manchester, the birthplace of the world’s first industrial revolution, Free Your Mind will explore where the digital revolution has the power to take us. From 1999, the year that the first The Matrix film was released and the moment before our lives were irrevocably entwined with technology, Free Your Mind journeys to right now – the moment where the Metaverse is about to engulf us.

The show will bring the words of The Matrix character Neo to the forefront: “I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it’s going to begin.”

Boyle, from Radcliffe in Greater Manchester, said the original Matrix movie was “an extraordinarily prophetic film and a wonderfully enjoyable film” whose warnings about the power and possible abuses of technology were ahead of its time.

“I remember seeing the first one and, as I think was true for a lot of people, not really understanding what I was seeing, except enjoying it on a visceral level and being bewildered and intrigued by it.

“And it’s not often that a film reveals itself to you over the next 10 to 15 years, which is what’s happened.”

Free Your Mind is described as a “unique cross-art collaboration of world-leading artists”, and Boyle will work with designer Es Devlin, choreographer Kenrick “H2O” Sandy, composer Michael “Mikey J” Asante and writer Sabrina Mahfouz.

The performance will follow the opening event at Factory International next summer, which will be the “largest-ever immersive environment” by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, who is known for her giant colourful spotty creations.

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